Old Farmhouse Walls The Building Inspector Was Not Impressed.

The Inspector Calls!

These old farmhouse walls can be saved!

In my humble opinion masonry repair was necessary. The bulldozer had given the wattle and daub a good shaking up but it could be repaired.

Old Farmhouse Walls Restored. Yes or No?

The clay lump behind the brickwork was seriously disturbed and we had to find a way of stabilizing the wall.

The bulging wall is due to clay on the internal wall falling between the internal and external walls and forcing the brickwork out.

Can you see the gaps where the render has fallen out?

The construction inspector didn't want a masonry repair. 

He wanted this part of the farmhouse walls taken down and rebuilt

And who can blame him. But I wanted it to stay. I did explain we are were not in the business of building something new when there is a good chance of using  masonry renovation techniques.

He compromised by recommending a local structural engineer from Attleborough to have a look. And would not be happy with anything less.

The engineer and I met on site and much to my surprise he was very sympathetic to my point of view. 

Within days the engineer had sent me a workable solution.

Using 30 stainless steel ties it was possible to tie the brick wall into the timber frame and hold the wall in position without causing any more disturbances to the clay.

I was happy because I kept the wall and I was still on good terms with the building inspector.

How It's Done?

A hole is drilled through the brick skin on the outside and through the timber frame behind it. The drilled hole is recessed by about 1/2" both outside and inside.

Cross Section of Wall

Timber Frame on the Inside Wall

A stainless steel bolt is then passed through and fixed to the frame with a stainless steel nut. Any excess thread is cut off.

Stainless steel is a good material because it doesn't rust.

By filling the holes you create an invisible and permanent repair both inside and outside.

This process had to be repeated for all the ties - spacing them equally over the more vunerable part of the gable end wall.

Each hole was carefully filled with mortar - darkened to match the existing mortar.

What Does It Look Like Now.

You can see that the general pointing of the wall is far more obvious than the "invisible" 30 odd tie holes. So the wall renovations were a success.

You don't have to look far for examples of this type of masonry restoration in and around Norwich.

A farmer friend of mine showed me how he tied this clay lump wall. The arrangement is the same on the other side.

The farm insurer has seen examples of cows getting crushed to death under unstable walls like this.

How Were The Walls Made?

Coming back to my house. The clay in the walls was probably dug from the pond or “pit” behind the house. The infilling is wattle and daub - hazel sticks, or “wattle” fixed upright between the timber frame and covered with clay or “daub”.

Old Wall

New Wall

Partly Finished Masonry Repair

By the way Wattlefield is also the name of a nearby village and suggests that wattle was grown here on a large scale to support the local "building projects".

The building had a thatched overhanging roof at one time which gave the walls added protection. So when a new smaller roof was put on a brick skin was probably built at the same time to maintain that protection.

The builders - from Norwich - who helped to renovate the old farmhouse walls  really enjoyed using the clay, straw, and sand mixture. Lime putty and sand made the perfect plaster to finish with.

Much of the clay had to be replaced as well as some of the crumbly oak timber frame.

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