Restoration and Extension of Stone Cottage
Castlebaldwin, Ballymote, Co. Sligo Click Image to Open Gallery


This project consisted of two parts, the construction of a new extension and the conservation and repair of the existing stone herdsman’s house (a listed building, built in the 1880s) and sheds.
The site consisted of the original house and out-buildings with an enclosed courtyard between the two. Planning had been approved for an extension linking the shed and the house. A detailed survey was carried out and it was agreed that the building had been altered at least three times. While the structure was in pretty good condition the main issues that needed to be addressed were the stone work which had been repointed using Portland cement, the natural slate roof, insulation and the installation of solar panels.

Portland cement should never be used instead of natural hydraulic lime in the repointing of traditional buildings as it creates a hard mortar which traps moisture and which can damage the building during the freeze/thaw cycle. Because of the risk of damage to the adjacent stones in removing the modern pointing, power tools were not used. Sample panels of re-pointing were prepared in order to find the best visual and textural match. A particular problem encountered was the loss of shallow-bedded pinning’s. It was possible to reinstate small stones of the original form and dimensions, and this demanded the highest level of masonry skills and ability to closely match the adjacent areas of masonry and patterns of pinning’s.

Internal and external inspections of the slate roof had been carried out to identify the problems and also to check for the presence of bats. Signs of decay were evident with moisture staining on the timber, walls and ceilings. Slipped slates and loose ridges were repaired. A section had to be re-slated due to an inadequate lap by the previous contractor which had resulted in the ingress of wind-driven rain. As with all our projects we advised the owner to carry out an annual check of the roof which will enable minor problems to be identified and dealt with before they become serious.
Solar panels were fitted on the south facing roof of the shed. Evacuated (vacuum) Tube solar panels are a popular option in Ireland due to their ability to operate efficiently in the colder and duller days we experience during the winter here. Two layers of attic insulation was fitted in the attic, 150mm between the ceiling joists and then another layer at right angles to the joists to help minimize cold bridging. Grant aid was availed of for the solar panels and the attic insulation.

The extension consists of a ground floor bedroom, bathroom and kitchen. As in much of our new work energy efficiency was top of the agenda. QUINN-lite aircrete blocks on the internal leaf of the cavity wall, Kingspan Kooltherm insulation in the floor, walls and roof plus A rated windows and doors ensured that this modern addition will be easy to heat. Kalico Multiplan pvc. membrane was fitted on the flat roof. The elevation facing the courtyard was faced with stone while the flat roof was discreetly hidden behind a small Mansard section of roof to help the extension blend in with the original buildings. A new sewerage treatment plant and sokaways for the dispersal of storm water were also installed.


The original buildings are much warmer and drier while the new link gives the owners the much needed floor area that was required to make this a comfortable family home. The work took seven months to complete and was finished on time and within budget.


Inspect your roof at least once a year, walk around your house (use binoculars if necessary) and look at your roof. If you see missing, broken, or sliding slates, or lead flashing that looks suspect, call your slater.