We just wanted to start off this post by saying THANK YOU to everyone who has donated to our GoFundMe page! You've helped us get a little bit closer to making our dream of restoring Jameswood a reality!
As we said before, we will be including the names of everyone who has donated to the project somewhere in our house!
If you are interested in supporting the Jameswood Restoration, you can visit
We are blown away by the incredibly kind messages of support we receive from all over the world. Thank you SO much.
To catch up on the progress we had made before May, you can check out progress report #1 and #2 here!
PROGRESS REPORT #3: May - June, 2019
Last time I posted, we had just gotten the hang of putting up scaffolding, and were about to start to making our way around the building with it.
But first, we had to move the caravan. It was at the front of the house, which wasn't ideal for traffic noise, privacy and safety (it was sitting in front of our partially collapsed wall!), but it would also get in the way of the scaffolding braces.
Our neighbour has a 4 by 4 pickup truck, and he kindly offered to lend a hand. He moved the caravan from our original driveway, around to the new driveway we had recently made for receiving scaffolding.
Our goal was to get the caravan up to the top of the garden. We were hoping to wake up to views of horses grazing in the field behind our house. But the mud was slick, and the 4 by 4 couldn't get the caravan up the hill.
We came up with a solution! We tied a block and tackle to a large tree trunk, and, inch by inch, we managed to get the caravan to the top of the garden! (With lots of help from our friend Ben, and our neighbour!)
Now, I'm writing this post from my bed, while listening to birds twitter (instead of trucks roar) and enjoying a sunny view of the beautiful field and hills behind our house!
**I realised I don't have a photo of the view on my laptop! I'll post one later today! For now, I guess we'll all just have to imagine it!
Once the caravan was out of the way, we managed to get the scaffolding up! It went a fair bit faster than the first side of the house! We now have scaffolding right the way round the building, and were ready to start on the tough stuff!
I'll start by identifying the problems we were trying to tackle:
- the roof structure has given way, and was sunk in on itself
- the roof pushed out the front sandstone wall. We had partially collapsed portions of the wall to fix
- the bay window, having taken a lot of strain when the roof failed, 3 cracked stones that need replacing as well as a pushed out mullion, hanging on by a thread
The weight of the roof was still sitting on the front wall, and in order to make repairs to the sandstone, we would have to lift this load off the wall.
Our goal was to, somehow, lift the roof back to its original height, in order to do repairs to the front wall.
Cal had a plan. He was going to lift the roof using props - lots of props. (Prop: a metal pole used as temporary support or to keep something in position.)
The idea was set up two lines of props along the ground floor, and then another set of props directly above that, on the second floor. We would raise the props, bit by bit, evenly along the top floor, and the weight of the roof would be transferred and supported by the ground - slowly raising the roof.
I was a bit dubious about the whole thing, and after doing a concept check online, I could only find examples of this being done to garages and sheds. Not a whole house!
But what's the worst that could happen? We decided we'd give it a go.
We took all the slates off the roof, to remove as much weight as possible. We had a lot of help from friends for this: Cal and I would scrape off slates, pass them down to friends on the scaffolding, and they would send them down, bucket by bucket, to another friend below.
We then replaced the slates with a temporary plastic sheet, and although the roof isn't watertight, it is now leaking far less than it was before!
Cal set up a string line from one gable end to the other, as a guide to show us how high we would have to lift the roof. 19 cm. That's a lot.
We braced the front wall with scaffolding, fearing it would tumble as soon as the roof's weight was lifted. And then, bit by bit, we started to lift the roof.
It took a couple days, but we managed to lift it the whole way up with no major setbacks! I was AMAZED. This had seemed like an outlandish idea of Cal's, but he really pulled it off.
Next, we had to rebuild the compromised sections of front wall.
We started by numbering the stones with chalk, and taking lots of pictures, so that we could put the stones back in the correct order.
Then, we carefully took the stones out. (I say carefully, but one section tumbled as we tried taking it down. Luckily, none of the stones were broken!) We cleaned up the wall, and, relaid the stones using a natural hydraulic lime - the same stuff that would have originally been used as mortar for this wall.
I make this whole process sound easy, but in reality, it took a few tries for Cal to get the hang of laying stones. The first section of wall he completed ended up being taken down and redone (twice) after we saw how much better the other sections had turned out! But we got the job done!
Lastly, we had to fix the bay window.
This has been a worry of ours since the beginning of the project. When the caravan was out front, we used to wake up to the view of a dilapidated bay window, and wonder how on earth we were going to fix it.
We thought we might have to get a stone mason in for this job - but that sounded expensive!
We also thought we might have to take the whole bay window down and start again - a job that would be time consuming, involve a LOT of heavy lifting, and we weren't sure we would be able to make it look good in the end by ourselves.
We decided instead that we would try removing and replacing the broken stones while keeping the rest of the structure in place. This seemed risky - the stones were near the bottom of the window, and there was a LOT of delicate and expensive red sandstone that could come tumbling down if something went wrong.
We were about to play a giant, dangerous and high risk game of Jenga with our house!
We did lots of research on what sandstone our building was likely made from, and settled on Locharbriggs Red Sandstone. We measured 3 or 4 times, sent the cut list in, and a few weeks later, we had new pieces to replace our broken stones.
We braced the rest of the Bay Window with scaffolding, strong boys and props, and slowly but surely took the stones out, and managed to fit the new pieces in with a lot of help from our amazing neighbour.
The bay window now looks SPECTACULAR! (In my opinion at least!)
I am amazed that we were able to accomplish these tasks. They were some of the most worrisome problems with the building, but we got the job done!
In the weeks to come, our goal is to fix the roof's timber structure and re-slate the roof!
I'm looking forward to having a wind and watertight structure by the end of the summer, so that we can focus our attention on the timber frame inside the building!
Thank you again to everyone who has followed our adventure and for the incredible support you are all sending our way.
Claire and Cal
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