Ready for the Big Reveal ?

A pair of x-ray eyes would be ideal for a building survey. It would reveal all sorts of strange and wonderful things. I always enjoy the opening up of building fabric, its the first step to making your building happy again !

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unhappy wall near Inverness MAAC Studio conservation architects

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This week we are carrying out repairs on a property near Inverness. The pristine white harl against the blue sky gives an appearance of an idyllic property, in good order. Although the reality was a little more concerning. The client has been struggling to deal with damp ingress for a long time.

As soon as we looked at the harl, we had a fair idea where our investigations were going to take us. A close examination revealed the hairline cracks that allow moisture into the wall and as cement is pretty much impervious, that’s where it stays, unable to get back out again.

It’s rare to find one single defect, there are usually two or three things working together and you need a good eye to spot when something doesn’t look right. When you do you need to mark it for further investigation and if you cant carry out the investigation straightway, make a reasonable assessment of what might be happening and ensure that there is a sum of money set aside to deal with it. We could see that there was an issue with the window sills, but until the harl came off we couldn’t be sure what we would find.

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White harl gives a false impression

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Lo and behold an old sill that has been set into the wall in a very strange and unexpected way. Normally a sill would project beyond the width of the opening to avoid having a joint in the corner like this. Here the water runs down the window, into the corners, through the joint and into the centre of the wall.

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defective sill in masonry wall needs conservation architect inverness highland

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Now that the harl is off we can also see that the problem is compounded by an earth mortar wall, which is extremely vulnerable to dampness and to being disturbed by alterations. Our next task is to investigate any voids that may have been washed out from the wall core and could become a reservoir, collecting water when it rains or a pathway for moisture through the wall. More on that in a future blog post.

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MAAC studio are accredited conservation architects and principal designers working with traditional buildings throughout Scotland. 

If you need independent advice give us a call ?