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Callander House Stable Block, Falkirk

Callander House Stable Block, Falkirk

Interim repairs to roof, rainwater goods and associated elements

Overview

This case study is an example of an instance where works to a building or structure that is not in use were deemed necessary to preserve it for the future. Reactive works, such as these, can be termed interim or temporary, or even ‘emergency repairs’ depending on how critical the condition of the building is. Interim works are suitable where only modest funds are available, where the building or structure is in a particularly fragile state or else where there is on-going discussion as to the most appropriate long term solution.

Early intervention, even where this is temporary, is preferable to continued decay whilst awaiting a more comprehensive repair scheme. This case study describes works of an interim nature on a structure of some historical importance, which provides clear benefits even though the longer term future of the building remains uncertain.

The project involved a rapid assessment process and delivery on site, without compromising the principles of historic building conservation. The project demonstrates that the traditional construction of a building should not be perceived as an impediment to practical building conservation, in the broadest sense of physically safeguarding the historic environment for the future.

Approach

The interim works undertaken on Callander House Stable Block included repairs to a decayed section of roof, reinstatement of rainwater goods, removal of vegetation and securing of openings.

Constructed in 1828, the stable block is a two storey, rectangular plan building. The walls are mainly of coursed and squared rubble sandstone masonry with a pitched slate roof. The building is Category B listed and is on the Buildings at Risk Register (link).

Interim works have been implemented with the aim of making the building wind and water tight and are likely to have a lifespan of five to ten years. However, had these repairs not been carried out it is likely that within a short space of time, part of the building would have lost its roof, suffered continued masonry decay and become prey to vandalism and even arson. All of this would have made future repairs much more difficult and costly.

 

Rainwater goods

Many gutters and downpipes were blocked, cracked or missing, allowing a large amount of water to saturate the building fabric. Rainwater goods at many points throughout the building had been lost or were becoming detached. Their reinstatement was a priority to prevent the continued saturation of the masonry. Installing plastic rainwater goods will make a substantial contribution to ensuring that further decay to the building fabric is avoided, but is a temporary solution and more permanent repairs will be required in the longer term in materials which are more appropriate to a building of this type, e.g. cast iron.

 

Building openings

Almost all glazing had been lost, with windows either boarded up or unsecured, leaving the building vulnerable to infestation by birds and vandalism. This was resolved by fitting new secure boards to all openings, with small gaps at the sides to allow ventilation.

 

Roof repairs

A large area of the roof had lost its slates, leading to extensive rot in the timber structure beneath, and partial collapse. Following an assessment it was identified that twelve of the roof trusses had either cracked or suffered significant enough section loss to require replacement. Due to the extent of water penetration through the damaged roof covering, repair of the trusses by scarfing or other methods which would have retained some of the existing timber were not viable. New roof trusses were therefore sourced and installed.

The sarking board had also suffered significant decay from saturation due to a loss of roof covering. The wall plate was likewise entirely decayed in several places.

Slates which were in good condition, or damaged larger sizes that could be re-dressed, were retained for reuse in a subsequent phase of more formal repair. For the interim repair, a temporary felt roof was added, to make the building wind and water tight. These interim repairs will allow a full and proper repair programme to take place in the future, without extensive removal or replacement of interim measures.

A chimney on one elevation had suffered severe stone decay leaving it in an unsafe condition, and was therefore removed. Undamaged stones were retained for use in a later, more comprehensive repair programme.

Performance

The building is Category B Listed, and while repair and maintenance does not generally require Listed Building Consent (LBC) the nature of the repairs, the materials used and the scale of the work meant that such consent was necessary. As a condition for the granting of LBC it was stated that the UPVC rainwater goods which were installed would be replaced by cast iron alternatives within three years. The table below displays the provisional costs of the works; the final contract sum for the project has yet to be confirmed.

Provisional cost of interim works (£)

Prelims

(includes all contractors’ overheads, plant / equipment / scaffolding / storage / welfare etc.)

4,000

Demolition and Down-takings

(includes removal of chimney and vegetation / tree branches)

1,600

Woodwork

(includes all works to roof, removal / boarding of roof lights and boarding of windows)

9,310

Roofing

(includes removal of existing slates, new felt and new slates)

726

Plumber work

(includes all works to rainwater installations)

5,000

Total

20,636

Lessons

Although there are long term plans to repair the stable block and bring it into use as a centre for the Falkirk Archives, the funding for this work has not yet been secured and it is likely to be some time before this happens. Given the deteriorating condition of the building, Historic Scotland, in partnership with Falkirk Council, felt it would be appropriate to embark upon a program of interim repairs to minimise further decay of the structure, which will in turn help to make a new use viable.

While these works would be valuable in themselves, the project would also demonstrate the principle of emergency or interim works to a wider audience. Every pound which has been spent on these interim repairs is likely to be repaid many times over in savings when it comes to implementing the longer term repair and adaptation which will be needed to bring the building back into use.

It should be noted that while the works are described as interim, they have included some works (e.g. to the roof) that will not inhibit future repair work. Equivalent works using more temporary structural components would not have cost significantly less, and would not have suited a subsequent phase of work.

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