Featured post



This was used to keep the  outer chimney bricks from collapsing – maybe installed at a later date. Could be made from old cart spring


Another chimney support rescued from demolished chimney is part of an old cart axle – used now as support for stones used in smoking chamber – that now is part of stairwell ceiling


Hand made mud bricks –  these were put in under some branches used to prop up roof at a later date.  Made of sun-dried marle subsoil – did the job but dissolve quickly.  Mud cottages would not have been strange then and many are still lived in – nearly everything would have been at hand – branches for roof, mud for walls and straw for a roof.


Hand forged bolts and fireplace anchors in background – the last  local forge closed only in the last 10 years and perhaps his predecessors even made these items. In fore-ground is modern steel bracket used to hold wood plank which will carry curtain-rails; I had it made in the local engineering works. See  bracket used  over window in picture below.

2016-10-29-11-06-13 If you look at cut out shape in front of window you will see how I made the template using plasterboard to arrive at finished wood that goes from window under the lintel to the curtain plank. A very tedious job as each shape is different due to the walls construction.

2016-10-29-11-05-46so each window had its own shape to be done – no shortcuts with this job 2016-10-29-11-06-50



Doors where panels  were either rotten from sitting in a damp ruin for so many years or where the woodworm had their wicked ways. I routed out around the edge of the panel – the retaining door frame itself so releasing the rotten panel – only done on one side of course – great care has to be taken not to go through the panel  as you will have to fix a small quadrant on other side to hold the new panel. 3 ply is easily and cheaply bought.


This door below had so many layers of paint that I had to be careful to do it outside and keep removing the burnt off paint flakes as they were igniting the other fallen paint strips lying on the ground – it is a slow and painful process but had to be done as the paint was blistering and cracking.2017-02-03-12-30-051.jpg


view of stone soffit

As can be seen the stone soffit I wanted to retain, however, normally the slate comes to the edge of this and falls down too close for my liking to the walls of the house – there is enough damp already without more splashing from the roof.  So I got the local engineering company to make these supports that both carry the external roof wood and the facing soffit. Fitting again was fiddly as I was putting in 6 inches plus of 3/4 inch threaded bars (2 for each bracket) –  spacing was dependent on getting gaps in the mortar in the right place – variable as 2 holes to fit the bars – that is why the brackets are haphazardly put in.


close up of brackets

I tried to keep the outer soffit relatively straight so coachbolts have been used to fix on 6X2 wood – packing out each one to counter the in and out contour of the roof lip.

Also to stop birds and insects accessing the roof space I put in chicken wire and mortar at regular intervals – and a mesh for smaller crawlies. Also you need good airflow getting into the roof space – that it has.


Bedroom chimney rebuild – upstairs big room

cut open chimney for lintel – just below this can vaguely be seen a blocked up fireplace – done with cement blocks – my aim was to take out blocks – put in a lintel and leave – simple idea but labourious process so see the steps below


Backside of previous pic – downstairs parlour room – the good room and upstairs filled in op

Below are the steps of restoring the upstairs dividing wall, much time was spent trying to repoint deeply the surrounding stone wall so that removing material would not lead to a catastrophic collapse.

Having rebuilt parts of the wall below; including a rebuilt chimney stack, it was then possible to do upstairs.  However that wasnt going to be simple as two fireplaces – one downstairs feeds into the upper one; as I didn’t want a working one upstairs I decided to blank it  and focus on just  the one. No lintel was in place and the wall was crumbling so I built the left-hand side first and then put in the lintel – which had to be propped up (as well as the wall).

The wall was 2 feet shy of the ceiling in some places –  nothing straight and nothing stable


See pics above – some of these pictures are out of sink because this is what had to be done before I could form the new chimney – no wonder I don’t have any hair left –  this was a very heavy bit of stonework – I hazard a guess 1 ton plus is balancing.  I wanted to take it to floor level but the last builders cemented those bricks in place creating a rock solid mass resistant to the pneumatic drill I used years previously and nothing was going to shift them – and so I left it there to sort this problem later – bit silly really.

Rebuilding the chimney was never going to be straight forward and so this risky strategy had to be employed; which I do not recommend.

Dolphins Barn brick – a bit of history also from the city where I grew up

2013-11-02 12.09.47

Chimney wall completed – sigh of relief

So dummy beam out and new beam in but no partition wall as yet, oh and the wall is up to ceiling level. This area was originally divided into 3 rooms plus the attic mezzanine area – I have put it into two but with a corridor.

Lime Plaster and Mortar


Above shows just how effective windblown rain is at eroding the mortar and dashing on an exposed site.

  • large holes need to be cleaned out using a long screwdriver or thin trowel
  • take back to sound mortar – dont over do it as aged mortar is soft
  • brush out recesses
  • first pile in mortar
  • do not have deep holes full of mortar – fill with appropriate depth stone – big first and over lapping  to knit everything together
  • I use mallet with steel chisel to make a sound filler – do gently
  • fill with smaller stone to outside
  • now get thin springy trowel and work more mortar in

100_2075West facing gable – notice wall has only been repointed where mortar is missing – there is oold dashing above cleaned up part of wall so the mortar should be ok but if is in anyway soft I tend to take it off as it eventually will fail and drop off.

I filled all the holes on the outside of the walls – this adds to the walls integrity and prevents easy access by wind blown rain from coming inside.


This is the other gable and is facing east – so is much more sheltered then the west facing gable that takes the  brunt of the weather and the hot sun in summer ( some years that doesnt happen though)

Dashing that I use is NHL 3.5 and mix is strong – 1:2.5 – for me it provides a strong bind and is similar in some respects to a cement mortar – not as strong but breathable.

I use this mix inside as well for inside dashing to provide a good grip for plastering over


Bathroom – floor rethink


The new partition wall put in for small bathroom


I didn’t have any bigger piece of paper to size the area and get all its kinks – I used some old computer ream paper I have had in a box for the last 15 years – a good way to use it – however there are another 1000 or so pages to use.

So wood size taken and marked out on plywood sheets.  Next stage out with the old wood and so you get left with this


The finished base,  screwed in place ,ready for sealing and tiling20161029_110418

As can be seen in picture, the partition walls are standing on the old floorboards so I cut as close as possible to the edge.  Of course once the boards were out the joists underneath become a problem as all edges of ply over 6  inches need to be supported so additional bridging had to be installed.

This awkward shaped room came about because I wanted to have 3 bedrooms upstairs; originally judging by remains of plaster gaps where walls existed there may have been 5 rooms upstairs.  Traditionally these would have been walk through to the next one – I have been in an old house with a similar setup and found it interesting but not really practical in modern times – people like their privacy.

I obviously wanted a small bathroom upstairs but compromising another room wasnt on the cards as though 2 good size upstairs rooms are nice with a good size bathroom; however that additional bedroom/office would be more often used per square inch then a bigger bathroom.  So I intend putting the sink over the stairs area and cutting into the other room to accommodate the shower – to me this quirky set up goes with the houses’ character.

These sort of things only dawn on me at a later date – i.e. several years later – never said I was a genius. So explaining why the floorboards had to come up in that area – you cannot successfully tile on planks due to warping.