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Wolfhound person BS: Bloody Builders!! (15) RE: BS: Bloody Builders!! 04 Feb 13

The Georgians were terrible jerry-builders (UK).

I'm living in a farmhouse parts of which date back to at least 1662, probably further. The 2 foot thick solid sandstone walls go almost a metre into the ground. When we moved here 10 years ago we had to have the water supply updated as it was in lead pipes, and the firm that did it couldn't find the bottom of the wall.

In the 1740s the then owner married above her station and the house was more than doubled in size with large bedrooms and living rooms put on the "front", along with a pantiled roof and (probably) attic servants quarters.
One snag with this update. No foundations. On clay. And they didn't bother tying the two halves together either.

AS a tenanted farm, the whole lot was allowed to slide gracefully into disrepair in the C19, warping, shifting, rotting, and leaking as it did so.

It changed hands again in 1914, and a team of renovators replaced the roof with a different and inappropriate angle / weight / material, put concrete tanking wherever damp had appeared, shored up floors with anything to hand from the local pit (railway line, for instance) and generally did a Friday afternoon job.

Then the pit underneath caught fire, was closed and a wave of subsidence went through - although as this was the mine manager's house there is a pillar under our house and garden so it got away lightly.

We bought it knowing all this and working with a structural engineer, had underpinning done. We're still stripping off C20 tanking, pebble dash render, damp-proofing etc etc, but bad builders have been with us for centuries - don't just blame modern ones.

The last 10 years has been a saga of removing everything done in the C20 and letting the poor thing breathe. It still creaks of a night, occasionally, but so do I and I'm much younger.
I'm trying to bring it back to something Jane Austen might have recognised as a "cottage" - it resembles her description in Sense & Sensibility although ours is Northumberland, not S. Devon. But without the attic servants' quarters as the C20 roof design renders this impractical.

Working with and supervising builders directly on the bits we couldn't do ourselves, has been the solution, though the building inspectors are a nightmare and the regs. do not favour conscientious DIY any more.


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