Old Buildings: Why Things Go Wrong

 

 

Old buildings do not behave like new ones. Taking proper care of them requires skills that most owners (and contractors) do not have.

When things go wrong with an old building it is most often associated with:

  1. Improper repairs;
  2. Lack of maintenance;
  3. Lack of understanding of how the building works.

 

 

There are a number of interventions that can have an adverse effect in old buildings. Typical examples are:

  • External or internal cement rendering.
  • Cement pointing.
  • Introduction of heating at too high temperatures.
  • Impermeable plastic paints.
  • Waterproof coatings.
  • Sealing up disused chimneys.

 

Brick damaged by cement render at Brandon House Hotel

Brick damaged by cement render at Brandon House Hotel

 

Improper cement pointing in brickwork, Wexford town Post Office

Brickwork with improper cement pointing at Wexford town Post Office

 

Improper cement pointing in brickwork, Wexford town Post Office

Lime pointing well visible behind this improper cement pointing at Wexford town Post Office

 

Bricks in Wexford town 20150128 (74)

Spalling of brick and inadequate cement repairs at Spawell Road, Wexford. Luckily the brick cornice survives!

 

Inadequate cement repairs at Brandon House Hotel

Inadequate cement repairs at Brandon House Hotel, New Ross

 

Non permeable paint

Blistering and peeling of a non-permeable paint. Image courtesy of Historic Scotland.

 

A fine example of lime pointing at Kilmainham Court, Dublin

A fine example of lime mortar pointing at Kilmainham Court, Dublin

 

A fine example of lime pointing at Brandon House Hotel, New Ross

A fine example of lime mortar pointing at Brandon House Hotel, New Ross

 

 

There is little point in covering up problems if you do not find the source of them and repair the real problem.

It is important to know when specialist advice is needed. It is a false economy not to get the best advice before having work carried out. Bad repair works can be difficult and expensive to undo. They can damage a building in the long-term and devalue your property.

Isabel Barros is a RIAI Architect Accredited in Conservation at Grade 3.

 

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4 comments

  1. Old Buildings: Why Things Go Wrong
    There are a number of interventions that can have an adverse effect in old… https://t.co/11Bbj0Cizz

  2. Old Buildings: Why Things Go Wrong via @barros_isabel https://t.co/J7EGICn0GM

  3. You can also add: Exposing stonework by removing lime rendering for aesthetic reasons, causing water impregnation

  4. […] Recommended reading: Old Buildings: Why Things Go Wrong […]

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