STRUCTURAL SURVEY CARRIED OUT BY SMITHERS PURSLOW
Our Ref: 220106/GC/ad
Enquiries to: Graham Cooley
Mobile: 07766 763556
14 February 2022
Barrowden Village Hall
For the attention of Valerie Fraser
Re: BARROWDEN VILLAGE HALL, WAKERLEY ROAD, BARROWDEN, OAKHAM LE15 8EP
Further to your instructions we can confirm our Mr Graham Cooley carried out a site visit and inspection of the village hall on Monday, 24 January 2022. The purpose of this visit was to consider the current condition with a view to assisting the Village Hall Committee to confirm a long-term strategy for the maintenance for the hall.
This was a visual inspection only and no opening up or other investigations were carried out unless expressly identified within this report.
Any references to right and left are as standing in the roadway looking towards the main entrance on the gable end of the building. Thus, the kitchen is to the left-hand side and the path leading down to the community shop is to the right-hand side of the building.
1.0 BACKGROUND INFORMATION
1.1 The existing village hall has a date stone in the front gable identifying construction in 1927. The architectural style of the hall is consistent with this.
1.2 The village hall occupies a site next to the community shop, beyond which is the Doctor’s surgery. Due to the presence of three community facilities in close proximity, there was a proposal that a community hub be constructed to bring together these facilities and modernise the buildings so that it would be fit for purpose for the foreseeable future.
1.3 It is understood that planning permission was obtained for the proposed community hub and funding options explored. Unfortunately, following the Covid-19 pandemic, the previous funding options are no longer available. This has prompted the village hall to reconsider options available.
1.4 The existing building has a pitched roof to the original main hall with external tiles, timber frame external walls and a timber floor upon brick foundations. There is a later flat roof extension which contains toilet facilities, kitchen facilities and a storage area.
1.5 The site itself has a slope down from the road towards the rear.
1.6 At the time of the inspection the weather was overcast and dry.
2.1 The site has a slope down towards the rear. This enables an undercroft to have been possible in the original construction which is used for storage.
2.2 The undercroft is accessed by some timber doors at the rear of the building. These timber doors are suffering from wear and tear and there is some gradual deterioration to these.
2.3 Within the undercroft it is clearly visible that the original 1927 construction is supported upon brick columns and an external brick wall. The brick columns and external walls support the timber floor above.
2.4 The floor of the undercroft follows the natural ground level and slopes up towards the front of the building. This is formed of earth which is most likely original to the site.
2.5 To the rear right-hand side of the building, damp is present within the undercroft.
2.6 Elsewhere, the storage of items restricted access, however, efforts were made to view as much of the undercroft as possible. No further major defects were identified.
2.7 To the rear right-hand side corner of the original building is a downpipe. This discharges directly onto the ground in this area. This will be the source of damp within the undercroft, although raised ground levels in the same location are also unhelpful.
2.8 Whilst previous repairs have been carried out to the low level brickwork, this is currently experiencing general wear and tear to both mortar joints and bricks themselves where a number are spalling.
2.9 The original hall has a timber frame. On the rear elevation it is evident that previous repairs have been carried out to the external cladding to the timber frame. Evidence on the front elevation indicates that the external cladding was originally lath and plaster with an external render.
2.10 On the rear elevation the lath and plaster has at some stage in the past, been replaced with plywood and then a textured finish upon this. This in turn is now failing. In areas, the plywood is becoming delaminated and the textured finish is falling away.
2.11 At the bottom of the timber frame, fungal growth is present in several areas along the rear elevation. This would indicate moisture ingress and probably internal rot to the frame in these areas.
2.12 To the left-hand side of the original building is a flat roof projection. This has the appearance of being constructed in two phases, with the store towards the rear left-hand side corner being built later than the earlier toilet and kitchen area.
2.13 The fascias to the flat roof of the projection are experiencing deterioration and rot.
2.14 A ladder was used to view the flat roof of the left-hand side projection. This has experienced several roof leaks in recent years and patch repairs are present. However, this flat roof has clearly reached the end of its useful life.
2.15 The pitched roof of the main hall has previously had localised tiles replaced. The entire roof is now covered in moss, however, the tiles beneath have the appearance of being asbestos containing tiles.
2.16 To the front elevation, relatively recent repairs have been carried out to patch repair areas of the original render which have become loose and deteriorated. These repairs have been carried out well, however, they are a further indication of gradual wear and tear around the building.
2.17 The downpipe to the front left-hand side of the original hall near the toilets discharges direct onto the ground in this area.
2.18 To the right-hand side elevation, there are some old steps leading up to a external door which is now blocked up on the inside. These steps are suffering from wear and tear and general deterioration. Adjacent to these, vegetation is climbing along the outside of the wall and there is evidence of damp within low level brickwork adjacent to these.
2.19 Around the entire building, window frames are experiencing localised areas of rot. In some areas, previous repairs have been carried out to extend the life of the window frames, however, most of the window frames now require further repair or replacement.
2.20 Upon entering the building, there is further evidence that the Village Hall Committee have tried to carry out routine maintenance and regular updating of the building. The heating was originally supplied by fireplaces located adjacent to the external walls. These are now redundant and electric heaters are present on the walls.
2.21 In addition to the electric heaters, there is a boiler for the hot water and an external oil tank to the right-hand side elevation. The oil tank is clearly of some age and ongoing maintenance and eventual replacement will be required.
2.22 Within the kitchen, the fittings are well maintained and in relatively good order. However, there is evidence of roof leaks to the kitchen ceiling where localised patch repairs have been carried out. Likewise, elsewhere roof leaks are evident.
2.23 Within the rear store, the external walls are exposed to the flat roof projection and are constructed of blockwork with an external render.
2.24 In areas within the main hall, daylight can be seen through the ridgeline indicating that there has been some deterioration of mortar in this area.
2.25 There is some indication of beetle infestation to timbers, although no recent frass was seen to indicate this was active. It should, however, be noted that the hall is kept clean and tidy and therefore any frass would have been cleaned and not be visible.
2.26 The main roof is a timber frame and the ceiling extends up to the underside of the roof where timber boards are present.
2.27 When viewed externally, the main pitched roof has some undulation to the ridgeline which is not uncommon in older buildings indicating some gradual creep and deflection to the roof timbers.
2.28 While the roof tiles could potentially contain asbestos, it should also be noted that textured wall coverings are also one of the potentially many asbestos containing materials. Thus, some of the texturing to external walls may contain asbestos.
3.0 OPINION & RECOMMENDATIONS
3.1 The Village Hall Committee both recently and historically have been diligent in maintaining and updating the building. Despite these efforts, the building is now experiencing wear and tear such that, extensive works are required.
3.2 In order to make the building fit for purpose by preventing further deterioration and carrying out urgent repairs, the following major works will be required. It should be noted that these major items exclude routine maintenance and improvements to the building. These works are required in order to maintain the building as it is presently.
• Replace the roof covering to the left-hand side projection. It is anticipated this will require new roofing felt and in several places, decking to be replaced.
• Replace fascias and associated removal and re-fitting of guttering and downpipes.
• Extend guttering and provide drainage to remove water discharge from downpipes away from the building.
• The main tiles to the pitched roof are reaching the end of their life and should be stripped and removed. It is assumed that these contain asbestos which is a contributing factor for removal and replacement of the entire roof covering.
• To the rear elevation, strip external wall coverings and replace. It should be assumed that damp will have affected the timber frame beneath and accordingly repairs and replacement to elements of the timber frame will be required.
• Associated with the above works, the internal cladding will need to be removed and reinstated where the timber frame is replaced and repaired.
• Low level external brickwork needs repair, particularly areas which have been affected by damp.
• Vegetation to be stripped away from the building. External ground levels checked and reduced and areas affected repaired.
• Internal ceiling repairs are required where roof leaks have occurred.
• Associated with the above, asbestos testing needs to be carried out to textured surfaces and appropriate asbestos removal carried out.
• Ongoing maintenance will be required to the external render surface, particularly to the front elevation where repairs have already been carried out to the lath and plaster in this area. Ongoing deterioration and repair should be anticipated.
• Around the entire building, external windows require extensive repair or replacement. Likewise, the doors to the undercroft.
3.3 Should the above works all be carried out, the remaining building will still be poorly insulated compared to modern buildings and there will have been no improvement to any of the facilities which in some areas are gradually becoming dated. It is anticipated that ongoing expense will be incurred in relation to heating and the hot water system, in addition to the routine maintenance required on an old building such as this.
3.4 While the village hall has some historic character, realistically it is now outdated.
3.5 The alternative to the above extensive repairs and refurbishment is to demolish and replace the building in its entirety. Such action would result in a building with modern insulation and construction techniques. The opportunity to reduce the cost of heating and carbon emissions associated with any heating would clearly be beneficial for both running costs and the building as a whole. The ongoing maintenance costs would be reduced in addition to the opportunity being available to update and upgrade areas such as the toilet facilities.
3.6 Giving consideration to the two options above, it is our opinion that demolishing and rebuilding the village hall with a new structure would in the medium to long term be far more cost effective and would provide a building which will be a village asset for many decades to come.
3.7 By retaining the existing building and carrying out extensive refurbishments whilst there is some benefit in the short-term, the running costs will not be reduced and ongoing maintenance will still be required that will be far greater than that for a new building. It is our opinion that this should not be considered as a cost effective or viable option for the future of this village hall.
We trust the above confirms our observations and recommendations, however, should you have any further queries or wish to discuss any aspect of the recommendation, please do not hesitate to contact the writer who will be happy to help.
GRAHAM COOLEY BEng (Hons) Dip Surv ICIOB
Senior Building Surveyor & Structural Engineer
Enc Photographic Plates
STRUCTURAL ENGINEER'S REPORT CARRIED OUT BY PICK EVERARD, LEICESTER IN AUGUST 2012