Restoring a Fire Damaged Home to Its Traditional, Historic Beauty

This thatched cottage in Worcestershire suffered an extremely bad fire. This left the downstairs of the property severely damaged, the second floor almost lost and the roof completely demolished.

“It’s an emotional rollercoaster losing your home in a fire,” says Alex Coppock, architect, Communion Architects. “The resurrection project was all about recreating a healthy home than honoured the cottage’s traditional beauty.”

“The historic fabric and traditional structure of the part-Medieval, part-Victorian cottage had been almost destroyed,” says Alex. “It needed a lot of care to restore it to its former glory.

“As different areas of the property were in different conditions, designing the right solution was challenging. It was difficult to know where to start. We worked with Timothy Smith Builders Ltd to bring the project to life.”

Matching tradition and heritage

“The cottage was a listed building, so we collaborated with the conservation officer and followed Historic England guidance to ensure we preserved the historical elegance of the property and best practice,” says Alex.

“Breathability was also incredibly important. Much of the water damage from the fire had dried out, but the original structure of the building only contained an ‘outer leaf’ wall.

“An ‘outer leaf wall’ means that as soon as the outside wall gets wet, the inside wall becomes vulnerable to damp.

“Protecting the building, called for a way to keep it dry, healthy and comfortable for a long time to come. We specified a woodfibre board with a lime plaster internally and lime render externally. The cottage was originally built using lime-based products and had stood the property in good stead all these years until fire tore it apart.

“Lime Green was recommended to us by a friend who’d used their mortars, plasters and renders on several occasions and found them to be ideal.

“They gave us a ‘one-stop-shop’ for all the lime-based materials we needed: Internal Warmshell Insulation (IWI) system (woodfibre insulation boards topped with Solo lime plaster) and an external lime render.

“We had some great technical advice from the Lime Green team. They helped us understand our lime-based options, how different products and materials work together, and how to get the best results. Their products make lime very easy to use.

“It is so good to return the cottage back to its former glory, with modern versions of the honest materials that would have been used in the Medieval and Victorian eras.”

Restoring traditional beauty

“I’d used traditional lime products before, but the process was always much slower – waiting for up to seven days between coats while the material fully dries out,” says Ian Miller, master plasterer.

“Lime Green’s materials were much quicker to use – just put a coat on, notch with a trowel, embed mesh all over, apply another 3mm on top, flatten, leave for 1.5 hours and finish with a trowel. That’s it – you do the wall once, instead of up to three times, as with other lime plasters I’ve used.

“The products – Solo (one coat lime plaster) and Ultra (insulating base coat) – are great and easy to work with. Once you’ve got the consistency right, they’re easy to apply and the finish is absolutely fantastic.

“The homeowner is so delighted with the finish, they and the architect have agreed just to seal the walls and to leave them unpainted – something you only usually do if you’re polishing or marbling plaster.

“It’s a learning experience at the start, as you begin to understand how to use the lime plaster, but it’s incredibly easy to pick up. If it does start to dry, you can damp it down and it comes back to life again. It’s very workable.”

An elegant finish

“The homeowner is thrilled,” says Alex. “The project has delivered the best of both worlds: a restored home, using traditional materials, which means it will stay dry and warm.”

“The home looks absolutely beautiful. Everyone involved couldn’t be happier with the results,” finishes Alex.

“Lime Green’s experience and knowledge in regard to the project specifications, and the team’s practical assistance on site, means we’ll definitely be recommending them for future projects.

“It’s been a privilege working with a team of talented and experienced contractors, hand in hand with Lime Green, to give this historic cottage the opportunity to continue to be a beautiful dwelling for anyone who becomes part of its future story for hundreds of years to come.”

To find out more about the materials used, please get in touch.

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