The History

This large Italianate mansion, completed in 1848, which has a grade II* listed building status due to its exceptional architectural interest, was designed by Anthony Salvin, a renowned architect well known for his restorations of Windsor Castle and the Tower of London.

The house was commissioned by Col. J.L.V. Watkins, whose family had married into the Pennoyre family of Herefordshire.

The current building occupies the site of a former country house of 1779 and is actually said to be a recasing of this original home. The property was used as a special school from 1947-67, a nursing home from 1968-2003 and had remained unoccupied since.

In 2005, the building was acquired by Bluewater Homes of Tredegar who began a total renovation and conversion to luxury apartments, which command spectacular views across the Brecon Beacons.

M. Camilleri & Sons Roofing Ltd was appointed as a specialist roofing contractor to undertake the re-roofing of this historic building and its coach-houses.

The Project

On 13 January 2005, we visited site to carry out our initial survey in order to produce a budget quotation for the re-roofing of the house and the coach-house. The existing roofs appeared to be finished with a combination of 3 or 4 different slate types in various sizes.

Initial overviews suggested a large roof of fairly complex design, however, further investigations revealed further complexities and challenges.

As a final revelation, the rear and side roof areas, which appeared to be of bitumen covered lead cladding, were in fact finished with an interesting slate "slab and roll" finish. Research confirmed that the roof was originally entirely finished with this slab and roll detail, which was mostly removed around 1890 along with the very impressive conservatory dome (see above picture).

As the slab system had been in place for around 100 years, the putty fillings in all of the fixing holes had solidified to such an extent that our only option for removal was to drill around each fixing and lift the slabs off. This applied to all roll fixings as well as the two head fixings per slab. A specialist water-cooled drill bit was procured for this purpose.

As the slabs were arranged on the roof in 4', 5' and 6' lengths (plus cut lengths at hips, valleys, chimney stacks, etc.) and the rolls rebated and tapered to suit this particular roof, it was obvious that the best results would be achieved by re-fixing the slabs and rolls in the same configuration. This required a very careful removal and indexing process for all components. Furthermore, it was vital that the system was removed with absolute minimal damage as replacement items carried a very high cost - this high level of care was also required to extend to the temporary storage of these elements.

The drilling element of the removal process resulted in enlarged fixing holes, unsuitable for countersunk fixings. These were therefore amended to suit.

The refurbishment scheme also involved the removal and renewal of over 1,450m2 of pitched and vertical traditional slate coverings as well as over 720m2 of sheet lead coverings (box gutters, flat roofs, pitched roofs and vertical cladding). The slated roofs included standard details such as open lead valleys, lead ridge and hip rolls as well as bespoke lead cappings to ornamental bathstone parapets. As the ornate Georgian ceilings and columns

were to be retained, it was imperative that any water ingress during the roof renewal work was kept to an absolute minimum. However, as the central core of the main roof was to re-designed on a continuous, piece-meal basis this was not as straightforward to achieve as anticipated.

As the client's budget could not accommodate an over-roof, we were required to work very closely with the main contractor and their carpentry team in order to achieve completion with minimal water entry. This was achieved with only two minor leaks during a very extensive re-design.

N.H.I.C. Award

Our efforts in completing this project to the highest possible standard were recognised by the National Home Improvement Council as it secured their "Excellence in Roofing" award for 2007.

The judges commented that this was a "complex project requiring utmost skills and attention to detail, it was completed on time and to budget. The new owners' succinct comments are probably the ultimate accolade when they concluded 'there are only a few roofing companies in this country who could have tackled a project of this complexity in such a successful and efficient manner."

This is our second success in as many entries in this category as it repeats our 2002 award.