BRICKWORK CONSERVATION
by Andy Mann

"Old buildings are not preserved by making them new"
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'Sadly, I have to report, that Andrew Mann died on 9th February, after a battle with Cancer. His exceptional skills, expertise, encylcopaediac knowledge of and passion for his trade will be very greatly missed in the field of Building Conservation, and sausuage making!!-- as will his friendship. Howvere, his skills and traditions live on in other hands.

Please direct any work enquiries, both new and on-going, to
Kevin at kev@bfhitch.co.uk who works in similar ways to Andy, or Adrian at abarak@freezone.com

Such enquiries will be directed on to similally qualified work colleagues of Andy's, who will be happy to help and advise, carrying on his skills, as he would have wished. New information will be added as soon as possible. Thank You.

This webiste will soon be taken over by Chalk Down Lime. www.chalkdownlime.co.uk for more information.


Hello, I'm Andy Mann, and I welcome you to my web site. First of all let me explain that my web site is not just about me, and what I do. It is far more important than that. It is an education. An education that concerns the many beautiful ancient buildings that we are fortunate to have all around us in this country. I am interested in brickwork conservation and building conservation.

I have a passion for old buildings. I am a craftsman and appreciate the work and skill that went into these buildings, and I ardently believe that we should preserve them for future generations to enjoy. But what do we mean by the word "preserve". Old buildings are not preserved by making them new! The skill lies in repairing ancient structures with the minimum loss of original fabric, thus retaining their antiquity, their authenticity, their history.
To help me get my message across to you, I really need to explain something about the old building techniques and materials.
The craftsmen of old certainly knew a thing or two about building, which is why much of their work has lasted for hundreds of years. They realised that the very foundation upon which a building stands constantly changes. It is altered by factors such as climate (hot or cold), rainfall, and water table levels. They knew that if a building were to last the materials and methods of construction had to allow for this natural movement. They did not use rigid concrete in their foundations, and quite often laid their brickwork on stone placed directly on the ground. They also used lime mortars that allow the building to "breathe" by evaporating moisture into the atmosphere (whereas cement mortars used today retain moisture).
When these old buildings do eventually require repair, it is absolutely vital to use the same materials and building methods as the original craftsmen. Sadly this fact was not widely realised in the past, and modern materials such as Portland cement were used in repairs. Cement is the biggest "killer" of old buildings, especially when used in re-pointing, plastering, or rendering. It is not porous, and retains moisture, which by the wetting and drying, freezing and thawing cycles of the weather, destroys brickwork, and the original lime mortar, causing it to crumble to dust!
Repairs to foundations also need equal consideration. In fact the building shown below had no "foundation" as such, just a stone base laid on the ground on which the brickwork was placed. Over the years the ground subsided, causing the brickwork to crack and drop (as can be seen along the line of the original and repaired brickwork).
A modern solution (WHICH IS COMPLETELY WRONG!) is to underpin. This involves digging down and putting in a concrete foundation to support the building. The problem is that concrete is too hard and this practise creates a "hard spot". Bear in mind the building is constantly moving, create a "hard spot" and that part of the building will not move (but the rest of it will, causing at the very least more severe cracks!).
Almost the entire wall had to be propped up, whilst the damaged section of brickwork was removed. A foundation was constructed that would allow for the natural movement of the building. A trench was dug to a depth of about a metre, and a stepped foundation built of bricks and hydraulic lime mortar. The wall was rebuilt using as many of the original bricks as possible, although many were too badly damaged to re-use. The building should now be good for many years to come.
So as you have probably guessed by now, I am absolutely dedicated to the correct preservation of old buildings, and have no time for "get rich quick" modern building practises. My specialities are lime mortar, lime plaster, and lime render, traditional brickwork, stone repair, and plastering, and my work includes vernacular to ecclesiastical. I am prepared to take on any sized project (even down to the smallest repair) as my aim is solely the preservation and conservation of old buildings.

I am also very keen to pass on my skills, and offer onsite training and advice in traditional brickwork repair and the use of lime mortars, various re-pointing methods including pennyroll, tuck, galleting, etc., and hope soon to be able to offer mortar analysis.

So if you would like to see examples of my work, some of the projects I have worked on, or find out how to contact me, just "click" on the appropriate buttons below.