Conservation area external refurbishment

The Problem

The building, on a very busy junction in Oxford, was in need of major refurbishment, both the front and rear of the property and from the top down to street level.

At roof level there was cracking to the brick joints which suggested movement. The oak and metal framed windows at the top level were in a very sorry state, with substantial rot to the oak and rust corrosion to the metal frames evident. As a result of the deterioration to the windows there was wind and water ingress to the building. The main picture windows were in a very poor condition and had not been tended to for a long time. The stone cornices were in poor repair and needed to be protected. The shop front needed freshening up as it had suffered over the years with peeling paint and signs of timber rot.

Rear staircases were in a shabby state and were unsafe; fire signage was missing along with other items of ironmongery. The emergency lighting to the rear staircase was not compliant under current regulations.

All works had to be carried out subject to conservation area requirements.

FPM’s Solution

FPM tendered for the works and was awarded the contract. To carry out the complete overhaul of the premises, works were broken down on each section of the building and a programme agreed with the client. Works included: roof brickwork; dormer and picture windows; lead work to stone ledges; front elevation decorations; rear staircase works; fire signage and emergency lighting.

The Conservation Office was given an initial outline of the works and meetings were held during the course of the refurbishment to ensure all conservation requirements were met.

The Full Story

Once a timetable had been agreed and the conservation office was happy with the proposed works, scaffold had to be erected around the whole facade before works could commence. The building was fully operational so signage was displayed to ensure customers were aware that trading was continuing whilst works were underway. Following strict health and safety guidelines was essential.

At roof level the walls were assessed and strengthened. The affected areas were raked out and helibars inserted using an helifix product (www.helifix.co.uk/products/remedial-products/helibar/). Split and spalled bricks were removed split and replaced with new. Due to the nature of the works, conservation rules meant that the bricks and mortar used had to be in keeping with the existing product.

The dormer windows were completely overhauled by removing all metal frames and taking them off site where they were totally stripped of all paint, straightened and brought back to their original condition. Once the metalworkers had reconditioned the frames and opening casements, the next stage was to paint them black. This was carried out in workshop conditions with the paint being applied and allowed to harden. The whole process from removal to installation took eight weeks. The oak timber was cut out or removed completely and replaced with oak. Conservation would not allow wood fillers; therefore the workmanship had to be very precise.

The original picture windows had been manufactured in Glasgow and shipped down especially for William Baker, the original owner of the building. Now a complete overhaul was required. The paint was stripped back to bare metal across all sills, these were then primed, undercoated and glossed.

In places the stone ledges / cornices were cloaked in lead. Where lead in other areas had deteriorated this was stripped back and new lead installed or patches were welded over splits as appropriate.

The shop front underwent a complete refurbishment and branding exercise.

The steel escape staircase was overhauled and made safe and accessible. New fire signage was supplied and installed. The emergency lighting was brought up to the current regulation.

All works to the rear staircase, fire signage and emergency lighting were carried out in such a manner that all now comply to Building Regulations 2010 Part B Fire Regulations and Part M Volume 2 Buildings other than dwellings.

The building was fully operational whilst works were carried out so the safety of customers and staff was a major priority. All conservation stipulations were met and in some cases exceeded.

The building now stands magnificently restored to a high standard of which William Baker would approve – we believe!