Transforming a Georgian Coach House

A Georgian Coach House in mid Cornwall at the rear of a grand terrace. This building would have been for horses to sleep in and for the storage of hay from the fields above. In recent years it has been used as an artist’s studio and a store.

Issues:

Its conversion to a dwelling was essential to secure its future. As a home, it became economically worth restoring and will now be cared for for many generations to come. The building was structurally sound and ready to convert, but with the building control requirement that it be dry inside, it needed a means of expelling moisture that rises through the walls from the ground. The plans specified modern tanking internally so in the absence of a damp proof membrane, the walls had to be able to breathe through their permeable outside faces. The 1970s exterior paint therefore had to go. 

Materials & Solutions:

The paint was chipped off by hand with a pin hammer, and the red bricks were cleaned with a needle gun driven by compressed air.

Leaving the external stone faces exposed was an option, especially if the stones were repointed. The stone faces are very soft, pointing is very time consuming and leaving faces bare exposes them to the weather and leaves them prone to damage. Also the stones were in many cases small and not ideally suited to pointing. This left options to render either with one or three coats for a contoured or flat finish respectively; either finish can be smooth to touch depending on technique and the fineness of the sand used. Bag rubbing one coat was deemed the most appropriate to the style of building and left the character of the building on show. It is also much more affordable than the three coat flat render that is typically only seen on the front elevation of Georgian terraces. Cornwall Lime Builders used a modern air compressor to apply the Cornish Lime Company supplied lime and sand. One face was sprayed in one morning with the afternoon spent pushing the render into the raked out joints. The next morning was spent achieving a smooth finish on that face with a sponge. Five or six people were working full time on site for a total of around 30 man-days. It’s a messy operation so lots of time is spent cleaning. The finished render is softer than the stone, weatherproof, breathable and attractive. It could now be painted in lime wash or modern Beeck paint but we’ll wait and see how it dries.

We liaised closely with the property owner who sourced his own contractor to assist with the works.