The charm of a stone house is undeniable. When you own one or when you crack on a stone building to be rebuilt, the question of its renovation will inevitably arise. Ancestral, the renovation of a stone house does not require difficult techniques, but precautions and patience to know what it is necessary to renovate and how to renovate it without a lack of taste.
Stone house: should it be renovated or rebuilt?
This is always the question that should be asked as soon as you buy a stone house or even before you start renovating it. We renovate when the base is healthy but we redo if the structure is damaged. Without this postulate, one may come up against unpleasant discoveries during the renovation and it is important to never invest time and materials on an element that will then have to be removed. For this reason, the following elements should be checked in particular before purchasing the house to be repaired or before considering their repair:
– Stone walls: If the walls do not collapse under the weight of the frame, but are just cracked, with a few stones missing and obviously damaged joints, renovation can be considered provided the house is stable.
– The framework: generally on a stone house, the framework is an old-fashioned assembly of pegged beams. If the wood has been protected from rainwater by a roof and does not bend or crack, it can be renovated without repair. If the rain has soaked them, it is essential to first have them checked for the possible presence of termites and other wood-eating insects, but also for the presence of wood berries and other wood-eating fungi. For this purpose, it is almost indispensable to have a wood specialist or a real estate diagnostician come to draw up the parasitic state.
– Roofing: If the roof structure does not require repair, it may be different for the roof. But tiles, slates or other roofing can be easily redone. Before considering another more modern or more economical material, it is necessary to make sure that the new roofing is allowed in the town planning regulations.
Renovation of stone walls
As a general rule, unless there are modifications to the existing walls (excluding load-bearing walls of the floors and the frame), the stone house only requires a renovation of the joints with possibly a few stones to be replaced. Old-fashioned techniques are simple when it comes to repointing or replacing stones. There are two main categories of stone walls:
– Dimension stone: the assembly with fine and regular joints requires that each stone be cut precisely. Unless you have the technique, it is better to ask a stonemason to make the missing stones. The jointing is done in the same way as for the natural stone wall but with much more care in the regularity, smoothing and finishing.
– Natural stone: requires only a short cut because the pointing is done with mortar (for the exterior) or cement (for the interior). It is generally necessary to dig out the old joints (with a high-pressure cleaner, except for limestone, otherwise with a chisel) and then make new ones.
Good to know: a bastard mortar is prepared with 3 measures of sand, 1 half measure of white cement and 1 half measure of lime and water. The color of the mortar is obtained according to the color of the sand.
Cost of renovating a stone house
When you do it yourself, because the work to be done requires only simple techniques, the cost of renovating stone walls is quite affordable: less than $15/m². In spite of this, it is always interesting to get quotes from different craftsmen because the time saved is an undeniable asset.
Caution: unless you already know the simple masonry techniques (preparation of mortar and cement, application, resting, drying…), undertaking the renovation alone can lead to errors that can increase the quantities of materials to be acquired and therefore the final price of the restoration.
Entrusting the renovation of a stone house to a professional requires detailed estimates item by item (frame, roof, walls …) with the minimum possible reservations as to the state of the elements to be discovered (hence the need to have preliminary diagnostics). The recourse to an architect who will take only a small percentage of the work is a guarantee, especially when he coordinates the various trades (project manager or assistance to the project owner). Charging a mason or a company to renovate stone walls costs between $50 and $80 per m² depending on the type of stone (natural or cut) and the complexity of the work.
As soon as the estimate is accepted, plan for payment by instalments with a final reserve at the end of the work. Don’t pay the balance as long as there are defects and give your reasons by contacting the craftsman or company as soon as possible and double your phone call with a registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt.