Restoration drama of a Glamorgan farmhouse
Llanilid Farm was listed by Cadw as a Grade II 'sub-medieval, lobby entrance farmhouse with attached cow-byre'.
Llanilid Farm in Thomastown, Mid Glamorgan was once a manor house, built in the mid-1600s. When the last inhabitants moved out, it was left empty and became derelict, its current owners bought it in May 2007, and the crumbling house is now being restored by FMB member, Leonard Wood of L. Wood Construction Limited.
Only a few properties of this type survive in Rhondda Cynon Taff, Mid Glamorgan, so Cadw – literally meaning ‘to keep’ – felt it was important to maintain and preserve such a historic building.
Although Cadw had listed the building, Llanilid Farm’s owner still had to apply to Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council, for Listed Building Consent - Alterations (W), under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.
In considering the application, the council made various stipulations where certain elements of the restoration had to be made using traditional materials. It took 14 months of structural surveys, engineer’s reports and liaising between Cadw and the local council before permission was finally granted and work could begin.
Surveying the damage
When Leonard first went to look at the Llanilid Farm project in March last year, he established that repairs had been attempted in the past, but the materials used had actually contributed to its further decline. Water was draining off the nearby mountain right against the walls of the house encouraging earth banks to build up which had to be cleared away, and close, surrounding trees cast a shadow keeping the interior permanently gloomy.
In line with Cadw’s instructions, Llanilid farm had to be restored using traditional materials and methods, so to ensure that Leonard and his workers knew exactly what they were doing and why, traditional and ecological building specialists, Calch Ty-Mawr Lime provided special training for them and throughout the project have continued to be a good source of lime materials and advice.
Calch Ty-Mawr Lime did its own survey on the property for Leonard, and from that was able to establish exactly how the building should be repaired. The project has covered so many elements of traditional building work, that Leonard, his tradesmen and labourers have all attended courses to familiarise themselves with some materials new to them and to ensure they are maintaining a high standard of work. Site visits were made by the Calch Ty-Mawr Lime experts as work progressed, just to make sure everything was being done correctly, and these visits continued from time-to-time until Leonard and his team became confident and profficient in their newly learned skills.
Chimney needed repair work
Leonard said: “From a business point of view, the restoration of a period property using period materials in a conservation based approach, will invariably cost more in terms of time and labour, than when using modern materials as, the schedule has to allow longer periods for natural lime based materials to 'set'.
"This particular client appreciates that careful restoration of a period property definitely costs more but will eventually pay for itself in terms of enhanced end value - no potential purchaser would want to buy a period property that had been unsuitably repaired with incorrect materials and techniques.”
The client has been exceptionally keen to participate in the restoration of his house so far, so Leonard has kept him up to date allowing him to follow the progress of all aspects of the work.
Work to date
Although work is nowhere near complete, this is what Leonard and his team has done so far:
1. Site clearance and and erection of scaffolding
2. Removal of old cement render and re-pointing with lime mortar
3. Roof has been stripped and replaced with a temporary covering
4. Old flagstones have been lifted and set aside for re-use. Limecrete floors have been laid
5. Oak heads to all windows have been replaced with locally sourced oak, cut to fit. The new oak heads involved rebuilding stone walls above windows
6. Chimneys have been rebuilt
7. Scratch coat with lime mortar and lime roughcast has been applied, followed by a shelter coat made up of limewash and stone dust, then to give it colour a pigmented lime wash was applied
8. Rotten roof timbers were replaced before re-roofing with salvaged welsh slate
9. New mullion windows made out of the same oak as the heads were made by a local joinery yard. They copied the original mullion window which was found in an old stone wall
10. Herakith boards were fixed to ceilings and lime plastered, and a lime plaster scratch coat was applied to all walls
11. Float coat applied to all walls.
History of the company
L. Wood Construction Ltd was formed in early 2007 by owner Leonard Wood, after he had worked in the construction industry for many years. He joined the FMB as soon as he was able to and now has five full-time employees and four sub-contractors.
So far, he has found his membership with the FMB to be very useful, especially as he has 24-hour access to information that a busy builder would not have the time to ring up about during the working day. He also says that his membership keeps him up to date with all the industry developments, as well as campaigning on major issues on behalf of builders across the UK – and believes in strength in numbers!
Work is scheduled to be completed by the end of July, so Master Builder will re-visit the restoration over the coming summer months as work progresses, and see how L.Wood Construction LTD is getting on.
Are you involved in a special project that other FMB members will find interesting? If so, please get in touch with the editor, Nicky Rogers at firstname.lastname@example.org
or telephone 01778 391128.