Old House Dilemmas
Unless you have a grand house, or live in the middle of nowhere, or even if both the above apply, surely your renovations must follow the vernacular style?
If we define the vernacular, which as far as I read it is the prevailing local architecture; concerned with the domestic and the functional rather than with public or grand architectural buildings; then if your house sits in a little street like the one above, you must follow it or frighten the neighbours.
Top left- is our street in Campagne, and a very good example.Our house is the three storey bit front right, stopping where the neighbour’s place drops to two storeys.
Every house on our street is rendered (as are most of the village houses) with the exception of JR’s beautiful stone fronted house opposite (nothing like having a hovel of a house right over the street from the prettiest village house in the village! so no pressure there…….)
Why are they rendered? because none are exactly in their original format or footprint. Each house has add-ons, with maybe the barn or the cave and other bits tacked on as and when it suited the family’s needs and budget.
With these buildings, stripping the outside walls would reveal an incoherent mix of finishes. So most of the houses are rendered for a more uniform look.
.Our place is more of a patchwork than most as it started off as animal shelters etc.
We have pretty old stone and river pebbles. We also have patches of assorted rubble and breeze blocks from 20thc works.
That’s not as tragic as it might sound to those fortunate enough to have an original pretty, consistent and decorative exposed stone frontage because, whatever shade you finish your render in, the sun takes the down the colour in wonderfully uneven, cloudy pigment patches over time.
A few of the village houses here have areas of stone exposed, like the above examples.
If we go back to JR’s house, top left , his stone is wonderfully weathered from centuries of exposure and protects what is now a completely gutted and rebuilt interior in a more contemporary style , with nods to the old.
Some houses were built to display their stone, some simply weren’t.
OK. Opinion Alert-If you opt to knock off render and reveal old stone that was once exposed to the elements, it is very, very hard to do so without damaging the hardened and weathered outer stone.
If you knock off render and expose stone that was never intended to be left bare, this can be counter-productive. You risk introducing spalling or even damp into what was a sound building.
I had a mid 18thc cottage in England. I pouted, whinged and browbeat(?) my ex husband into removing the cement render. He was really careful, starting with the large areas that were already coming away anyway ; it still messed up the bricks and we had to treat the exposed wall with a waterproof finish.
I have seen real harm done to the integrity of stone walls this way. I’m not saying don’t do it. I’m saying be careful. It’s not a DIY job.
There are suitable sympathetic renders around now that will let your house flex and breathe but stay watertight.