Masonry Repair Near Norwich?
Not On Your Life!

The Inspector Calls!

Masonry Repair

In my humble opinion masonry repair was necessary.The bulldozer had given the wattle and daub a good shaking up but it could be repaired.

Bulging Wall Problem.

The clay lump behind the brickwork was seriously disturbed and we had to find a way of stabilizing the wall.

The bulging wall is due to clay on the internal wall falling between the internal and external walls and forcing the brickwork out.

Can you see the gaps where the render has fallen out?

The construction inspector didn't want a
masonry repair.

He wanted the wall down and rebuilt

And who can blame him. But I wanted it to stay. I did explain we are were not in the business of building something new when there is a good chance of using masonry repair techniques.

He compromised by recommending a local structural engineer from Attleborough to have a look. And would not be happy with anything less.

The engineer and I met on site and much to my surprise he was very sympathetic to my point of view. 

Within days the engineer had sent me a workable solution.

Using 30 stainless steel ties it was possible to tie the brick wall into the timber frame and hold the wall in position without causing any more disturbances to the clay.

I was happy because I kept the wall and I was still on good terms with the building inspector.

How It's Done?

A hole is drilled through the brick skin on the outside and through the timber frame behind it. The drilled hole is recessed by about 1/2" both outside and inside.

A stainless steel bolt is then passed through and fixed to the frame with a stainless steel nut. Any excess thread is cut off.

Stainless steel is a good material because it doesn't rust.

By filling the holes you create an invisible and permanent repair both inside and outside.

This process had to be repeated for all the ties - spacing them equally over the more vunerable part of the gable end wall.

Each hole was carefully filled with mortar - darkened to match the existing mortar.

What Does It Look Like Now.

You can see that the general pointing of the wall is far more obvious than the "invisible" 30 odd tie holes.

You don't have to look far for examples of this type of masonry repair in and around Norwich.

A farmer friend of mine showed me how he tied this clay lump wall. The arrangement is the same on the other side.

The farm insurer has seen examples of cows getting crushed to death under unstable walls like this.

How Were The Walls Made?

Coming back to my house. The clay in the walls was probably dug from the pond or “pit” behind the house. The infilling is wattle and daub - hazel sticks, or “wattle” fixed upright between the timber frame and covered with clay or “daub”.

Old Wall

New Wall

Partly Finished Masonry Repair

By the way Wattlefield is also the name of a nearby village and suggests that wattle was grown here on a large scale to support the local "building projects".

The building had a thatched overhanging roof at one time which gave the walls added protection. So when a new smaller roof was put on a brick skin was probably built at the same time to maintain that protection.

The builders - from Norwich - who helped to renovate this house really enjoyed using the clay, straw, and sand mixture. Lime putty and sand made the perfect plaster to finish with.

Much of the clay had to be replaced as well as some of the crumbly oak timber frame.

It could be daunting to live in such a basic simple house like this couldn’t it?

In Complete Contrast

The family in the picture lived through a difficult if not exciting time.

The picture shows a clay lump or cob house in Hapton and it was built from the clay probably taken from where our pond is now. Our neighbour calls it the pit.

The walls were probably lime washed originally and kept dry with an overhanging thatch roof. But the roof was not maintained properly.

I caught up with one of the brothers when he was quite elderly [Being held by his mother in the photo]. He explained one stormy night how the roof collapsed. The family took up their belongings walked across what is now my garden and moved into the newly built house next door.

Hugh Lander in The House Restorers Guide says about wall renovations:

“ Cob and its cousins … are fiendishly difficult materials to repair, while relatively straightforward to build. Some experiments have been made in modern cob building, but it is not a method which readily commends itself to local authority building inspectors”.

From Masonry Repair To Old House Renovation

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