Northern Ireland

Ardress House: 18th Century farmhouse to get £120k facelift

Ardress House
Image caption To preserve the building, the cement plaster is being removed and replaced with a more traditional finish

An 18th Century farmhouse owned by the National Trust is getting a £120,000 facelift to stop it sweating.

Ardress House near Portadown in County Armagh was built in the 1700s and developed over the years into one of the finest examples of a gentleman's farmhouse on the island of Ireland.

But in the 1960s a cement render was put on the building that stopped it breathing and it started to sweat.

Trapped moisture over the decades since had begun to cause damage inside.

It was left susceptible to damp, cracking and flaking paint.

Image caption Patience is the name of the game in the conservation operation, according to Ivor Condy

Now, in order to preserve the building, the trust has removed the cement plaster and is replacing it with a more traditional finish.

The lime-based render, which is less dense, will allow the building to breathe and in time should sort out the damp.

"What happened in the mid-1900s was there was a departure from traditional building methods," said Edward Mason of the National Trust.

"What we've discovered over the last 20 to 30 years is damp that is starting to grow in parts of the structure of the house."

Image caption The new lime-based render will allow the building to breathe and in time should sort out damp

A team of specialist plasterers is working on the job that is expected to take about a year to complete.

Cracking

Ivor Condy, who is in charge of the operation, says lime render is "challenging" to work with.

It dries quickly and needs a lot of preparation to prevent cracking. In the worst case scenario it can just fall off the wall.

"You have to live with it when you start the job, you can't go away and leave it," he added.

Image caption About 8,000 people a year visit Ardress House, near Portadown in County Armagh

"Generally when you speak to normal plasterers about lime render, they'll run a mile. They're just not used to it.

"It's like everything involved in conservation work, it takes a lot of patience."

About 8,000 people a year visit Ardress House.

When the work is finished it won't look a lot different, but the building will feel a whole lot better.