Because the floor was due to be replaced and lowered 8 inches, it was imperative to deepen and strengthen the footings, which were mostly only two or three bricks deep. They were built down a metre by digging a trench in sections around the house. New bricks were laid almost direct onto the clay, on a thin layer of limecrete.
The ground floor – removing cement and replacing it with limecrete
The cement floor was the biggest single problem. It had to be removed to make the building habitable, because headroom on the ground floor was well under 6 feet. The plan was to drop the floor 8 inches. The architects advised, and indeed the conservation officer insisted, on a limecrete floor, using expanded glass balls from power station waste as a lightweight filler instead of gravel. Underneath was a thick layer of a similar expanded glass, for insulation, and also to allow water to drain away quickly from beneath the building. The winter water table, as measured by the well outside, is less than half a metre below the floor.
We gained planning permission and listed building consent for structural repairs to the building, installation of services, a new vehicle entrance and construction of a cart-lodge style garage and also a small extension – essentially, a porch, though with a shower room squeezed in. We decided we would split this into several phases, leaving the porch extension, some of the repair work and the garage until later.
Considerable work was done in the 1980s by Paul and Ginny Broomhead, the previous owners, to preserve and adapt the building, but it was not finished. The building had been roughly repaired when it was owned by Rush Green Farm, whose farmhouse they bought in 1983 (now renamed Holm Oak House) along with what is now The Old Brewhouse. Continue reading “Repairs before we bought”