OVER 150 YEARS AGO, there was an English mason by the name of William James Veach. The Veitch family traveled from the Germanic section of the Holy Empire (Rome) to Britannia in around 1200AD.
James, father to George Henry Veitch (Veach), worked predominately around the north-eastern corner of England; having hailed from Cornwall.
George Henry Veitch arrived in the Hunter Valley region of NSW around 1850 from England. He was commissioned to come to Australia to work as a request from a relative that was working for the public sector in Parramatta at that time.
George, together with four of his sons, worked on several prominent stone buildings around Australia’s first city, Parramatta; St Patricks’ Cathedral, Parramatta Gaol & Orphanage (pictured above), and private residences in the surrounding streets.
G.H.Veitch Stone yard and Carpenter’s Shop at Parramatta Gaol/ Parramatta Orphanage, c.18505
When looking to restore any aging or dilapidated house or building, heritage or period home, there are several key factors that need to be considered when selecting the future project which should help keep costs down and ensure successful project turnaround.
As any building contractor will tell you, if it doesn’t have a good roof, think twice about buying it.
Roofing can be expensive with costs for complete replacement looking more like someone’s annual income–but this is not the only issue. If the structure has been exposed to weather, years without protection, then you would be right to assume that everything underneath will be more expensive to fix or replace.
A good roof protecting the soft masonry structure..
Also allows complete restoration without fear of future damage.
One of the major causes of building failure, foundations are integral for the protection of the buildings’ structure. Without good conditions below, the above suffers in return; leading to uneven floors, door frame misalignment, cracking of masonry walls, plaster and reinforced concrete slabs; the list goes on…
This is even more important for aging properties which have been constructed utilising older forms of building methodology, i.e.- Stone Ballast, Mass Brick Footing, &c.
At the time of construction, the site was ‘preloaded’, typically by stone or sand/aggregate to ensure compaction of the subfooting soil. This was also a naturally occurring bi-product of working stone onsite which, due to being made from hand-hewn stone, usually took years if not decades to complete. By the time the structure had commenced construction, the site would have seen several hundred or thousands of tonnes of preloading.
When selecting a project, get professional inspection and geotech arranged to ensure soil conditions. Also, keep an eye out for large trees in the vicinity of the building.
Lime Mortar has been used for over 6000 years. The pyramids of Giza are plastered with it. Castles throughout the world, buildings of all size and stature, all share one thing: lime mortar. Typically generated through the decomposition of seashells early on, the process of ‘slaking’ limestone by way of kiln/fire came about at a later stage.
As it was noted for it’s inherent abilities for adherence and flexibility, lime mortar has not only been used in stone building in order to bond stones together within the wall matrix but it also serves as an expansion joint; allowing for movement within the wall without destroying the stone itself. The following picture indicates natural deformation of a bluestone masonry wall where settlement or foundation failure has occurred to a minor degree.
With this inherent movement capability, lime mortar design is a key factor in the restoration, conservation and preservation of these buildings.
In relationship to mortar’s cementitious (cement/ oxide) component, lime, when used in traditional mortar mixes for laying and pointing stone, should always outweigh the amount of cement used.
Lime is still used in today’s concrete design as a plasticizer although chemical dispersants are becoming more predominate as they are more cost effective.