Renovation and Restoration of a 1930’s House (13) Unforeseen Challenges

Front elevation with tiled roof

Front elevation with tiled roof

However well thought out and planned, unforeseen problems can arise during the execution of the works. It wasn’t until we reached roof level, when we had found a carpenter, accepted his quote, booked him in and about to order the joists, that the builders noticed a discrepancy with the architects drawings, that didn’t make sense. They looked at the engineers drawings and calculations and although different to the architects, didn’t work either. The roof structure was quite complicated, breaking into the existing, building around the existing chimney stack and creating gully’s.During a site meeting the builder suggested removing the chimney stack. This would save time and money and make the roof construction easier. The original brick tied fireplace in the small sitting room would probably rarely be lit, if ever, be used as an open fire. We could also remove the chimney breast wall in the bedroom above making it bigger and a less awkward shape.

The chimney breast was removed from the bedroom, which solved twp problems at once.

The chimney breast was removed from the bedroom, which solved twp problems at once.

The builder and carpenter worked out the calculations accordingly. Interesting though, you pay architects and engineers a lot of money for their services, and the experienced builders and trades notice the errors and sort out the problems.

The master bedroom is having a vaulted ceiling, so two steel beams had to be hoisted and maneuvered by a crane over the house into place. It was exciting to watch. I have to say how clever builders and trades people are, they think ahead. Piles of raw materials stacked ready to be made into a home.

The rear external wall from the existing house into the extension (master bedroom)  has been knocked through. However, the floor levels are slightly different. This could not be foreseen as the floor in the exisitng bedroom slopes very slightly. It is not enough to form a step, it’s more of a ‘trip’. Ideas and suggestions have been discussed, from laying more chipboard flooring on the extension floor, to lifting the original bedroom floor which slightly at one end. A decision hasn’t been decided, but needs to be made soon.

The roofers have arrived and we now have a roof! We were lucky with the weather whilst the work was in progress. The roof tiles we salvaged from the garage have been re- used at the front, which seamlessly matches the existing. Reclaimed tiles have been used elsewhere to blend in too. Whilst the roofers were tiling the roof, the rear garden was leveled , a crushed concrete base at the bottom of the garden for a patio area and path was laid half way down the garden.  Indian Sandstone slabs have been laid on top of the crushed concrete. This has been done now as the rear garden is accessible with a digger, prior to the small side mud and plant room being built at the side of the house. Raised vegetable beds constructed from wooden sleepers have been laid and filled with top soil.  Turf has been laid from the bottom of the garden, three quarters of the way to the house. No point in doing any more until the rear work on the house has been completed – it would get ruined. I always think that the transformation of a garden when the turf has been laid is like laying a new carpet in a freshly finished room, it completes it.

We are not in the ‘dry’ yet though, due to the windows. This has been quite a marathon. Architects drawings and sizes were sent to different companies for quotes. Some companies could supply the windows but the roof lanterns and sloping glass would have to be sourced from a different company. Some companies were helpful asking questions we hadn’t considered about ‘openings’ to meet building fire regulations and handle choices. Some companies just returned a quote without asking these important points or offering ideas, a little indifferent. The quotes varied too by several thousand pounds. However, the cost of our preferred  aluminium windows is prohibitively expensive.  One company came to measure the finished apertures, and then asked me which window cills I wanted, tile creasing’s or oak, (£106.00 per metre plus vat for oak). We assumed, as no one had mentioned it before that the cills would be aluminium. This was an extra cost on top of the window quote, and to be honest why have maintenance free windows with wooden cills which require maintenance? Tiles would be more durable, but the materials and labour costs still have to be added to the overall budget for the windows. Spending such a large proportion of the budget on the windows is not an option. The bi-fold doors, roof lantern and sloping roof will be aluminium for strength, but the windows will be UVPC. All windows and doors will be a dark grey RAL ( a universal colour chart chart in the industry) 7016. The window style will be as near as possible to the original Crittal window style to keep the character of the house. We have instructed a local family run company who manufacture and install the windows themselves. This way we have more flexibility in the required design.

The huge steel beam supporting the bi-fold doors and roof glass has been a sticking point. There are no details on the architects drawings showing how this should be finished to take the doors and glass. The architect, when asked for details explained that he had’t been asked for them, and would happily supply them for an extra fee! I have asked our structural engineer instead to provide the details. The builders can then do the necessary works for the window company to measure the apertures and make. As stated before, window companies will only start making the windows when the aperture is finished. This causes problems removing existing windows where the aperture is changing with security and the elements. Whilst the scaffolding is up and before the lower roof is built the soffits and fascias have been put on and the rendering applied. What a difference covering the block work makes. It is beginning to look like one house, at the back at least. Of course the biggest transformation will be when the windows go in.

2 thoughts on “Renovation and Restoration of a 1930’s House (13) Unforeseen Challenges

  1. Hi Sarah

    I have been reading your blog with interest today. We have extended our 1930’s semi detached house, using aluminium bifolds in RAL 7016 and are now looking at replacing or repairing the original crittal windows. Like you I am concerned the proportions of upvc frames will harm the character of the house, despite a lot of the houses on our road having done this. What did you go for in the end? Did you replace with aluminium or upvc in dark grey?
    I haven’t had any luck finding someone who restores originals and makes them more efficient with wind proofing etc.
    Good luck with the project. It is a lovely house
    Ben

    • Hi Ben, Firstly please accept my sincere apologise in the lateness in replying to your request for information. My blog is also way behind with updates due to a family bereavement, but hope to be back up to speed soon. Like you, the cost and efficiency of restoring and secondary glazing the original windows was prohibitive on the restoration budget, as was replacing with new double glazed ‘ Heritage’ Crittal windows. I found a company called Velpac, who manufacture aluminium exterior with wood interior Criital style windows who were very reasonable. Unfortunately they did not do matching bi fold doors which we needed. In the end we went for UVPC ‘ Crittal’ style windows in RAL 7016 which were made to order by a company who made their own windows and installed them. I’m surprisingly very happy with them, and will post a more up to date photo on my site shortly, or I can email them directly to you so you can see. However, as your query was some months ago, you may have made ready made your decision. I hope this is of some help.

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