It's a long weekend here in Australia, so we were able to catch some much-needed rest over the past three days. This last week was a hectic one, getting things rolling and wrapping up quotes and planning at the same time. We made a hasty decision on damp specialists so we could start on the most crucial work earlier rather than later. If we'd had more time, we would have attempted to get a few more quotes & feedback; as it was we were pretty happy with the quote from the company we settled on and they could begin straight away.

Foundation - After

With the floor removed, our damp specialists got in on Tuesday to begin installing a damp proof course at the lowest point along all of the walls in the front four rooms. The original footprint of the house is on a sandstone foundation. Add very porous sandstone to very porous hundred year old bricks, and you get a major case of rising damp. Since we wanted to render the brick walls with cement, we needed to keep the moisture from coming up the walls. We also wanted to make sure the new timber floorboards we were hoping to buy would stay dry and protected. Rising damp can also contribute greatly to the presence of toxic mould.

There are basically three approaches to this that we started researching. The first one is a physical damp proof course. A course of bricks is chosen and the mortar is cut open horizontally a meter at a time. A plastic sheet is inserted in the opening, propped up with aluminium supports, and then mortared all into place.

The second option we found was to use airflow and fans to manage the moisture. The right inflow of fresh air could potentially circumvent the need to physically stop the moisture. This option would pump out old air and pump in air from outside to improve the circulation under the floor.

The third option, similar to a physical damp proof course, was what's known as a chemical damp proof course. This involves drilling holes along one course of bricks and injecting a substance that forms a moisture barrier inside the bricks, usually silicone-based.

New vent - outside

Our damp specialists installed a physical damp proof course on all interior and exterior walls in the front four rooms. They also enlarged the vents in the front of the foundation and added three new vents along the side wall. This should help greatly improve ventilation and circulation of air under the house, keeping it dryer, and allowing more light in, which will also help deter termites.

While all that was going on, we were also finalising the last of our quotes for the remaining building work, checking up on the progress of the damp course and vents, doing general cleanup, and trying to pick out exterior paint colours. While the walls are drying out, we will eventually need to scrape off the exterior paint and paint on a moisture resistant membrane that still allows our moisture-sucking bricks to breathe and ventilate.

We played around with a lot of paint samples, picking primarily blues and greys. Andrea made a mockup in Photoshop of how we think the exterior should look once we've painted on the colours we've chosen. We wonder how close it will be once we're done?

Original House Colours

Before

Concept - New Exterior Colours

After?