A Lincolnshire Toll House, grade II - Assessment and Repair

A domestic property dating from the late 18th century. I suspect it has earlier origins, but was extended at that time to become a toll house. Its form of construction is very typical for Lincolnshire (based on the many other Lincolnshire buildings I have been involved with over the years).

What was particularly interesting with this house, is it had not been adapted to 'modern living'. Rest room facilities were a bucket in an outhouse. There was one tap inside, and the electricity provision consist of a two lights powered by a car battery under the kitchen sink. Floors were formed with clay tiles on earth. In summary it was a very simple cottage.

The project

A relatively small project for Capstone, but typical of the many smaller 'site visit and report' projects we do. In summary I was asked to determine what, if anything, of the fabric of this seriously distressed historic building could be saved, after a 'non historic building friendly' structural engineer had already recommended full demolition.

The engineering challenges

The pictures tell the story better than words. The main issues were:

  • Collapse to the front of the building due to destabilisation from the tree
  • Outward movement to the side of the building due to long term water ingress
  • Total failure of the hip beam

The solutions

I spent around 3 hours inspecting this structure. I find that you really need to spend a significant amount of time fundamentally looking at a building to fully understand it. I sketched up the structure, and gained an overview picture of the defects, how they related to each other, and their causes.

I concluded that much of the building remained unaffected by the collapses/distress and could be retained. I put forward two possible structural solutions. One where by the tree root ball remains in the ground, with the proviso that over coming years there would be further movement to be accommodated as the ground slowly adjusts. The other where the tree root ball is removed, necessitating more extensive rebuilding.

I was successfully able to determine that most of the building could be retained, but on balance some rebuilding was necessary.

Client - The owner