Request for Period Home ID & Advice from Architectural Buffs

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    • #710497

      Hello, Dia Dhruit!

      I am new to the forum, this is a great site by the way. I am a new owner of a period farmhouse in Leitrim, near Mohill. I’d like to ask the group about what they think the property is about, and also on some planned/needed restoration work.

      This house appeared on the 1860 Valuation Cancelled Land books, so we know it was at least from there. The door ways in the house, are 5’6″ high, I am 6 ft and have to duck every one. Love it.

      Below is a link to some pictures, please, if you would like, take a quick flip through the slide show to see what I am talking about..

      Some input I’d like if you want to help, and I appreciate it, is:

      1. What is everyone’s opinion on the proper architectural classification would one say this is, for further research? Anything anyone could tell me about this type of house, ie period constructed, ect? From this site’s forum, I have purchased Maurice Craig’s book, have not received it yet.

      2. Fixes: New PVC windows!! The scourge of Ireland, and the USA (thank goodness no one has started Vinyl siding over pebble dash in ireland yet) ..Cant stand them, need to go ASAP. I cringe everytime I touch them. Question is, what type of wood windows should I put in? (ie True divdided light Double hung , single hung, French Casement, 4X4, 6X4, ect,,,)

      3. The front entrance-way: tear it down?; and if so, put what type of correct period entrance portico or Stone surround in place?
      Or, short term, if I can’t tear it out, due to planning permissions, should I at least take the side door, move to the front of the entrance-way, put in a small window instead? If so, what to do with the top flat roof so it does not look so utilitarian?

      4. Shutters: I love real, working wood shutters that close with ironmongery. Yea or Nea? Were they a period correct adornment for this type of house? I actually would shutter the house up when I leave for 2-3 months in the bad weather season. If so, what type (rustic, paneled, ect)

      5. The pebble-dash exterior. Aside from the bright yellow paint, which needs to change at a minimum (I call it Lovely Leitrim Yellow since it seems to be all over the countryside there, some vendor must be making a killing on it). Should I take it off? I believe, that the house is a field stone/rubble wall construction, since the granary is of that construction from old pictures I have from the 60’s. Wondering the pros/cons/ success & failiure stories associated with this undertaking, if anyone has a view?

      6. The dining room old hearth. You’ll see an old cast iron surround and coal basket in one picture if the sitting room. I like that style. The dining room has an old hearth converted to a cast iron stove. Needs to go. Question is, is it correct/OK to install a similar reclaimed cast iron surround, or bring back the old hearth with iron mongery, put a coal basket with an iron smoke hood. I wont’ be cooking in it, just having a small turf.coal fire in the morning for breakfast, or evening dinner. Thoughts?

      7. the front courtyard wall that “wraps around” the front entrance. Needs to Go. Agree/disagree?

      Anything else? The slate roof is in OK condition, keeps everything dry, needs a little repair work and flashing work around the chimneys. Thanks for the thoughts, feel free to chime in anywhere you have an opinion… and anyone has any resources to reccommend, I’ll take their advice… thanks,


    • #806857

      Hi Tom

      Congratulations on your new house – this is my first time on archiseek too. Here’s my ‘two’pennth worth:

      1. I’d say the house wasn’t much before 1860’s – this is a traditional 2 storey farm house that went from this period to present day

      2. If it was me I’d go for a proper sash window (double hung in US) – even Munster Joinery (no laughing) are currently making some nice ones now in wood. As pvc windows go they’re not that bad – I’ve seen a lot worse !

      3. I’d leave porch ‘as is’ and re-roof it with more insulation in a ‘warm roof’ + zinc (if you have money) or Trocal to be a bit cheaper. The side door may be in this position due to wind direction ?

      4. Shutters: – not traditional but as you say would keep out elements when you’re not there – I think they’d look nice

      5. Current policy to increase performance of buildings is ‘outsulation’ where the external walls are insulated – you could rerender at same time – classic white or silver looks clean

      6. For efficiency you could go for a multi-fuel stove – what ever takes your fancy here.

      7. Taking it out would open it up more – is that a road around, if it is you’ll need some sort of separation – maybe too much trouble ?

      Consider taking down the rear extension and getting something more contemporary with a bit of glass to let the sun heat the house. You may want to readjust internally to make the layout more practical ? A bit of interior design wouldn’t go amiss

      Hope this helps, I’m sure others will have different view.

      Mark Stephens RIBA MRIAI (UK/Ireland Chartered Architect)

    • #806858

      Ah, they’re all out scouting for work 😉

      A beautiful, confident Irish farmhouse of the middle size, in pleasingly good condition. Congratulations on taking on such a project Tom!

      To all exterior appearances, the house is in extremely good order. Architecturally, it is a coherent piece of design of the classical tradition, and probably dates to the 1850s. The front porch was a later addition, though a relatively early one, possibly of the 1930s. It is characterful and useful, and helps tell the story of the building. It should be retained. The pebbledash finish is also likely to be an addition of the early 20th century, applied to unify the front porch and the rear extension with the rest of the house. If the pebbledash is of the same texture all of the way round, this will prove or disprove this.

      It is likely the house originally had the same smooth limewashed render finish of the garden wall. Again, the pebbledash has a certain appeal, if not perhaps to everyone’s taste. Its removal and/or covering over with something closer to the original finish (assuming the pebbledash is not original) may be worth considering in the context of boosting the energy rating of the house. Saying that, it is unlikely that such a synthetic product could improve the aesthetics, especially if plastic corner strips and similar proprietary muck is employed to the corners and reveals. Expert advice would also be required regarding its breathability on an old structure built of otherwise natural materials.

      The only architectural failing of the house are of course the hideous plastic windows. You are correct regarding replacement – these should be replaced with two-over-two timber sashes with curved ogee horns. However, on a slight note of caution, as the house supposedly dates to pre-1860, it is highly unlikely that two-over-two was the original design, with such sheet glass only barely affordable in the larger cities of the 1850s, and not common until the 1870s in rural areas. Assuming the PVC frames replaced two-over-twos, then these probably dated to the alterations which took place in the early 20th century, replacing original six-over-sixes. Nonetheless, new two-over-twos would work best in terms of simplicity and elegance, be easier to maintain, afford better views to outside, and would be cheaper too. Pictured below is precisely the design I would envisage.

      The possibility of double-glazing using extremely thin glass units also arises (though I remain to be convinced of their ability to closely match original detailing). Tailor-made secondary glazing may be a better option. I wouldn’t give Munster Joinery the time of day going by their clunkily detailed product range (when you cannot even get simple contemporary windows right, you know you’re doing something wrong). I presume by shutters, you refer to internal ones? These possibly would not have been original on such a modest house, but it would be well worth considering installing them alright if you have the space to do so. They’re also thermally efficient of course and great for security.

      There is absolutely no question but the front wall should be retained. It forms an integral part of the setting of the house, nestling it into the landscape, and provides a sturdy demarcation of the boundary. It also creates a pretty enclosed garden. Its historic construction and finish is especially of note, especially in the context of the altered house. It is critical that this is retained. The gate piers are definitely later, but again fit in quite well (and note how the wall abuts the house exactly in alignment with the window – how considered).

      Stunning original slate roof – the best feature of the house. Retain, retain!

      It looks like your dining room fireplace was always open, and really should remain as such. In any event, it affords you the opportunity to install an attractive free-standing wood or pellet boiler, which would be significantly more efficient than an open fireplace. The surround in the other room looks rather grand, suggesting it just might not be original, but it looks convincing.

      Hope that’s of some help!

    • #806859

      To Mark and Graham;

      Thank you both for the viewpoints, I hope there are others as well, I learn from every post, and I most likely will need an architect to spec out, and consult with help out once I sort out the upgrade to the septic system.

      -I need interior restoration consultation as well, as I am a bit of a DIY. My guidelines are : no plastic, chrome plating, PVC, particle board, printed tiles, pretty much what you find in your local Builder’s supply. I’ll purchase paint and tools there. I want to step back in time -1925 or before – quality wise. Old school. I’d rather reclaim and restore, put the time in elbow grease, yes not overpaying is always the goal but my rule is do it right the first time, or you just wind up hating it 2 days later. .That’s why I am not too keen on that front entranceway- I’d like to restore back using reclaimed material, traditional building materials and methods. although I do see the merits of conservation – if it was done correctly the first time, otherwise time to fix it as it should have been, or restore to what would have most likely been original using original architectural references.

      I know everyone is big on thermal efficiency but I’d rather have correct period and less efficiency than new modern and high efficiency.

      If I had to do my career over again I would be a restoration/conservation architect like you guys, I am only attracted to things that can’t be built anymore, which is why I picked this house over the 1000s of other “new build” homes popping up all around. It was not even close. I am sure I am preaching to the choir, but what is happening to your beautiful countryside with all these “cookie cutter” townhomes clustered on cul-de-sacs in the middle of austere pastureland. please dont reply to that- that was just rhetorical and this thread will go off kilter quick- but I think I have found some kindred souls on this site, cant wait to read more.

      Slan! TK

    • #806860

      For you general interes a quick gander through this might be useful.

      Your intentions are very admirable, however, I think it is a dangerous assumption that older or “original” is necessarily better, for example the entrance porch, although later, is a ubiqutous elememt of that type of structure, and was, in all liklehood, put in place to solve a problem with the “original” design, and its merits should not be cast away for the sake of what is perceived to be original. The aim of restoration or conservation is not to reurn it to an ideal condition as it would have been 6 months after construction, it is not a still frame, a better way to think of it is as a story. The building has a history of alterations, additions, cracks and blemishes which deserves to be told. An alteration made in the 90s is potentially of equal signifance to the original strucure, and should be judged on merit and not age….. obviously the pvc windows have no merit, and should be stripped out a.s.a.p.
      It follows then that any alterations that you are about to make, should not masqurade as original features, but rather find a contemporary expression, respectful to the original fabric, but ledgible and disitinct.

      Here is one that I think is a particularly good exmple the above, albeit in a different context. [the 6th thumbnail at the bottom, “conservation of end of terrace georgian house, dublin”, was at their AAI lecture recently]

    • #806861

      Some really interesting points here. Fair play to ye lads. Where’s me notebook.

    • #806862

      Would I be correct in saying that there are two “schools” of thought when it comes to the best practice for restoring old buildings? One is to avoid reproduction as much as possible and make the changes “transparent” – for example by being distinctively modern; this seems to be currently the fashion in Ireland and the UK (certainly if the views Kevin McCloud espouses in his TV programs are representative). Widely in Asia and commonly on the continent, they seem to strive to make restoration work “invisible” to the extent that are happy to replace significant bits of (or whole) buildings with high-quality well-crafted historically accurate reproductions where it is felt the original fabric is too frail or whatever (admittedly destroying layers of history in the process). tkelly5 might at heart believe in a variant of the latter philosophy in a country where the former is the prevailing view.

    • #806863

      You’d be broadly correct. I think it’s the Granada Convention that recommends not making modern interventions ‘invisible’. At a guess, this is an extension of contemporary society’s addiction to ‘honesty’ and, more particularly, ‘authenticity’. My gut feeling is that this is a phase that will pass, though possibly not for a generation or two.

    • #806864

      The problem with a lot of these conventions is that they work well when applied to a middle eastern despot planning embelishments to his ziggurat, but at the level of an extended cottage in Leitrim, policies with a little more cop-on could be useful.

      How many times have we looked at buildings on these threads and had great fun unpicking the layers, layers that very often were subtle and didn’t feel the need to scream out their ‘contemporary’ authenticity.

    • #806865

      As i am a Conservation contractor i believe that Uvalues should be incorporated into any conservation project

    • #806866

      “You’d be broadly correct. I think it’s the Granada Convention that recommends not making modern interventions ‘invisible’. At a guess, this is an extension of contemporary society’s addiction to ‘honesty’ and, more particularly, ‘authenticity’. My gut feeling is that this is a phase that will pass, though possibly not for a generation or two.”

      You seem to be underestimating centuries of renaissance alterations to gothic structures, victorian on georgian, etc, I would contend that it is not a whim of the modern world nor a phase that will pass.
      The original point of the matter was simply not to undervalue later or even modern interventions.

    • #806867

      you’re becoming very rational s_s, . . . . what’s happened to you?

    • #806868

      @spoil_sport wrote:

      You seem to be underestimating centuries of renaissance alterations to gothic structures, victorian on georgian, etc, I would contend that it is not a whim of the modern world nor a phase that will pass.
      The original point of the matter was simply not to undervalue later or even modern interventions.

      I’m not suggesting undervaluing anything. My post was intended simply as a response to jimg’s post; it was nothing to do with ‘the original point of the matter’.

      And I think you’ve misunderstood me. You mention alteration when jimg’s question was about restoration. They’re not the same thing. Every age has re-made earlier buildings according to its own tastes- this is alteration. Restoration is just that- an effort to restore a building.

      Admittedly, I was slightly uncertain about jimg’s question – is he talking about conservation philosophy, or is he talking about doing up an old house? – which is why I said ‘broadly’. (I know I don’t need to tell you the differences between conservation, restoration, refurbishment, reconstruction, preservation, etc.)

      gunter’s first paragraph nailed the (need for a) distinction between these two aspects of the same question.

    • #806869

      @gunter wrote:

      you’re becoming very rational s_s, . . . . what’s happened to you?

      They’re enjoying the satisfaction of having been proven right on the NCC.

    • #806870


      Yes, this is something I’ve been thinking about, and would tend to agree that the above tenet of Venice is not something that will stand the test of time – or perhaps more specifically, is something that is simply not applicable to every structure in the first place. Restoring a ring fort or early towerhouse is a whole different kettle of fish to a comparatively modern 18th or 19th century townhouse or farmhouse, which still are as relevant and as usable by civilisation today as when they were first built. Thus, the latter’s original appearance, and the desirability thereof, holds much greater weight than that of the remnants of our ancient past, which are more important as historical evidence than as intact structural or architectural entities. It is the extent of that weight that shall no doubt remain contentious.

      Venice is somewhat more flexible than is often credited, however. Article 11 deliberately states: “The valid contributions of all periods to the building of a monument must be respected, since unity of style is not the aim of a restoration.” (emphasis added). Again, this injects subjectivity into cordial proceedings like a cat tossed into a bird sanctuary, but is does allow a freer rein to alter or remove later additions where it is deemed appropriate.

      Personally, I think the whole disambiguation trend is something that will pass. Sheets of glass and steel members et al are not particularly gratifying in the longer term, are unimaginative, and ultimately a cop-out plonked ‘sensitively’ alongside older structures. Of course this is not always the case, but the formula’s near-blind application to every project going (cough, Hugh Lane) as a ‘considerate’ solution, gets as tiresome to observe as it is disrespectful to the individuality of context.

      Tom, I get the impression from what you say that the removal of the porch will improve the architectural character of the house, possibly through the reinstatement of a carved doorcase or similar. Aside from the simple porch extension being both useful and very typical of this house type, the reality is that to return this part of the house to its original form would simply involve the insertion of a plain, unadorned, rectangular ope and a simple timber entrance door, perhaps with a small glazed overlight. That’s it. There’d be no elaborate stone carving, steps or railings to spice things up a bit, as this was generally common only with much larger houses, or farmhouses of an earlier period. So if the charm of the porch doesn’t persuade you to retain it, hopefully that will!

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