2009 Yearbook

36 Y e a r b o o k 2 0 0 9 BUILDING · CONSERVATION INSTITUTE · OF · HISTORIC · Hall and Ensom Hall and Ensom is an established firm of specialist surveyors based in the South Midlands. Martin Hall , partner and HESPR Designated Service Advisor (DSA) for the practice, highlights the importance of employing specialist consultants and contractors for the repair of ordinary Georgian and Victorian houses. Since setting up a surveying practice in 1993, I have often been asked to look at period properties, particularly for a pre-purchase inspection. In my experience there seems to be a common theme running through many of the cases that I look at, issues that we in our profession need to address: a lack of maintenance and poor quality of work. There seems to be a general reluctance to maintain and repair historic fabric and, when it does finally dawn on the owners that some action is needed, advice is often not sought from the relevant experts. Instead they turn to ordinary builders, local contractors and damp-proofing firms, as well as non-specialist surveyors or other professionals who have no great experience or interest in older buildings, other than perhaps the obvious one of making a living. We need to get the message across to a wider audience of owners, builders and surveyors that the survey and repair of historic buildings require special skills. While the major historic homes tend to attract the attention of conservation officers and clients, and specialist contractors are usually employed to undertake works, in my experience this is not the case with all older buildings. Our practice has recently worked on a number of properties where we have fought an uphill battle to persuade contractors and clients alike to accept key fundamentals: for example, that damp proof courses do not exist in old buildings and are not always necessary, and that lime plasters are readily available today and are most effective in dealing with residual dampness in most types of old properties, whether they are of stone or brick construction. Cromwell’s House: the building was used as General Fairfax’s HQ during the civil war. Heavily modified in 1906 with a side extension and large dormers, conservation repairs and minimal replacement of stonework were recently carried out under the direction of Martin Hall. The finished house showing high water transpiration through mortar joints due to the use of lime mortar Detail of repairs and new stonework prior to limewashing Lime mortar repairs to a Headington or Wheatley limestone wall of circa 1600