Maintenance and Repair

Please do not change your windows to new double glazed ones, they will not have the style and character and what is more you will be destroying part of the historic fabric of your house.

It is very easy to make old single glazed timber windows nearly as energy efficient as modern ‘plastic’ or timber ones.  The means of achieving this can vary from simple DIY methods to employing a specialist window refurbishment firm with modern forms of weather stripping and draught proofing.  Closing-up of gaps around the sashes will both reduce the amount of air movement and noise that comes in from the outside.  Re-fitted windows should also be far less prone to rattling when the wind blows as the sashes will fit the frames better and the draught stripping will help ensure they fit snugly.

Broken panes of glass should be replaced with a thickness that matches that of the old glass, but wherever possible old glass should be retained as this is becoming increasingly rare.  I has a particular character as it distorts the light both through the window and as it is reflected externally and therefore subtly displays its age.

If there are historical shutters fitted these should be restored to full and easy operation.  If shutters are not available then heavy curtains can be fitted across and close the window, rather than over window recesses.  Both of these methods can greatly improve energy savings.

Secondary glazing can be fitted to the inside of the window and will further help reduce energy (heat) loss and improve noise reduction.  There are many forms of such glazing that can be fitted and this very much to personal choice of how it affects appearance and the operation of the window.

First it is necessary to get details of the design of the original carpet in the form of good photographs and possibly also a drawing of the pattern.  The more information and the more accurate this is then the better the reproduction can be so it worth taking time to gather this together.

Then the information is taken to a specialist carpet maker, of which there are several in the UK who will produce a computer based drawing, to scale, of the original carpet, which will show the colour and the repeat of the pattern.  This drawing is normally A4 size and is for the client’s approval and be checked against the original.

If the drawn design is acceptable then a carpet trial is produced and is a one-off piece made on a specialist trial carpet weaving machine.  Its purpose is to show the design and colours, but not the quality as the backing is an inferior type, as it is to demonstrate is the number of tufts per square inch or ten centimetres.

Once approved between the customer and the manufacturer this is used as the basis for the final production run.  The production minimum for broadloom carpet is approximately 200 – 300 sq m per weaving.  However a narrow width (Wilton weave) is either 69 or 91 cm wide and the lengths are then stitched together to form a wide carpet, with a normal commercially viable weave run of approximately 50 sq m

It is possible, because of the size and type of the trees that they may be having an effect on the foundations, but that depends very much on the type of property that is involved.  If the building has a cellar, that may give more support to the property because the base walls will go down a considerable distance and therefore will be less prone to movement caused by the effect the roots.  If the property only has shallow foundations, which is quite typical for houses built up until the beginning of the 20th Century, and even after, then they may start to have an effect.  This movement is typically caused by drying of the sub soil, especially where this is clay, but can also be due to direct impact of the roots.

Before taking any trees down, you need to check whether it is in a conservation area and/or if there are tree preservation orders on them.  Both of these questions can be answered by an enquiry to the local planning authority.  If you are in a conservation area or if there is a tree preservation order in place, then planning permission will be required for their pruning or removal.  You will need to justify why the tree should be taken down and will probably require a report from either a structural engineer or an arboriculturalist to support such a planning application.

It should be noted that, after a tree has been taken down, particularly if it is large well established tree, then damage to the property can still result as the ground, which has been dried out and shrunk then re-expands, as it re-absorbs moisture.  Therefore a different set of cracking can occur, but it is not usually as severe as that caused by the subsidence.

If you are sure your house is not listed then in you can change the windows provided it is not protected in some other way, such as being in a conservation or similar restricted area.  If the property is in a protected area then planning permission will be required before any work can be commenced.

However, building regulation approval is likely to be required.

If, as we would expect, they are coated with modern paint then you can continue to use modern paints on the interior unless you want to go to the expense and mess of having it all stripped off and start again.  Using a ‘breathable’ paint over an earlier modern one will have no particular benefit to the internal fabric as any ‘harm’ in reducing the vapour permeability of the surface has already occurred.

It is worth noting that very few paint manufacturers actually provide the vapour permeability for their products, and when they do there is often very little difference between them, whether from a big DIY store or boutique name.  Whilst some advertise as being vapour permeable, the actual / effective level of such can be minimal, but they are still not using a falsehood.

It is externally that the permeability of the wall fabric is important, but if this is restricted by the use of many layers of modern masonry paints on cement renders it is potentially entrapping moisture in the underlying fabric.  That is what can result in apparent internal dampness due to interstitial condensation forming in the wall thickness and reducing is overall thermal efficiency.  Until aspects such as the external coatings are fully addressed then, as with the interior, modern commercial paints may as well be used.

For redecoration of external joinery we always recommend the use of traditional linseed oil paints, but only after the existing coatings have been stripped back to bare surfaces, re-primed, undercoated, etc.  This paint provides a thicker and more flexible coating than do modern alkyd type paints and so provides a longer and better protection.