Thursday, 14 May 2015

Installing a limecrete floor in the Sitting Room - part 1

The ripping out of the bathroom was a deviation from the plan caused by us having a skip for 3 weeks and needing to maximise what we could get in to it. The proper job that we are working on is the installation of breathable limecrete and flagstone floors in the Sitting Room and Hallway.

The first part of the process is to drop the level of the solid earth floor by 6 or 7 inches to create a moisture barrier of non-wicking expanded glass 'stones' called Glapor. This stops any moisture from directly contacting the limecrete layer but allows it to breathe/evaporate slowly.

 The Sitting Room floor is comprised of VERY hard packed clay and stones, and has been a back-breaking job to dig out with a mattock and shovel.

It took 3 days to dig the floor down to a fairly uneven level because my back isn't as strong as it could be (poor lifting posture is taking its toll) and I'm of the opinion that there's no sense in overdoing things...!

The earth which was removed from the floor was, in places, still very damp despite this room having not had any flooring other than dirt for many months.

Digging out the wetroom floor

I spent a happy couple of hours digging out 4-6 inches of concrete and various leaking pipes from the wetroom floor of the downstairs WC. 

I'm not sure when it was built - best guess would be 10 years ago - but there was clear evidence that the PVC solvent joints in the pipework under the floor had failed and the surrounding concrete has been saturated and broken down by the water and chemicals put down the drains.

I also found the radiator pipes, concreted in to the floor but protected by a plastic bag. It had pretty much rotted away.

I also discovered what looks to be several generations of drainage. Below you can see a modern concrete drain (left) with gulley. And then on the right, under a layer of poured concrete, a still-connected older clay drain, in to which a PVC pipe has been dripping. The PVC pipe was connected to something which had been ripped out and filled with silicone sealant.

Finding an original back door to the house

I finished knocking out the downstairs WC and once the whole thing was stripped back to the stone and brick it revealed the way in which the house had been built, and later adapted, and explained why it has a very odd archway construction (above the pink tiles in the below photo).

In the above photo, you can just about see the relationship between the doorway and the arch. And below you can see the doorway in more detail. 
What we revealed was that the doorway has an original decorative brick arch above it, which was a delightful surprise to find. A little pondering made me realise that this was actually the original back door to the house when it was first built as a rectangular stone building (circa 1840, we think).

We know from old maps that the house became an L-shape some time before 1880, and that L-shape consisted of an extra construction of the Kitchen, Bedroom 3 and the downstairs WC, all built in brick and tied in to the older stone cottage. However, whoever built it made a very odd decision... They built the East wall of the brick extension so that it ran through the back door, and through the middle of a window directly above this door. For the sake of an extra 12 inches of space, they've had to create the odd brick arch so the back door (now the doorway in the above photo) can be opened. Very strange indeed.