Hi. I am moving to an old building that needs modernising, I am keen t
do it in a simpathetic way and would welcome advice. The house needs
complete re-wire, the walls are plastered by lath and plaster, can
chase these walls out in order to re-wire and having re-wired can
apply a lime plaster over the existing lath and plaster to make goo
the wall. Also one of the rooms is converted from an old cowshed, i
is below the main house building and suffers from a small amount o
damp, the surveyor recommends "tanking" this room, I have read a littl
on tanking but would I need to tank the whole room or just the wal
suffering the damp problem, can I do this myself or would I be bes
employing a tradesman to do this work. Many thanks for any hel
this is the place to start:
yes, but dont go deep enough to cut thru the laths.
L&P walls also generally mean hollow walls, so it may be easier to
thread the wire into the cavity and out wherever you next want it...
yes. (I assume you know limelite is not lime.)
If youve got L&P walls, what construction is this, wood frame? Tanking
old properties is something of a bad idea generally, but tanking wood
frame is a no-no. This forum is a great all rounder, with lots of
specialist knowledge, but really not the place to ask about damp and
old properties. Try the above place for suitably tailored advice.
Anyway, its a cowshed. You have to use bits of cow hair combed out at
midnight of the new moon, and cow dung gathered only from selected cows
that have been driven widdershins round a stone circle and fed on grass
And without a black cat skeleton in the eaves, you haven't got a chance
of it standing more than a fortnight anyway.
I am just quoting proper traditional methods of building, that every
*proper* restoration person should always adhere to to be authentic.
I didn't even insist that you had to be suffering from chronic
malnutrition, TB, and have a starving wife and 14 children at home in
your hovel either.
Which, according to the best tradition, is how the authentic tradesman
of 300 years ago lived..
I mean, if we are going to be serious about period properties, this is
all utterly relevant. You can't possibly have a period property without
damp, rot, mould, mice, rats, no sanitary facilities or running water,
electricity oil or gas...and the necessary effects these would have on
the workmen building the place.
Pissing in the plaster was probably a lot quicker - especially after a
couple of gallons of cider - than walking half a mile to the well to get
a bucket of water.
Be extremely suspicious of advice you receive from Meow. He is a period
property evangelist, not a sane sensible practical engineer.
The first thing you have to do is establishe teh ground rules.
Is this a museum restoration, in which you wish to retain the original
structure, warts and all, as much as possible?
Or do you want a restoration that reflects the spirit and character
without the problems?
Take the cowshed. Chances are its timber framed on a non DPC'ed brick
plinth with very little foundation to it.
1/. Underpin it to stabilise the foundations, stick in a real or
injected DPC, dig inside it and lay a proper DPC'ed floor, and then make
good any rot in the frame.
2/. Tank the inside of the brick plinth, which will drive the rising
moisture outwards. BUT it will reach higher, and unless you put a DPC
under the wood frame, it will rot faster this way than it probably is
3/. Use a lot of heat and ventilation and porous coverings to control
the damp by internal evaporation. And maybe dig a french drain around
the outside to channel the water table lower around the building, and
lower te problem.
4/. Knock it down and build a cowshed on proper foundations with UFH
and full DPC using nice bits of oak frame etc etc. And of course double
glazed and fully insulated.
1/. is the best if you have a listed building probably, 4/. is the best
if its not. 3/. is the worst, but the most 'purist' museum approach. 2/.
is a reasonably cheap bodge that will get you most of what you want for
It's perfectly possible to build a modern house that *looks* just like
an old one. And to current building regs to.
It won't *feel* like one though. It will be warm dry and not smell
musty, and last longer because the moisture is controlled properly. It
won't have steep narrow staircases either, or floors that bounce up and
down and are distinctly non flat.
The choice is yours.
Remember cowsheds were cheap building knocked up to put cows in. Not
Bijoux Period Residences constructed for comfort and appearance and
You'll be unlikely to be able to chase out slots for cables in lath and
plaster wall because almost by definition, if you have lath and plaster
walls they are very friable, with the plaster shot and coming away from
the laths. You say yours is an old building so almost certainly that'll
be the case: make a hole in a l&p wall and almost guaranteed you'll be
able to pull off all the plaster with your fingers. You'll certainly
find a lot of patching up will be needed.
You might have some success routing cables within the cavity (ie behind
the laths) but it's problematical getting through horizontal and
vertical timber studwork within the cavity (you might be able to use
existing old cable in there to pull it through?
Oh dear. That must be why my old house was full of such..
You say yours is an old building so almost certainly that'll
Yep, old houses need patching yup whether or not you cut channels in the
lathm or not.
Indeed. Rip the bloody lot down and put up plasterboard.
If you liked the ripply crumbly rough textured lath, soak the
plasterboard first till its like a wet pack of porridge, and put it up
like that, and skim it with boning plaster with a bit of sharp sand in
it. Use hands to pat the plaster in place. No one will know its not been
done by a drunken 17th century tinker.
It's very easy to get a biased opinion through polling on uk.d-i-y.
You might like to contact the Society for the Protection of Ancient
Buildings (http://www.spab.org.uk /). They do reasonably priced weekend
courses (recommended), where you will get to meet lots of people at
different way-points in building restoration - and presentations from
trade professionals - including the opportunity of free brief
consultations. Take along photos and material samples from your place.
Whilst some elements of SPAB can be excessively purist, you will also
find much pragmatic advice.
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