The Restoration



By the time the quantity surveyor was using the word "prioritise", things were looking bleak, prior to this he had failed to get listed building consent 3 times, what should have been passed in December 2005 was not actually passed until July 2006. The initial scafolding phase of £30,000 for the first 6 months was expired and now costing £1500 a week plus vat, we we paying vat despite that Richmond Planning department had stated he should apply for vat exemption, but he did not, I asked him to support the main chimney stack, he ignored me, he also ignored a surveyor who inspected it, he ignored it again when it moved and was now leaning against the scaffold's tin roof.... it predictably collapsed. He wasted thousands cleaning low value items in the cellar contaminated with asbestos released by the fire engines water. The team he awarded the contract to was just 3 men, their progress was slow in fact 3 times slower than a team of 10 men, 5 times slower than a team of 15, and in the mean time the scaffolding was eating into to the remianing allocated funds.

Ann now 79 years old, widowed two weeks before the fire, her eldest son was becoming seriously ill. She was handed back a house with new roof but inside was a gutted shell.... No wiring, no Plumbing, no plastered walls and only 3 plastered ceilings, all the queen ann cornicing had gone, all the pannelled rooms had complete walls missing and those remaining we not only damaged by fire but also by the water supplied from the numerous fire stations ( Richmond, Chelsea, Sunbury, New Malden & Wembley) who provided pumps (engines) the 1000's of gallons of water poured in went when behind the painted panelling was absorbed immediately as it's reverse was unpainted, easily absorbed the panelling expanded rapidly making the panels warp, buckle and split.

The whole of the attic (where the fire had started) had been lost, it was now just studded walls showing where the intended rooms were to be re-instated. It was now bereft of any of its past, bright, uniform new timber was present alongside modern foam insulation.

The corridor to the ballroom had lost its welcoming arch and its oval skylight was a distant memory. Not only were doors missing, but their frames and their surrounding walls had left the site on the night of the fire and due to the surveyor they had not returned. The master bedroom had new narrow floorboards, the hall floor which was 1930's parquet ( disguised with a painted black and white floor) , and the sitting room also had parquet flooring, but the water had ruined them, the builders had pulled them up and in doing so the had damaged the 18th century boards below.

The replaced main chimney stack was just breeze blocks, its marble surround was lost, no hearth, the surviving damaged panneling when later restored would have to be enlarged to accomodate the large mistaken size that replaced the former. The dining room chimney was jammed full of bricks. dumped there when the builders had lowered its height as a saftey measure when the first chimney collapsed.

The rebuild had taken so long that dryrot was spreading in the master bedroom unchecked.

In addition to the above, outside the remit of the insurance monies for the rebuild, parts of the property were in a poor state, the window sills were rotting away, front door's portch was suffering and it's base needed replacing, the Southside of ballroom wall (internally and externally) and ceiling was in need of repair, the bakehouse needed to be reboarded in parts , its lower brickwork re rendered, the solid weatherboard tarred with pitch, and the ballroom & Coach House eves and slates needed attention.





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