I hosted a visit the other day for about a dozen local people representing the Recorders of Uttlesford History (www.recordinguttlesfordhistory.org.uk). The group was set up to record the present and ensure that valuable artefacts and archives of the past are conserved. The Recorders wished to see my property in its current unrenovated condition and plan to return again later.
Over the years, there’s been much local interest in the range of buildings that includes my cottages. When purchasing them, I discovered that local donations and a wider appeal helped the Ancient Buildings Trust (ABT) acquire the range in the 1930s to protect it from possible harm. The ABT was the property-holding arm of the SPAB, who, coincidentally, I work for!
To secure the donors’ gift should the ABT sell its interest, it took a long lease and vested the freehold in the National Trust. The ABT sold its lease in the 1960s after overhauling the greater part of the range. However, it hadn’t been able to gain vacant possession of what are now my two cottages to modernise these. They’ve changed little since, so in many ways I’m picking up where the ABT left off over 40 years ago.
Every month I’m downloading onto my computer readings from half a dozen data loggers that I have distributed around the property – five inside and one outside. The idea is to identify any locations where the fabric might be at risk of deterioration due to condensation, as well as to obtain a clearer picture of how the building is performing in order to help guide me with the changes I make to the levels of thermal insulation and ventilation as part of my renovation project.
I purchased the loggers online from http://www.tomsgadgets.com (Lascar EL-USB-2). They record air temperature, humidity and dew point (the temperature at which water vapour in the atmosphere begins to condense). The devices, which are battery-operated, are currently set to sample at hourly intervals. The data stored is downloaded by plugging the logger straight into a computer’s USB port and running the purpose-designed software that comes with it. The data can then be graphed, printed or exported to other applications.
The monitoring has already enabled me to establish that I need to improve the conditions in one of my roof spaces to reduce the likelihood of condensation and associated timber decay.