Yew Tree Cottage and Lemon Meadow are two adjoining cottages nestled down a quiet country lane in West Sussex. Dating back to the 16th Century, the two-storey timber frame building is faced with red brick on the ground floor, with fishscale tiles above and a hipped tile roof.
While the two separate cottages are independently owned, both cottages required extensive restoration works, including the replacement of the entire timber roof structure, a new party wall firebreak between the two properties and further extensive internal and external refurbishment works.
Luckily, Yewtree Cottage is owned by local builder and building restoration expert Steve Bailey, who purchased the building in 2018.
Following consultation with the local Conservation & Heritage Officer and having sought Listed Planning Approval for both buildings, restoration works got underway in 2019.
Steve was determined to restore both properties to the highest of standards, and this is evident throughout the entire build process, with an exceptional attention to detail that would impress even the most austere Conservation Officer.
One particular area of the project where Steve’s craftsmanship has impressed, is in the installation of a new cast iron rainwater system.
Steve opted for a traditional cast iron guttering system, purchased from Metal & Glass Ltd. Although the original half round guttering was smaller it was not able to cope with the heavier downpours which are more common today. As such, Steve decided that whilst he would retain the original profile shape, he would use this opportunity to increase the size to 6” (150mm) to offer a more robust defence against the elements. The guttering was served by a number of 3” (75mm) round rainwater pipes, each offering a 3 litres per second discharge rate. In addition to the main gutter and pipe profiles, Steve was able to utilise a wide selection of fittings such as angles, bends and drops to ensure that the new cast iron system, not only looked right but functioned effectively.
As much of the original system had perished and was removed during the roofing works, Steve faced a major challenge in that there was no starting point for the new cast iron. Setting the level and making sure the fall and flow of the guttering was correct was something that could only be overcome using all his years of experience and knowledge.
Furthermore, and typical of a building of its age, none of the house walls are straight. Therefore, perhaps an even greater challenge was how to get the guttering to follow the curve of the roof and walls.
To overcome this Steve built an oak facia with individually made support soffit braces of varying thickness, which were spaced out to allow the cast iron gutter brackets to be attached. He also constructed support brackets for the downpipes to exactly match the soffit overhang. While this proved to be a painstaking process, it ensured a flush, stylish appearance.
Steve’s attention to detail extended beyond simply ensuring everything was neat and level. To achieve the high level of finish that he was looking for, the oak support braces for the soffit and downpipe supports were given a bevelled edging – providing a stunning finishing touch.
Another example of Steve’s high-quality detailing was to ensure that the exposed internal timberwork, to which the fixing bolts for the guttering were attached, looked tidy. As such he opted to drill the fixing holes from the inside out so that the bolt heads were internal facing. Undertaking this in such a way required absolute precision to ensure that the brackets and their fixing holes aligned exactly.
It is these small, yet highly technical details, which has impressed the Conservation Officer at every stage and is testament to the skill and craftsmanship of Steve Bailey and his talented team. The end result – a beautifully restored 16th Century home with a skilfully installed, stunning cast iron rainwater system.
There is no doubt that replacing a cast iron rainwater system on traditional properties such as these, can present significant challenges. Too often original cast iron rainwater systems are replaced by inappropriate modern materials because of the effort required to get the job done right. However, by combining the right choice of material along with a competent and skilled contractor, buildings such as Yew Tree Cottage and Lemon Meadow can not only retain a traditional appearance but will have a rainwater system that will protect the structure well into the next century.
For more information visit www.metalandglass.co.uk