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The Haynes Manual for Period Property

Ian Rock has written another of his great books.  This one is even better - We've helped Ian with this one and there's loads of photos of our guys doing timber frame work.  A great book, with lots of practical information you need if you have an old home.  Treat yourself and buy this - you won't regret it!

Have a look at what we're up to...

Some pics of our latest work, and surveys, and life in general...

Click the pic, and a nice gallery opens up... go on... you know you can.... 

Medieval Timber Frame hidden behind cement render
A stunning farmhouse in Staffordshire, hidden under layers of cement render with rotting timber frame almost falling down.
At last! Humidity Control that works...

We have arranged for RHL Direct to provide their humidity control equipment for our clients. Some of the units are especially suited for social housing applications, or rentals - where the inbuilt data loggers enable you to record humidity, usage of the unit, and temperature on a daily basis for up to 12 months.  These are robust, well designed units - not yer average B&Q special.  Designed for bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchens, and whole house usage..

Everything you ever wanted to know about old houses - under one roof...

Do you live in an old house, or maybe just thinking of buying one?  Over the years, we've seen and experienced just about everything that can go wrong with one.  We work on properties from early medieval stone cottages to Edwardian townhouses. This website is dedicated to helping you understand your home, and get the most from it.

What IS an old house?  It's very simple - an 'old house' is a structure built with solid walls (stone, brick, timber frame) using breathable materials.  Most problems with old houses result from inappropriate use of modern building materials which prevent your house from 'breathing' - things like cement and gypsum plaster, emulsion paints and waterproofing.

Everything within this site relates to old buildings.  The techniques and materials are essential to old houses, but they equally can be applied to new ones.  You Cannot apply new house techniques to old houses!  The Golden Mantra - BREATHABILITY!

If you don't believe me - have a look at the Historic Scotland climate change blog: Traditional Buildings are Cool

Is damp a problem? Flaking plaster, hollow render on walls, paint bubbling and flaking off walls, mouldy wallpaper, leaky or rotting timber frame, stonework deteriorating, things just getting creaky and rotten? These are typical problems with old houses. We can help with sensible solutions, and show you WHY the problem is happening, and how to prevent it in future. 

Filming for Restoration Home

We're on BBC Restoration Home ....

The guys are all excited... they're watching each other on the telly... Restoration Home - and a little timber frame in Abbey Lane, Southam...

High Technology and Old Houses

We've just taken delivery of our new Thermal Imaging Camera - which apart from costing a lot of Pete's hard earned money, is helping us to map dampness in old houses.  We can now show thermal images which demonstrate where cold areas are encouraging condensation.  We are also studying thermal performance of insulation, and working out how to ensure that houses don't lose heat through 'cold bridging' - gaps in insulation, damp walls, and small holes in the building fabric.

House wall with gypsum plasterboard dabbed onto bare brick
Gypsum plasterboard is dabbed onto bare brick - no apparent problems were noticed with this room, but heat loss was suspected.
Thermal image of house wall with plasterboard dabbed onto brick
Thermal image of wall, showing dark spots (colder areas) where plasterboard dabs are transmitting heat to the outside. Note heat loss through plasterboarded ceiling at top of picture where the ceiling is sloping.
Oak framed conservatory door
The doorway to an oak framed conservatory - small spots of mildew were noticed in odd corners
Thermal image of oak framed conservatory with cracks in the structure letting in cold air
Thermal image of oak framed conservatory showing how tiny cracks in the structure are letting in cold air and causing heat loss. Patches of mildew have formed in the dark blue areas where the ceiling is cold

More Happy Clients!

Peter recently did a building survey on a lovely old farmhouse in Shropshire.  Clad in cement render, with injection damp proofing all over the place, it was wet and cold.  After showing the owner how it wasn't really that hard to get it all breathing again, imagine Pete's surprise when Stuart's blog appeared on his desktop.  Here's an old house restoration, from the owners viewpoint - it is textbook stuff, and shows how easy this stuff can be...  Have a look at the October AND November blogs - great progress, and all with a hammer and chisel..

Old Lawns Farmhouse - The Restoration

And then there's another Shropshire survey:

Andy bought this place, knowing full well that he was heading into a brave new unknown.  We found all sorts of horrors during the survey, but as he says - it took away the fear, and he knew what he was geting himself in for.  Now he's keeping a blog on the restoration, which is really detailed - just have a look at how quickly they are getting on top of it.  I hope Andy doesnt mind me quoting a bit of his blog:

Pete turned up in a well abused Discovery with his bonkers companion Soot the Collie, and set about in a manner akin to a man assessing the temperature of a swimming pool before jumping in wandering around all sides of the property to get a feel for how it sat in its location, and what its purpose in the world was.

Over the following 6 hours, Pete paid more attention to the details of the house, it's original Victorian construction, adaptations, and butchering with modern materials than anyone I've ever seen do any job before. No wall was left un-tapped. No carpet left un-lifted. No rafter left un-checked. And no patch of condensation left without tracing its cause. We went in to the drains, the loft, the cupboards and the chimneys. And at every point Pete took his time to explain WHY each problem was occurring and how it should be remedied. This was so much more than the stark white-paper survey that some modern firms would produce. This was a lesson from a man who knows old properties inside-out, and how modern materials can damage the structure in a fundamental way. In my opinion it was worth every penny of the £600 bill.

Stone cottage renovation in Shropshire

And those telephone consultations we do:

 “Just had the one hour telephone consultation with Pete and it’s probably the best £75 I’ve ever spent. Pete’s advice and information was clear, matter-of-fact and totally impartial . I now feel confident in moving forward with the sympathetic restoration of my Listed 18th century cottage, armed with a treasure trove of ideas and specifications for materials which will banish the damp for good! It’s probably saved me a fortune too, as I won’t now get ripped off by injection dpc salesmen/dodgy builders with no idea about heritage buildings. Many thanks, Louise.”

Have a look at the Testimonials pages for a few more Happy Clients! 

 

Restoring your home

Our specialist crew use traditional conservation methods. We use lime mortars and plasters. Our carpenters work mainly in oak, and undertake timber frame repairs, caulking and restoring leaking infill panels on oak framed buildings. We repair old sash windows, build stone walls, strip and replace roofs, and put down insulated limecrete floors with underfloor heating.

Damp Problems in your old house
Condensation trapped in a wall by cement and causing damp problems

We are amongst the leading specialists in the country when it comes to dealing with damp problems in houses. Our Damp Surveys help you understand the reasons for damp, and how to deal with them - simple, logical, easy to understand.  We never use chemicals or injection damp proofing - they are fraud. 

Latest Questions

If you dont find the answers you are looking for, please feel free to 'Ask a Question'.  If we think its relevant, we'll write a page and put it on the site.  Please note that if you are looking for specific advice about a problem, the Knowledge Base has a facility to allow you to purchase an hour of our time to discuss your issues in detail.

Surveying your House
Ping Prong meter

We Survey your potential purchase. It's tailored to your needs - whether to investigate timber and damp issues, or a full Building Survey. We look at building history, how its built, what with, whats wrong, and what it may cost to get it to tip top condition.

Learning about Old Buildings
Knowledge Base

Use the Knowledge Base to learn about the things that will affect your home - its history, and the things in it.

The site will never be perfect, or completely finished - its a work in progress, and YOU .... the owner of an old house, will help to make it better. All sorts of people and organisations have helped make it what it is - and hopefully will continue to do so... Please Enjoy.. and contact us if you dont find what you are looking for.