The Rewards of Restoration: Expert Advice from R Molding & Co

Tim Molding of R Molding & Co Traditional Builders and Craftsmen shares his expert insight on how to achieve a good restoration.

Since 1798, R Molding & Co have used traditional craftsmanship and materials to create some of Britain’s finest homes – and they’ve been included in Country Life’s Top 100 list of Britain’s finest builders and craftsmen. Brittany.

With increasing emphasis on bringing old homes and farm buildings into the 21st century, Tim Moulding, the eighth generation of his family to run this truly unique business, is working with his team to bring two centuries of experience to to create homes with a sensitivity to both past and present. He tells Country Life’s Giles Kime the secret to doing it right.

In your opinion, what are the advantages of a sensitive restoration?

Restoring a building is a hugely satisfying process of breathing new life into a building that may be fragile, disused, or in danger – and in some cases, all three. With an experienced builder working alongside the right experts, it is possible to create a unique home with history and character that also offers all the comforts of a modern, luxurious lifestyle with the least possible impact on the environment. environment.

What is also exciting is that this is a project that will not only benefit the client but also future generations with the ultimate sustainable building.

Is there a secret ingredient?

It’s no secret that craftsmanship, materials and design are critical to a successful project. What is often overlooked, however, is how these elements are managed so that they complement each other, creating the best possible outcome. The best analogy is a brilliant, world-class orchestra; you can have the best musicians but only a good conductor will make the magic happen.

Similarly, a good builder or “main contractor” will bring all the many different elements together in a timely progression of activity. The right builder will have the knowledge, experience and managerial capacity to coordinate and manage the range of skills required.

How does a client decide what the goals are?

It is essential to start with a catering expectation and how the costs will relate to the budget. The extent of repair and restoration can be largely subjective. There is a huge difference between a ‘lightweight’ restoration and a full, ‘no stone unpadded’ approach and with the help of the right team, a client can find a path that suits both the future of the building and the budget. A good example is the existing coatings on a roof.

The tiles can well prevent rain from entering for a decade or more in their current state. However, in order to improve the thermal value of the house, it may be necessary to cover it. Doing so may expose otherwise invisible areas of structural decay.

While this may seem like a budget bump, the work is important to the longer-term use of the building. Too often, an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” simply delays the inevitable and also puts expensive decor and interiors at risk. Why would you invest a lot of money inside when the outer shell requires a significant investment and lets rain in? There is no point in buying an expensive raincoat if it does not have a hood.

It is always important to define the scope of the work master plan at an early stage against which a budget cost plan can be applied. This will inevitably help guide decision-making more effectively. While a restoration is likely to significantly exceed any capital value of the property, it is important to consider both its short-term practical and emotional benefits and its long-term value.

Others?

Yes, a spirit of collaboration and transparency that binds the client, the builder and the design team who all share the same ambitions for the project and whose vision is not clouded by a commercial approach. The only way to be assured of financial transparency is if there is an audit process carried out by an independent cost consultant.

How do you define sensitive restoration?

The goal of a sensitive restoration is to achieve a building that is filled with everything necessary to meet 21st century demands, but that also retains a sense of historic character, significance and provenance. The delicate balance between conservation and restoration is always an interesting debate. .

Indeed, the art of sensitive restoration is, by definition, conservation. While purists would prefer conservation wherever possible, the balance must be struck with the successful function of modern living.

What is the ideal relationship between builder and architect?

It is important that there is good communication and good understanding. A transparent cost collection and auditing process will underpin a relationship based on trust rather than contractual terms alone. It should also include a collaborative approach to designing solutions and solving problems. A good relationship between these two key roles will pay long-term project dividends and lead to better results for everyone.

When should the builder be engaged?

It is essential to have a builder with extensive catering experience on board during the preconstruction stage of the project. This early-stage collaboration is extremely important for the success of a sensitive restoration project. This is why, in addition to directing Moulures, I also act as an advisor on a wide range of projects, as well as ours. It’s called Country House Building Consultants (01722 742228, countryhousebuildingconsultants.co.uk).

Who are the other key players in a collaborative team?

A good builder must be at the heart of a wide range of specialists and balance their advice, from architectural and interior design to quantity surveyor cost estimates. Including (of course) the evaluation of the most important ecologist of all possibility

impacts on protected species. In between there is the professional input of a mechanical and electrical designer, a structural engineer and an interior designer whose input will ensure that there is just the right balance between building requirements. responsible catering and the requirements of the 21st century.

What are the most common issues that need to be resolved?

The obvious example is wet; the historic fabric will always contain an element of inherent moisture. Breathable materials on the inside and outside face of a wall will handle this. However, new heating systems can draw moisture through the wall and damage decorative finishes. Another is the necessary repair of an eroded section of the exterior sculpted masonry.

To some it would seem that the pragmatic solution is to cut out this section and replace it with a section of freshly carved stone, using a very similar material, which matches the profile and detailing of the adjacent masonry. The conservation approach would be to stabilize it with some form of lime-based shelter layer. Although this section now sits very awkwardly against its less weathered neighbour, this original component of the building is now preserved.

How to reconcile the requirements of sensitive restoration with modernization?

Care must be taken to avoid the term modernization. The purist approach is arguably the right method for a historic landmark like a church, but may not be appropriate for a modern family home. There are often necessary compromises to be made when restoring a historic building. When replacing services such as bathroom and kitchen heating, it is often the work of the services that tips the balance between a light restoration project and a full restoration. Renewal of services can be very invasive, as it requires floorboards

to lift and walls to drive down. However, this exercise provides an opportunity to expose floor voids, clean up centuries of detritus, including old pipes and cables allowing repairs to be made, adding insulation and carefully distributing the new installation out of sight and noise. This creates an opportunity to build back better.

The cost difference between these approaches is significant. It is therefore crucial to think about the right strategy from the start of the project. While modern intervention methods can be applied to bring a significant improvement to the enjoyment of a building, even after restoration, the very envelope and fabric of the building remains many centuries old and therefore does not always meet standards and today’s high expectations, especially thermals. conductivity; noise transfer; residual moisture. Alterations to living spaces can have detrimental effects on the historic fabric of the building. Modern expectations of living with humidity, cold and drafts are often uncompromising.

Is sensitive restoration a personal as well as a professional interest?

Yes, it sticks with you and it’s so interesting – and so satisfying – that it takes up my free time that I don’t spend on cricket and walking.


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