Classic sole plate repair
The very latest renovation work has been on this rather interesting farmhouse; one half very early open hall and the other appears to be a 16th century re-build using components from a very high status medieval frame. It’s been suffering from classic late 20th century ‘improvements’, involving the use of bitumen roofing felt (in the walls!) and many layers of thick hard cement.
Some interesting ‘close studded’ girders used as a cross-rail, sidewards!
Almost the entire sole plate needs some work, but initially the Southern wall get’s the attention first. This has suffered from such severe rot that the sole plate has started to ‘roll’. This is where the outer lower edge of the plate rots away completely, allowing the pressure from the studs, which are usually faced to the outer edge, to drop and make the sole plate roll outwards. This quite often gives the impression of a flared base to the building. A common and bad resolve for this is to buttress using a course of bricks or shuttered cement.
Quite innocent before opening up…
The frame is always carefully propped before any removal of render, as quite often the load is shifted from frame to render as the timber degrades. The sole plate had rotted almost entirely, though a small section was retained requiring a scarf joint to the new green oak sole plate…
Fortunately the existing studs were in good enough condition to retain, requiring just a couple of short scarfs to reinstate the tenons.
Some of the panels still had an amount of original wattle and daub, which tends to fall out when removing the material around it. The daub (clay /straw mix) is held in place by being bound to the wattles (hazel), which over time deteriorates to an almost dusty consistency. A local woodland supplied the new hazel wattles, which were traditionally tied to the horizontal staves. These staves lodge into slots and holes in the sides of the studs.
The wonderful thing about clay is that it can be reconstituted, so the original material goes back in place with a lot more new straw. And no, there is no manure in there! Which I believe is a rural myth, but if you have ever mixed this stuff it might be easier to use hooves of your available livestock! (hence the possible extra ingredient!)
The the upper central panel was retained, and a smooth finish applied to the new sections to match.
The remainder of panels have been filled with a wood wool fibre board, which provides a breathable and grippy surface for a traditional chalk / lime render. The cavity has been filled with sheep wool insulation. The exterior has been traditionally oak lathed, to take a coat of chalk / lime / hair mix render. This is pre-mixed by Anglia Lime Company, their formula has been created from careful research into historic renders found on buildings in this area. Other similar products from other suppliers, particularly in the West country, are not suitable for use on our timber framed buildings.
Inside before a lime/ chalk render finish.
The oak lathe fixed and ready for render. (it’s a shame to cover as looks so nice!).
One thick coat of hairy lime/chalk render, just needs a few dozen coats of limewash!