Sunday, 28 March 2010

Stop and look.

If there is one thing important I have learned since I restored my first house in France, it is to spend a lot of time looking at it before doing anything to it.
Most of the old buildings in rural France were built by local people who used local produce and made use of the local conditions. The shape and orientation usually are an adaptation to the weather and lie of the land. They were usually built on very shallow foundations which were sufficient to ensure the walls were stable and effectivly built on top of the ground they occupied, without any provison to prevent rising damp. They relied on the natural drying effect of the wind and sunlight on the walls, which were designed to breath through the materials of construction and finish. To retain the building in good condition the walls, soil around the house and inside the house must not seal in the humidity, otherise the structure will deteriate and dampness will progressivly engulf the walls and rapidly become an insoluble problem.
If you see some obvious problems with the fabric of the building, it is imperrative that you find out the reason before you try and deal with the problem. I have found that virtually all the problems I have found in old stuctures have been cause by someone doing something ill advised to the origonal structure.
I will dig out some examples for the next posting.
The clocks changed today and so the bar is open an hour early and I am going to take a glass.
à plus

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living in France