The posts of the timber frame of our Orchard House rest directly on stone pads. In order to keep their feet out of the damp, and (hopefully) keep the rot at bay we are using a little trick kindly donated by local timber framer and woodsman, Ben Law. The idea is to use a piece of slate as a damp proof course.

I couldn’t stand the idea of using imported slate under our lovely local timber frame, but being on the sand and clay geology as we are had to use a bit of initiative to find something suitably sustainable. A trip to see Arthur Rudd, who runs a building reclamation yard (and always has something fascinating to tell you) a few miles away on the other side of town provided the answer. In between telling me stories of how he used to thatch cottages in the neighbourhood with heather as a lad he showed me to a quiet corner of his yard where he had several neatly stacked piles of slate. He showed me how to tell where they came from by looking at the different colours, the way they split and the way they can be worked. We looked at slates from all over the place, before finding a pile that had (prior to spending a lifetime on a roof somewhere nearby) been hewn from the ground in Delabole in Cornwall.

slates at arthurs

I could hardly turn this opportunity down. A little piece of Cornwall proping up our timber frames, almost to good to be true. Arthur kindly donated 12 slates to the project, and they headed back with a smiling Dave to Swan Barn Farm. Back on site we jacked up the posts…

jacking up posts

And popped the slates underneath.

popping in slate

A bit of chipping with the hammer and chisel later we had a nice neat damproof course.

chipping slate

post on slate

Handy really, as not too long after that the weather broke and it started to rain.

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