Holton St Mary update

Following on from last week's blog, we made repairs to the timbers at Holton St Mary, and we are now in the process of installing sheep's wool and savolit board for insulation. Sheep's wool is great as an insulator as it is a high density material. It is also one of the only fibres that has a naturally high nitrogen content, which means that it is flame resistant and self-extinguishing. Sheep's wool is also able to absorb and release excess moisture. It also good for sound proofing. It is a great natural and sustainable insulator, 

The savolit boards that we are using are natural panels made of wood fibres that are compacted and used as an alternative to plasterboard. They have a high resistance to moisture and frost, which as we discussed in a previous blog about damp problems in period properties, makes them a fantastic product to use in these buildings. They are also strong, and able to flex with the building, and like the sheep's wool, they have a low environmental impact.





Last week we told you about our new job in Holton St Mary. We are making good progress. We are removing the render to expose the timber structure. Once this is all off, then repairs on the timber will commence. More pictures to follow!


This week we started a new job in Holton-St-Mary. We will be removing the rough-cast render, replacing casement windows and box sash windows. The property also requires repairs to the timbers, and then lime plastering and decorating. We will keep ypu updated on our progress over the coming weeks.



Working on damp proofing a basement on Colchester

Damp is one of the main problems found in period properties, and certainly one that we come across a lot. There are over 4 million homes in the UK dating back to just the Victorian and Edwardian times, and some even older than that, so it is a very common problem. 

Signs to look for are rotting window frames, signs of leaks on ceilings and walls and musty smells or mould growth. Sometimes it is caused by owners over the years using inappropriate materials while repairing or renovating the house. For example, lime plaster was traditionally used in many of these buildings, and this allowed the property to ‘breathe’ as moisture can escape through it. Sometimes owners working on a budget, scrimp on this and use other ineffective materials such as cement-based pointing and render, causing moisture to build up and leading to damp problems, which ends up costing more money in the long run to rectify. Poor ventilation in the property is another potential cause of damp. There could also be damaged pointing, drains and gutters that can all cause problems.

We are fully qualified to restore period properties using traditional techniques, of lime plastering, lime rendering, to name but a few. Many jobs over the years have involved damp proofing properties and there are very few damp problems that are insurmountable. If you are thinking of buying a period property, it is always a good idea to have a damp survey carried out by a chartered surveyor who specialises in such buildings.


Another problem that is often encountered when buying a period property is that there may be electrical issues that require some serious rewiring! Occasionally you may find (particularly in Georgian and early Victorian houses) that there are no ceiling lights fitted. In those times, gas lights and candles were used, and sometimes previous occupants may have only had wall sockets installed, relying on plugging in lamps to light the rooms.

Generally, if a house hasn’t been rewired for 25-30 years, it will need rewiring to bring it up to modern standards and to keep up with our ever-increasing electrical demands. Rewiring a period property can be a messy job as wires will need to be chased into the walls, which will then need replastering and redecorating. You also need to consider wifi needs as thick walls in period homes can make wifi signals weak, so you may also need boosters put in around the home. It is a good idea to get an electrical installation condition report done for approx £350, which will outline the work required. Here at K.E. Jones & Son Building Services we are fully equipped to do all the required electrical work for you whilst maintaining the character and structure of your period property. Contact us to discuss your needs!


New Job in Ardleigh, Essex

This week we have started a new job in Ardleigh, Essex. We are repairing movement cracks with lime plaster and repairing the blown plaster with savolit board and lime plaster. Savolit board is a natural panel made of long, strong, wood fibres which are stabilised by chemical impregnation, and  bound by cement-binding agent into a compact structure. They are used as a natural alternative to plasterboard. The mineralisation process increases their fire resistance and they have many benefits which include being sustainable, no harmful gases or vapours are given off, they are naturally resistant to fungus and insects, and are hygroscopic, which means that they level out any changes in humidity. They are also ideal for use in buildings occupied by people sensitive to allergies. From a construction point of view, they are durable, and their surface offers a good base for render and plasters, as well as being compatible with all normal construction materials.


We thought we would do some more blogs on problems that can be encountered with period properties. One thing to look out for is woodworm. It is really important to identify a woodworm problem as early as possible, because otherwise if left untreated, it could result in structural failure of the infected timbers. So what is woodworm? Contrary to popular belief, there are several different types of woodworm beetles in the UK. These include the common furniture beetle, death watch Beetle, House Longhorn Beetle, and the Powderpost Beetle. The most common of these is the common furniture beetle. This beetle only measures about 4.5mm in length but can do an awful lot of damage! It attacks softwood species of timber, leaving little holes of 1-2mm which are the exit holes where the beetle leaves the wood. Unfortunately, by the time you spot these signs, the damage has been done. Another sign of an infestation is a fine dust known as frass, which is created by the woodworm as it chews its way through the wood. You may also see dead (or living!) beetles on or near the timber. 

Many species of woodworm beetle like damp wood, such as damp floorboards, damp loft timbers, and old furniture. The beetles lay their eggs on the timber, and the grubs burrow through it doing the damage. They exit the wood after around three years, leaving the telltale holes. If you suspect that you have a woodworm problem, it is important to get it sorted straight away. You can contact specialist companies who will perform a woodworm survey to establish the extent of the problem, the type of beetle, and the treatment required.

As with most things, prevention is better than cure, so to woodworm-proof your period property, we would recommend that you get rid of any damp problems. This is something that we have done for many of our customers. It is also important that you keep the house well heated and ventilated, and if required, wood should be sealed with the appropriate varnish. Always check before bringing in antique furniture into the home, that you are not bringing in a piece infected with woodworm.

If you do find woodworm in your home. We would advise getting a specialist to treat it. We are always happy to quote on any necessary structural repairs so that you can then enjoy your period home. Take a look at a property that we restored after a problem with death watch beetle .


Wissington Extension

We have been busy over at Wissington where we have built a small extension onto a property. Purpose-made windows are going in too.


Colchester basement renovation

Back at the beginning of the year, we started work on a basement renovation in Colchester. We had to strip it right back and waterproof it first of all. After several weeks of very hard work, the job is now complete, and we think you'll agree, it looks incredible!