Monday, 11 August 2008

lake house works

At last the Lake house works have progressed to the point that the first stage of clearing up of junk and rot is over, and we are actually renovating. The poor house looks like a bomb's hit it and I wish we could at least give the facade a face-lift but of course that will have to be the last job! We've also decided that we'll leave the roof to later: we are working from the inside out. It will be slow progress (finances permitting) but it is VERY exciting.
The first renovation job we did was to install some strengthening rods that will hold the house together: the house was first built, of stone, at the time when the lake was created (see*below) and later added to. One of the later additions (probably around the end of 18th century judging by the roof timbers) were brick vaultings to the north half of the ground floor. These were not tied in very well, and as the house has no cellar, the pressure of the vaulting has been pulling the walls apart. The vaults are in extremely poor condition, with gaping holes, and currently supported by several props. So the strenghtening rods are installed to prevent any further movement. We'll now have to see whether it will be possible to save the vaulted ceilings - hope so. There were vaults in the cowsheds, too, but they were mostly fallen down and not really worth saving, but the ones in the house would be good to keep, fingers crossed.The next job is to create floors for where the downstairs bathroom, pantry and hall will be. (that's where we found the treasure - see earlier posts) These were spaces with just earth floors, but on the whole dry so the challenge is to create floors that suit today's bathrooms but let the house breathe and don't insult the overall feel with some horrible new tiles.

So the guys who are working there are creating floors that have breathing channels around the walls and consist of a sandwich earth-shingle, with unglazed brick-type tiles laid into a thin layer of specially mixed concrete that's got lots of lime and sand, on the top. All the piping for water etc is laid in the shingle layer. Hope it works!

We won't be able to go much further for a while, but what excitement to be going even the first positive step forward.

*the lake is a 138hectare man-made pond, created in the early 15th century by the local aristocrat for fish-farming, on the site of a boggy valley, by building a large retaining wall which is still there today. From 16th century it belonged to the Zlata Koruna monastery, a well-to-do cistercian monastery near Cesky Krumlov, later it was part of the Krumlov's aristocracy, the Rozmberk's, estate, later still by the Schwarzenberg estate. Now it's owned by the Czech Army, lying right on the border of its vast training area, Boletice. It is the highest-lying pond in Bohemia, at the altitude of 731m.


Thud said...

The breathing channels sound an interesting idea..let us know if they work.I may have found a house here in a redwood forest so i'm following your rural renovation closely.

salamander said...

Hi Thud
The channels' function (as you've obviously guessed) is to prevent moisture going into walls. You get a decent floor that can take the usual bathroom spills because it is concrete (if light) and tiles, but hopefully you prevent the usual problems with concrete floors and old walls, ie ground moisture having nowhere to escape except into walls. This way the floor will breathe a bit, but mostly the channels. I think it is a logical solution, I shall certainly report how it's serving its purpose. Thank you for your interest - and let us know where we can read about your own renovations work, we are most interested to exchange experiences and learn from them.