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SPAB at Great Waltham, Essex

After the first day of formalities in Spital Square it was time to hit the road for out first visit to the lace makers cottage in Great Waltham, Essex. There we met Dale Perrin of Crown Conservation {who had very kindly out Luke and myself up for the evening before).

The lace makers cottages are a great example of humble vernacular architecture thrown together for the workers out of a mixture of Elm and Douglas Fir scantlings, lathed internally and externally then rendered. Unfortunately, due to poor material choices and lack of understanding by previous contractors the timber frame had succumb to heavy rot and beetle attack from water ingress and interstitial condensation.

The original timber frame, although crudely assembled was a thing of beauty in its simplicity, fixed together with large blacksmith made hand wrought nails with little thought design or aesthetic beauty. But after all it was never intended to be shown and nevertheless makes a beautiful family home. The numerous previous attempts at repair, had seen the original lime render replaced with cement and the cavity full filled with fiberglass insulation . Even the newer repairs to the sole plate, which had been carried out in the last 10 years were suffering due to poor detailing and material choice, sitting the oak directly onto a DPC and trapping any residual moisture and rotting out the previous repairs.

Dale had a tough job on his hands, as the amount of original timber which he could save was very limited and the clients (who very kindly provided us with delicious tea and cakes) were still living in the house so any works had to take their needs into consideration. The material which could be saved, namely a few of the hardier Douglas fir studs, were left in situ, with the remaining timber in the process of being replaced by new Douglas Fir imported from Vancouver. The end goal for the project was to replace all of the rotte timber, re-lath the exterior and render with lime filling the void with sheep’s wool insulation, which is vapor permeable. The interior finish was up for discussion, but the use of wood fibre insulation board was discussed to increase the u value of the building.


Other photos of the day


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