Renovating or Maintaining Historic Buildings
ADVICE NOTE 1 - DAMP
Maintenance makes a difference - never put it off!
Damp is a potential problem for any building and can cause serious structural damage. The UK's wet, blustery weather and the recent run of harsh, cold winters underlines the importance of regular care: your money can be saved by tackling a few important maintenance tasks.
There are several types of damp, including rain penetration and condensation, and they are completely different. One is caused by poor external maintenance and the other by internal condensation that may be caused through poor ventilation.
Gutters should be clear of autumn leaves, twigs, old bird nests etc and be working properly. Any gutter that slopes the wrong way or discharges water onto the wall should be re-fixed. It is wise to check that down-pipes are working correctly.
Even a relatively small gap in the roof can let in damaging amounts of water. Roofs can be checked from the inside by looking for chinks of daylight in the attic. Outside, you might find that using a pair of binoculars helps to get a good clear view of potential problem points, especially damaged or slipped tiles.
Windows are another problem area and should be checked for decay, if possible by washing paintwork, rub down and repaint where necessary.
Many people do not realise that vegetation growing on or near a house needs monitoring. Trees and bushes should be pruned back. Ivy growing on a wall can trap moisture where decay may result and such vegetation should be removed, cut back or pruned carefully as soon as possible.
Inside, make sure that bathroom fans are working properly and that the whole house is aired regularly.
And here's a very important extra tip - remember to take care at all times. Wear protective equipment when necessary and never work at heights or use ladders if you are alone. If in doubt always seek help from a professional.
Any further advice on the above may be sought from Shropshire Council’s Conservation Officer: Ben Williscroft, E-mail: Ben.Williscroft@shropshire.gov.uk
Supported by: The Georgian Group (www.georgiangroup.org.uk) ,
The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (www.spab.org.uk) and The Ludlow Civic Society (www.ludlowcivicsociety.org)
ADVICE NOTE 2 - ROOFS, INCLUDING LEADWORK, GUTTERING AND DORMER WINDOWS
Owners of Georgian houses in Ludlow find that they shoulder a serious responsibility to preserve the character and appearance of these, mainly listed, buildings, however small. This applies also to their roofs. The roofs of Georgian houses were usually designed to be invisible from below (so it is important to keep an eye on the area behind parapets where debris collects), but in Ludlow with its hilly streets, they form an important part of the streetscape as well as the view from Whitcliffe. In this area, Georgian houses are generally roofed with slates or brown clay tiles.
The best advice on repair, reinstatement and sources for the correct materials is freely available on the website of the Georgian Group, http://www.georgiangroup.org.uk (click on 'Historical Building Repair/Roofs). Another useful website is http://www.buildingconservation.com/books/heritage-retrofit.htm
ADVICE NOTE 3 - BRICKWORK
The façades of the Georgian houses in Ludlow with their weathered bricks make a crucial contribution to the main streets, even if some of them are additions to earlier buildings which have received new façades to reflect the latest fashion. The town contains some excellent examples of Georgian brickwork, notably 39 Broad Street and (a little later) 16 Castle Street. There is also an interesting use of local stone shaped as bricks at 27 Broad Street and 4 Brand Lane. Unfortunately, in the past, there has been some poor repointing with cement which not only looks ugly, but which does not allow the bricks to breathe. Pointing should generally be done with lime mortar and should never project proud of the bricks themselves. Wherever possible, repairs should use reclaimed or carefully sourced bricks. Some brick exteriors have been rendered or faced with roughcast, and it seems to have become acceptable in the town to take the cheaper option of painting directly onto the bricks, but these practices lead to damp and deterioration.
The best advice on repair, reinstatement and sources for the best materials is freely available on the website of the Georgian Group, http:/www.georgiangroup.org.uk (click on 'Advice/Historic Building Repair/Brickwork).
Other useful websites:
Building Conservation: http://www.buildingconservation.com/books/heritage-retrofit.htm
SPAB Technical Notes on Brickwork: http://www.spab.org.uk/advice/technical-qas/technical-qa-2- brickwork/
ADVICE NOTE 4 - RENDER, STUCCO AND PLASTER
Ludlow has many examples of rendered finishes on both brick and stone. There is an obvious example of the latter at Stone House in Corve Street, and the stone drum towers at the Broad Gate have been rendered and cut to look like dressed stone, probably in the eighteenth century. At that time render was also applied to half-timbering, although most of this has now been removed.
Render should always be repaired on a 'like for like' basis. It is not advisable to strip it from brick or stone as the material underneath may be in a poor condition or was never intended to be exposed.
Houses with render or stucco exteriors should be painted in cream or soft colours, not bright white, and with due respect for their neighbours. Chemical damp treatments (ie DPC) should never be used.
Owners should always remember that repairs and alterations to listed buildings require Listed Building Consent, and in Conservation Areas advice and permission should be sought before work commences.
The best advice on repair, reinstatement and sources for the best materials is freely available on the website of the Georgian Group, http://www.georgiangroup.org.uk (click on 'Advice/Historic Building Repair/Render, Stucco and Plaster).
Other useful websites:
Building Conservation: http://www.buildingconservation.com/books/heritage-retrofit.htm
ADVICE NOTE 5 - METAL AND IRONWORK
Ludlow still has its fair share of good ironwork on Georgian houses, including gates, railings, fanlights, cellar covers and door furniture. Many sets of railings were removed during the Second World War (notably a fine set outside the Gatehouse in Lower Broad Street which were designed to match the pattern of the stonework round the windows above) but much remains. Railings were originally painted a dark green, but black became the normal colour in the 19thcentury.
There are occasional balconies such as that at 11 King Street, and some elaborate ironwork in gates and fanlights. However, the grills over basements and the cellar covers were intended to be as unobtrusive as possible, with simple iron bars and the covers painted a dark colour.
Metal door furniture on Georgian front doors should be of cast iron, painted black, or brass, never chrome.
The best advice on repair, reinstatement and sources for the best materials is freely available on the website of the Georgian Group,http://georgiangroup.org.uk (click on 'Advice/Historic Building Repair/ Metal and Ironwork).
Other useful websites:
Building Conservation: http://www.buildingconservation.com/books/heritage-retro-fit.htm
ADVICE NOTE 6 - DOORS
The front doors of Georgian houses create the important first impression. Ludlow has many examples of fine front doors with surrounding hoods, pediments, fanlights and pillars or pilasters. In Georgian times and for a century or so afterwards, front doors were invariably painted, presenting a variation in colour along a brick-built street. Stripping doors is historically inappropriate. Many doors in the eighteenth century, both external and internal, were made of pine which was always intended to be painted, and even heavy oak front doors, once they had weathered, might be painted too. Once an oak door has been painted, stripping is inadvisable, as no amount of varnish or staining will replace the original patina. Internal hardwood doors of fine quality may be left unpainted if they have always been so.
Replacing front doors must always be on a like for like basis. A new more modern door can reduce the character and authenticity of a house, and repair should always be considered before replacement. If a door has to be replaced it should observe the pattern of a genuine Georgian door, consisting of appropriate proportions in panelling, detail etc. Door furniture should be placed symmetrically and should be made of cast iron or brass.
Care should be taken in moving the position of internal doors as doing so may destroy the proportions of a room.
Owners should always remember that repairs and alterations to listed buildings require Listed Building Consent, and in Conservation Areas advice and permission must be sought before work commences.
The best advice on repair, reinstatement and sources for the best material is freely available on the website of the Georgian Group,http://georgiangroup.org.uk (click on Advice/Historic Building Repair/ Doors).
Other useful websites: Building Conservation, http://www.buildingconservation.com/books/heritage-retro-fit.htm
ADVICE NOTE 7 - WINDOWS
Windows are perhaps the most important feature of a Georgian house, as the eyes are in a face. The replacement of Georgian small-paned sash windows with Victorian plate glass or modern windows has done more than anything else to ruin Georgian façades. In Ludlow sash windows come in many different shapes and sizes, and although the 12 pane window is most common, there are many variations on this theme from quite small attic windows to full-blown Venetian windows as on No. 39 Broad Street.
Glazing bars became thinner as the 18th century progressed. There is at least one example in Ludlow of thin bars made of cast iron, but normally timber was used and with careful maintenance will last for hundreds of years. UPVC windows should never be used in any historic building. Even with imitation glazing bars, the proportions are not replicated to the correct standard. They always look wrong, often open in an inappropriate way and devalue the house.
The original crown glass panes remain in many of Ludlow's windows and should always be retained if possible, or replaced with reproduction crown glass which is readily available, and not plate/cylinder glass. Crown glass, in the way that it refracts the light, gives character and vitality to a window which contributes to the overall integrity of the whole building or group of buildings. Window frames should be repaired like for like and Victorian 'horns' should not be used in Georgian windows. As with doors, windows should be painted and not stripped or stained.
The modern demands for heat conservation have presented a challenge in Ludlow. The simplest method is draught-proofing with unobtrusive strips, and secondary glazing is acceptable. False glazing bars stuck on to a double-glazed window look wrong and almost invariably fall off! If the entire window is to be replaced, it is perfectly possible to use double-glazed panes set into conventional glazing bars as at 44 Mill Street. Those owners lucky enough to have the original shutters will find that they also help with retaining heat if they shut tightly enough. It is also important to remember that old houses need ventilation to prevent damp and mould.
Owners should always be aware that repairs and alterations to listed buildings require Listed Building Consent, and in Conservation Areas advice and permission should be sought before work commences.
The best advice on repair, reinstatement and sources for the best material is freely available on the website of the Georgian Group, http://georgiangroup.org.uk (click on Advice/Historic Building Repair/Windows.
Other useful websites: Building Conservation, http://www.buildingconservation.com/books/heritage-retrofit.htm
ADVICE NOTE 8 – PAINT COLOURS
Paint colours are often regarded as a matter of personal taste, and it is true that, unlike structural changes, inappropriate choices do not often do permanent damage to a building, but it is always wise to consider the impact of colours on the street as a whole. In Georgian towns houses are generally constructed in terraces, and, while colours do not have to be uniform, an unusual choice can look like a bad tooth in an otherwise perfect smile. It is important to remember, too, that Listed Building Consent is required for the painting or repainting of a listed building which would affect the historic character of that building, and in Conservation Areas advice should be sought before work begins.
Anyone hoping to recreate the original appearance of their Georgian house will find it easy these days to find ranges of historic colours to choose from, but these should be appropriate to the date of the house and dependent on whether the frontage is brick, stone or render. Modern brilliant white paint should not be used on Georgian houses, and flat paint is more appropriate than gloss. Cornices, window frames, door frames, fanlights and porches should generally be painted in stone colours or 'broken' white, and doors themselves should be painted 'off' black, brown, dark red or green, or another dark colour, or occasionally grained, but never stripped or varnished.
The best advice on paint colours for both external and internal decoration, as well as a very informative account of the history of paint colours at this period is freely available on the website of the Georgian Group, http://www.georgiangroup.org.uk (click on Historical building Repair/PaintColour).
Other useful websites;
SPAB: http://www.spab.org.uk/ advice/ materials and components/ paint.
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