Whilst beautiful, the manner in which historic buildings were built, with their decorative elements and complicated structures, often means that over time parts of the structure are liable to becoming unstable. This could be anything from gargoyles or grotesques becoming dangerously weathered, eroded balusters, or something as simple as recessed pointing leading to wobbly pinnacles. In many cases, the ferrous materials which were used to link stones or hold down the tops of steeples can start to rust as a result of water finding its way in, and this rust can push the surrounding stones apart, leading to some fairly horrible situations.
A common example of dangerously weathered stones which went undiscovered until inspection
Quite often, the extent of these problems is only discovered at close quarters during an inspection. An architect might have suspicions of a problem, but it usually isn't until we're in position next to the fault that we realise just how dangerous the situation really is. In some cases, where a single non-structural stone is threatening to fall out, the stone can be removed there and then. But in many cases the work requires a further visit, hopefully to do something simple such as a little lime pointing, or removal or several offending stones and associated metal work. In some extreme cases though the damage might require fairly extensive works, and a temporary solution may be required in the meantime whilst the extent of these works is approved.
Temporary stabilisation measures whilst further works are approved
If we are inspecting a building and find something which we consider to be immediately dangerous, we will do our best to secure it before leaving, so as not to leave a hazard. If this is not possible then we will try to return as soon as possible to make sure that the hazard can be made properly safe. In a lot of cases this ultimately comes down to pointing the joints which have led to an area of a building become unstable, so as to consolidate that area. At times, a pinnacle or the top of a steeple might need to be fully deconstructed stone by stone, so the ferrous rod at its centre can be removed and replaced with a stainless alternative. A few stones might need to be remade by a mason if they were damaged by the rust exploding outwards, and then we can rebuild the area, bringing it back to its former glory.
These are all jobs which can be done in a safe, low impact, and cost effective manner using rope access. Whether you need an inspection to assess the extent of some damage, emergency stabilisation works, temporary stabilisation measures, or larger works to resolve a known problem, Highlife rope access will always endeavour to get the job done to the highest standard, leaving you with peace of mind that your building is safe and secure.
Stabilisation/consolidation works at Conwy castle (members of the Highlife team were subcontracted to Sally Strachey Historic Conservation)