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Case Studies


The Gables: New Build

The Brief

To build a new four-bedroom house that would reflect the evolving nature of the buildings that were all once called La Hauteur. This new house should be pleasing on the eye and be comfortable for a family to live in. The house would be built as well as possible with quality materials and good craftsmanship.

The Design Approach

This south facing property now called 'The Gables' is partly inspired from the Arts and Craft period. It is situated to the west of the group of buildings that were all formally known as La Hauteur. The earliest part of this group may date to the early part of the 17th century. Another stage was early Georgian and this was followed by a large Victorian extension. To take some inspiration from a period and aesthetic movement that came in from the latter part of the 19th century was a natural choice. An eclectic use of style and materials has been used. An important part of this movement is the use of high quality materials that are left in a natural state to let the material 'speak' for itself. This entails a high standard of workmanship.

The cambered flat area of the roof is lead, as are the dormer cheeks. Spanish slate has been used, with diminished courses on the long sprockets at the angle junction. There are large overhangs on the eaves (approx 780mm including the gutter) that apart from being aesthetically pleasing give some degree of protection to the timber windows below.

The gutters and down pipes are copper and will develop a natural protective patination and require no maintenance, except for the usual leaf clearance etc. The fascias are oiled idigbo, classified as a durable timber.The soffits are western red cedar, also a durable timber. Both these should weather to a pleasing grey colour and require no painting. The windows and painted exterior doors are made with idigbo. This is a stable timber, and this small moisture movement in the timber will help the longevity of the paint. The paint is oil based Farrow and Ball. The render finish has a lime base. This is a light-refreshing colour that requires no painting.

The front door is in European oak, again with an oiled finish. The front door is the focal point of a house when first arriving or leaving. It should look and be strong, to give reassurance and confidence for security. As it is handled it should be pleasant to touch. There should be a statement of quality that summarises the house and creates a good feeling when arriving or leaving through the doorway.

The hallway floor is oak parquet that has a wenge border. The living room floor is random width European oak and the staircase and landing is also of the same oak. The kitchen is limestone-slabs of four different sizes laid in a random pattern. There is a marble floor in the house bathroom and the cloakroom, and limestone in the en-suite bathroom. The bedroom floors are in Swedish redwood. The roof-light above the landing is from the cast iron roof-light company. Below the light is a splayed opening that is framed and panelled. The interior doors are sycamore, with raised and fielded panels.

It was the intention to create a light and spacious house with well- proportioned rooms, to this end there is a wide and welcoming hallway and spacious landing. The living room and dining room have sliding doors that join them, so that the rooms can combine for entertaining larger parties.

On plan the house is wide rectangle, with an inset porch area that shelters the front door.


Oakwell: renovation of a Victorian Gentleman's house built in 1860

A Conservation guided approach to the repair of a Victorian Gentleman's house built in 1860.

Description

The property had unfortunately suffered from neglect, and over the years had developed leaks. This had led to suitable conditions for woodworm, various moulds and wet rot. Well meant, but in-appropriate repairs, to the internal lime plaster, using a strong cement material resulted in further condensation problems. This showed it-self clearly as the mould growths were extensive in these areas. Outside a non-breathable paint applied to the existing lime wash caused the bonding of the lime render to fail, due to the trapped moisture. The large extension, now called 'Oakwell', was added to La Hauteur in 1860. This was done by Charles Rennant. At this time the two properties were used as one, and 'La Hauteur' was 'gentrified'. Among other things, the ogee accolade lintels over the windows and flat headed chamfered doorway, were cemented over to produce an ashlar effect. French windows were added. In 1870 the bay window was added. It is now a five bedroom property, with three bathrooms and a downstairs walk in shower. There are also two reception rooms, a study and a good sized kitchen.

The Objective

To sympathetically renovate the properties to provide two comfortable homes. They also needed to meet to-days expectations of comfort and convenience. A 'like for like' approach has been taken to any repairs, with maximum retention of original material as an objective. Where it was possible modern insulation was used to improve the thermal efficiency without losing the authenticity of the buildings.

A brief summary of the renovation and repair work

Roof: Stripped to bare rafters, as old slates needed replacing. Insulated to the then current building standards with 50mm Celotex, using 'tyvek' as a breathable membrane. A 'warm roof' has been created. Slates replaced with Spanish- a natural slate. Old and corroded zinc sheeting on the cambered top of the roof, the dormers, bay window and porches, has been replaced with an insulated and ventilated lead roof.

Plaster ceilings and walls: Any defective plaster has been repaired using lime plaster. The new extension walls are plastered with naturally hydraulic lime using a coarse aggregate, clearly visible in the finish. This does not need painting, but could be given a lime-wash if desired.

Niches: there were three niches created. These are all where doorways had been punched through into La Hauteur when the Victorians built their extension. Rather than simply block up the openings, some use was made of the space.

Floorboards: Maximum retention of all the old floorboards, replacing only if necessary with Swedish redwood, U/S joinery grade.

Joinery: Original architraves, skirting, cupboards, picture rail, doors and staircase. Maximum retention.

Fenestration: Frames and sashes were repaired as necessary, using modern draught proofing used to up grade the performance. This is a brush seal that replaces the parting bead, and is also placed in the meeting, top & bottom rails. It is very effective and unobtrusive. Particular care was taken to ensure the saving of the original crown and cylinder glass. Replacement glass has been with 'restoration' glass, where panes were broken. One new window was made in the new bathroom on the first floor.

Paint finishes: Basic spec: Inside and outside woodwork: Primer, 2 U/C, 2 T/C. (Oil-based). Ceiling and walls: 3 coats water based emulsion, a breathable paint. Farrow and Ball paint used throughout. This is a traditional paint using natural oils and pigments.

Services: All new supplies: Gas, Electric, Water, Telephone and Main drains.

Plumbing: New throughout, using copper pipes, all lagged. Existing radiators shot blasted, and painted. Oil fired central heating.

Electrics: New throughout, with telephone points in all relevant rooms, wired for sky T.V. and speaker system in the living room. Integrated smoke alarm system. Outside sensor lights.

Drains: New soil drains connected to main drain in the road. Rain water to existing soakaway. Gutters in zinc, some existing, others new. Cast iron and copper downpipes, (mostly new.) (This to replace the inappropriate plastic downpipe).

New Extension: Built within current building by-laws. Insulated roof, walls and floor. Cavity walls, double-glazing with safety glass in the double doors and lower sashes in the south windows. Form of roof construction known as 'open interior hipped coupled roof'. The ring beam around the top of the walls takes the thrust. Marble floor. Interior shutters on the south windows.

Woodworm treatment has been undertaken, with a guarantee.

Oakwell is a building of local interest Awarded work.


La Hauteur: renovation of a late 17th century farmhouse

Description

As far as existing evidence shows, the original farmhouse is the building in the centre of the collection of buildings, known collectively as 'La Hauteur'.

The ogee accolade lintels above the ground floor windows, on the south fa├žade are typical of the 17th century. The straight chamfered doorway is typical of doorways that came to be built after the 17th century, when arched doorways ceased to be fashionable. (However there are examples of the chamfered straight-topped doorway built in 1600, as seen in the Governor's house at Elizabeth Castle).

The random rubble granite work is un-coursed. This, and the brick reveals around the windows, is bedded with clay that is sometimes seen used with straw as a binder. The first floor windows on the south side are the oldest. They are built so that only the lower sash slides, which indicates an early date of construction. The earliest sash windows came into use around 1670, but it is unlikely that this date could be attributed to these windows. They are more likely to be early 18th century. The glazing bars, although plain, are quite fine. The earliest sash windows had quite heavy glazing bars.

The top row of lights is hinged to swing upwards. This can also be seen at Sausmarez Manor (1704) in Guernsey, and at the Hollies (c.1685) in St. Aubin. However it is possible that this hinging may have been done later as a successful means of introducing ventilation that is moderately weather proof.

The 'French windows', were introduced after the Victorian addition in 1860 was built, and as the bay window was added, c.1873. (Evidence exists from dated paintings to support this).

The roof structure is the simple 'A'-frame of the 17th& 18th century. There are three principal rafters that have the purlins resting on top of them, as opposed to being notched into them, as began to happen in the following century. These timbers are hewn and sawn, and the pairs can be clearly seen. They are halved and pegged together at the ridge. Two of these rafters are pine and the other is elm. At the end of the 17th century there was a transition from oak to pine or elm, and by 1720 Baltic pine was being imported.

The Victorian alterations involved cutting through the north rafters to raise the pitch for the extension on this side. The standard 3 X 9 inch principal rafter of the 19th century is used here.

The extension on the back was a major change that involved the removal of the original granite wall on the north. This was re-built in its present position and a brick partition wall was built where the granite wall had been. This gave room for a kitchen in the back room, and the old fireplace with bread oven can still be seen. There are now four bedrooms and two bathrooms, with a large reception room downstairs.

A conservation guided approach

Roof: Stripped to bare rafters, & treated for woodworm. Celotex Double RR insulation has been used to create a 'warm roof', as opposed to a ventilated cold roof. This is to today's building standards with a total of 80mm Celotex boards in two layers to avoid any cold bridging. 'Tyvek' roofing felt is used as a breathable membrane. On the north roof the existing welsh slates were in a good condition, and have been re-used. On the south side the existing black glazed pantiles were sorted individually and any unsound were rejected. The missing pantiles were sourced locally and are a very good match. The dormers roofs and cheeks have been insulated and are covered with lead. The flat roof over the master bathroom has also been insulated and has a ventilated lead roof.

Plaster ceilings and walls: Any defective plaster has been repaired using lime plaster. The living room west wall is plastered with naturally hydraulic lime using a coarse aggregate, clearly visible in the finish.

Floorboards: Maximum retention of all the old floorboards, replacing only if necessary with Swedish redwood, U/S joinery grade. This was only possible on the first and second floor as the ground floor was very decayed and is now completely new. All of the ground floor has also been insulated with sheep's wool. This is an environmentally friendly product, being sustainable, breathable and high in heat retention.

Under-floor Vents: These have been cleared to ensure air circulation, the grills replaced as necessary, and new cast iron grills used on the south side. It is very important these are kept clear for good ventilation.

Joinery: Original architraves, skirting, cupboards, and doors. There was very little remaining from the early Georgian period, and the one early door into the master bedroom has been used as a basis for the other doors in this area. The door into the attic has been given a fire resistance of half an hour. The two panel doors downstairs are typical of the 17th century. The sliding doors and panelling are typical mid-Georgian. The stripped pine four-panel door in the living room is an original Victorian door. The front door is made from French oak. A small remaining section of skirting and architrave has been used as a pattern to produce the new skirting and architrave.

Staircase: The original staircase was probably taken out when the Victorian house was built and incorporated to make one dwelling. The new staircase is based on the late 17th century style.

Fenestration: Frames and sashes have been repaired as necessary. The timber is first growth Baltic pine. Particular care has been taken to ensure the saving of the original crown and cylinder glass. Replacement glass has been with 'restoration' glass, where panes were broken. Where there are small cracks in the handmade glass, the panes have been retained, as this glass is irreplaceable. Some draught proofing strip has been used where possible. The conservation skylight is from 'The Metal Window Company', this is a copy of a cast iron design, but insulated to to-day's standards.

Paint finishes: Basic spec: Inside and outside woodwork: Primer, 2 U/C, 2 T/C. (Oil-based). Ceiling and walls: 3 coats water based emulsion, a breathable paint. Farrow and Ball paint used throughout. This is a traditional paint using natural oils and pigments. Limewash on the west wall of the living room.

Wallpaper: This was the only original left in the house, and may date from about 1750. It is hand blocked. The early paint finish has also been left on the boarding here.

Services: All new supplies: Bottled Gas, Electric, Water, Telephone and Main drains. The kitchen and living room fireplaces have been lined with stainless steel coils.

Plumbing: New throughout, using copper pipes, all lagged. Existing radiators shot blasted, and painted. Oil fired central heating. There is a pressurised system.

Electrics: New throughout, with telephone points in all relevant rooms. Integrated smoke alarm system on all floors. Cable laid for outside lights etc.

Drains: New soil drains connected to main drain in the road. Rain water to existing soakaway. Gutters in zinc, all new. A new cast iron down-pipe has been used in the front of the house.

Woodworm treatment has been undertaken, with a guarantee.

La Hauteur is a building of local interest.

Awarded work

Fire Resistance: All areas that need to achieve half hour fire resistance, to comply with Building Bye Laws, now do so. This also includes the beams in the bedroom, bathroom, landing and kitchen.


La Hauteur Cottage: creation of a dwelling from an outbuilding

Description

This building had been used as a bedroom on the first floor, but as below was clearly only a storeroom, Building Bye Laws had to be complied with. The West and North walls were built against the bedrock and consequently very damp. The windows in the ground floor on the south side had been replaced during the Victorian gentrification of La Hauteur. The large, and very unsightly, dormer window was a modern plastic type that detracted from the property. The signs of a medieval bread oven in the East wall, adjoining La Hauteur, were exciting to find, and other than re-pointing the granite work, remain as found. The roof timbers are a 'Raised Cruck' type, in first growth Baltic pine. (See drawing) one original oak timber was found doubling up as a purlin. There had been leaking in the roof that was causing decay in the form of wet rot and extensive woodworm.

Objective

To create a comfortable two bedroom cottage that reflected some of its origins, and looked more attractive than it did at present.