Converting dry stone wall buidling into habitable

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Converting dry stone wall buidling into habitable

Postby ChrisF » Sun Mar 06, 2011 7:19 pm

Hello,

I was wondering if anyone here has experience of turning a once dry wall building into a habitable one through pointing internally and externally?

I am considering purchasing a Trulli in southern Italy. This very basic structure consists on of a circular dry stone wall (which can be anything up to 3m thick) and a stone conical roof mounted on top. With the walls being so thick it is not practical to take the structure down and re-build. Many have been 'restored' but I was wondering if anyone on the Forum had any thoughts as to how best to create a draught free structure.

I was thinking of pointing internally and externally with a lime mortar thus creating what would be in effect a very thick cavity wall.

Anyone? Any thoughts ... apart from staying in an hotel instead!

Chris
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Re: Converting dry stone wall buidling into habitable

Postby stonewaller » Sun Mar 06, 2011 8:42 pm

There is a bookon Trulli...."stone shelters" by Edward Allen. Can't remember if it says much on that aspect (a little sparse on mechanics) its playing hide and seek. If I remember and get a chnace I'll try and check. Meanwhile Allens book is available from Abe Amazon etc second hand...might be quicker than relying on me.

To be pedantic its trullo (trulli is the plural) I've looked into buying one, another unfulfilled dream, I assume you've looked into the nasty problems relating to Italian planning....

Whilst researching trulli a while back I was in contact with Pierfrancesco La Mura, who was very helpful. He had a website about a trulli he'd restored for letting, unfortunately the site seems to have disappeared.
If you PM me a request for info from him with a return email address I can forward it to the email address I have for him, which if it works....

for everyone else nice pics of trulli on Norman Haddow's blog at http://wallswithoutmortar.blogspot.com/2010/02/decoration-of-trulli.html plus the next couple of days...

Chris The Evan Oxland mentioned in the Blog is a Canadian I worked with in California, I'll PM him via another site to see what his knowledge is...

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Re: Converting dry stone wall buidling into habitable

Postby stonedyker@talk21.com » Sun Mar 06, 2011 9:35 pm

''stone shelters'' is worth buying.
It covers the history of Trulli and has many fine illustrations of Trulli and similar limestone structures.
The author mentions that Trulli are cold and damp in the winter. I'd like to see how modern building standards can be applied to these small vernacular structures, and, as Sean says, which ones are allowed by the local planning department!
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Re: Converting dry stone wall buidling into habitable

Postby stonewaller » Mon Mar 07, 2011 7:22 am

I've had a reply from Evan. Wallers are an eclectic lot, here we go...

"Unfortunately I don't have WIFI, still in Japan, and I'm heading to a zen monastery for silent meditation for the next week, in ten minutes, so I won't even be able to look at people let alone contribute to the dswa discussion website, but I have LOADS to say on that topic, I will pitch in when I have a chance back in Canada.

Two important factors of the weatherproofing is the earthern/lime plasters used on the interiors, the clay even has moisture absorbing capacity/ability which helps control humidity and is better than lime or cements at discouraging black mould which can be a problem in their wet winters, and the sometimes water/cistern collecting system in the stone walls themselves. I have interesting photos of the roofing tiles as well."

We shall have to wait suitably tantalised.
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Re: Converting dry stone wall buidling into habitable

Postby ChrisF » Mon Mar 07, 2011 8:20 am

Many thanks for all replying so quickly!

Any relevant information is most gratefully recieved.

Keep it coming!
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Re: Converting dry stone wall buidling into habitable

Postby plamura » Tue Mar 08, 2011 6:39 am

greetings -- Sean informed me of this thread on how to weatherproof a trullo, and I am happy to pitch in. I had the pleasure to renovate a trullo in the Itria valley, and documented the work on this website: http://sites.google.com/site/trulliholidays/

First, the roof: there are several typologies of trulli, which rely on different methods in order to shed rainwater. Trulli with "furno" roof, and trulli "saraceni" ("Turkish-style") which are used as human dwellings are completely plastered inside and outside, with a mix of clay, lime and sand, and periodically whitewashed. Trulli with "chiancarelle" ("stone shingles") roofs, which are the most common typology and the ones most likely to be used as human residences from the eighteenth century onward, have a roof system composed of multiple cones, and square rooms. This last type of trullo roof does not need to be plastered on the outside (even though in some areas this is also traditionally done): the cones are covered with overlapping rings of chiancarelle, slightly outward-bending in order to keep water away from the inner cone. During renovation one checks if the chiancarelle cover is still waterproof, and possibly reorganizes it, partially dismantling it and replacing broken or missing stones.

Second, the floor: trulli have typically no foundations, and the floor (made of large stone slabs) rests directly on the clay-rich soil or rock outcrop on which the trullo is built. When it rains, trulli absorb humidity from below by percolation. This is not a problem if the trullo is continuously inhabited, especially if the heating element is a fireplace or wood stove. For trulli used as seasonal dwellings, an electric dehumidifier can also be used to keep an optimal humidity level. During renovation, some opt to remove the floor slabs, dig some 20 cm, and install a vapor barrier, followed by a layer of ventilated brickwork, on top of which one then lies the original stone slabs.

Third, the walls: trulli typically have no windows, but "breathe" quite effectively through the clay and lime -based plaster and the cavities within the 2-meter thick dry stone walls. Building windows in a trullo (which is often done during renovation) greatly reduces the thermal inertia of the building. If one opts for an internal bathroom, it is preferable to use a forced-air conduit. Using a cement-based plaster, instead of a lime-based one, prevents breathing and causes the formation of molds, and thus should also be avoided.

I hope this helps!

best,

Piero
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Re: Converting dry stone wall buidling into habitable

Postby ChrisF » Wed Mar 09, 2011 2:47 pm

Many thanks for that looks like a very interesting project! How long ago did you do it

The Trulli we are looking at has the chiancarelle style roof, albeit not very waterproof at the moment.

We have seen several Trulli restired which have had concrete bases poured inside which have then had UFH intalled. I presume that these slabs are independent o the walls toallow differential movement.

With regards to the mortar used would you conside a lime mortar sufficiently slow to dry out given the high temperatures that can be expected in Southern Italy?

I have also seenthe stone cleaned, this was supposedly achieved by sandblasting the limestone. Do you conside tis an approriate method?

If we did point the stone inside and out (I do not really want to cover up the internally exposed stone with a render/plaster) how much depth of mortar would you think is necessary to infill the gaps between the stones for it to remain in place?

Regards,

Chris
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Re: Converting dry stone wall buidling into habitable

Postby plamura » Wed Mar 09, 2011 11:14 pm

Chris:

When shopping for a trullo it is important to keep in mind that, if the chiancarelle cover is in bad shape, then the inner cone may also be worn out, which could be dangerous for the stability of the structure. The only way to make the roof waterproof again is to dismantle and reinstall sections of the cover (provided that the inner cone is still in good shape) -- you'll see some trulli where the whole cracked cone, including what was left of the chiancarelle, has been covered with concrete. This, needless to say, is not an effective solution for waterproofing.

If the original stone floor is present, you may wish to preserve it -- in which case it would not be practical to install UFH (as the slabs are too thick), but a concrete or brick platform on top of a vapor barrier can still be installed under it to protect against humidity. To avoid the formation of condense it should also be ventilated, and, as you remark, it should be decoupled from the walls.

The platform around the roof system, which typically conveys rainwater into a cistern, should also be waterproofed. The way in which this is done depends on the style of the restoration: one can use a variety of materials, including rammed earth, cocciopesto, stone tiles, bitumen, or concrete.

Pointing, in place of plastering, the inner surfaces is also frequently done. Sometimes only selected stones are left exposed: cornerstones, arcs, niches. I think that, for best results, the mortar should have wide granulometry (some clay, some sand, some stone chips), and should be applied with energy, making sure to fill densely all the gaps (to, say, up to 5 cm. depth). Traditionally, plastering and periodically whitewashing was preferred to pointing. Partly, this was done for ease of maintenance, and partly on hygienic grounds: lime is quite effective as antibacterial and fungicide.

Apulian limestone is typically white when mined, then naturally turns grey with time because of the accumulation of biofilm. It can be sandblasted with good results.

Finally, the mortar will have time to cure even in the Summer, if you are pointing indoors: even with 40 C outside, the inside of a trullo remains below 25 C because of the large thermal inertia. If outdoors, I would avoid the Summer or do the work just before sunset.

-- Piero
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Re: Converting dry stone wall buidling into habitable

Postby Les Maxwell » Thu Mar 10, 2011 5:08 pm

I have spent a couple of holidays in Puglia the home of the Trulli houses.This is a great place for a holiday especially for wallers with great food and weather.

On my last holiday I photographed Trulli houses along with walls in the region also the inside of the trullo museum in Alberobello along with display of the tools used to constuct trulli houses.

I have a powerpoint presentation that I gave to my local branch a while a go. If anyone is interested e-mail me lesle154@btinternet.com and I will send them a copy of the images as the file is to big for this forum.

Alberobello is the place to visit a bit touristy even the church is a trullo.

Alberobello is where every man and his dog live in a trullo, see photograph any body fancy building one?

Cheers
Les
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Re: Converting dry stone wall buidling into habitable

Postby ChrisF » Fri Mar 11, 2011 9:45 pm

Many thanks to all for your help and advice.

Piero,

with reagrds to the roof of a Trulli the stones in some appear to be so well finished that there appears to be little room for mortar in between. See photo. I have also heard that in orginal form that they are never truly (no pun intended) waterproof.

Do you think it would be possible to waterproof these structures externally? Thoughts are to remove the external stone tiles leaving the cone structure. Waterproofing/bonding perhaps using a structural grout and mesh??? to literally glue the cone together and then dry-fit the tiles back over. It is one thing to make a dry stone wall but sleeping under several tons of loose stone makes me a little uneasy, no matter how long they have lasted before hand, besides I have seen several collapsed cones, hopefully unihabited at the time!

Regards,

Chris
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Re: Converting dry stone wall buidling into habitable

Postby plamura » Sat Mar 12, 2011 6:10 pm

Chris:

you can remove the cover and waterproof/stabilize the cone with mesh and cement, but there are trade-offs. One is that, if the cones are not free to transpire, the trullo becomes a bunker: unless you also open some windows, it will have stagnant air and excessive heat in the summer. The other is that, unless the cover is itself waterproof, when it rains some water will creep along the inner cone, and in the long run this may compromise stability. Finally, the mesh would only protect the cone from swelling outwards, but this is rarely the reason why trullo cones collapse. Typically they fall (inwards) if the cover is not properly maintained, so that rainwater eventually erodes the cone, as in the case of trulli which have been left in a state of abandonment for a long time.

It is true, as you remark, that the traditional chiancarelle-style roof is never fully waterproof, but this is mostly in the sense that, when it rains, some humidity is absorbed by capillarity along the surface of each chiancarella, and transmitted to the inner clay/lime-plaster, appearing on the inside in the form of condense. If water is dripping in, though, this is not normal and means that the cover is compromised.

If you'll find that a trullo, with its narrow spaces and habitability trade-offs is not ideal for you, you may also consider lamias and masserias. A lamia is a barrel-vaulted stone building, typically made with sawed blocks of soft limestone, either in dry masonry or bound with mortar. In the Apulian countryside many trulli, in the course of time, have been extended with one or more lamias. There are also villas and farmhouses built in the same style, with barrel- and cross- vaulted rooms...

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Re: Converting dry stone wall buidling into habitable

Postby ChrisF » Sat Mar 12, 2011 7:18 pm

Piero,

we have found a trulli and my wife has fallen in love with it. We have found a way around the small spaces inside but this does involve making openings between the butted trullo and a corridor around the back to link the smaller units together. I have been told that this is possible - how easy and costly is another matter. I am not sure if this joning trullo together can be achieved whilst the roof is on with the equivalent of acro-props or similar. How would you 'knock through'?

You seem very knowledgeable - are you from, or do you frequent the area?

Chris
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Re: Converting dry stone wall buidling into habitable

Postby stonewaller » Sun Mar 13, 2011 11:14 pm

I posted a reply here about making holes through walls. As I have received a request to post more photos, rather than lead to it contaminating this very interesting thread I've split it off to form another "Making Holes" accessesed through the General Discussion index or if your lazy clicking here http://forum.dswa.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=1202

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Re: Converting dry stone wall buidling into habitable

Postby stonewaller » Sat Mar 26, 2011 11:59 am

Forgot to mention. There's a useful little A4 booklet produced by CERAV "Building a drystone hut: an instruction manual" written by Christian Lassure. ISSN 0751-9656. Its not a skype number but browsers seem to think ISSN (magazine equivalent of ISBN) are phone numbers so it will probably turn up on your screen as one...Available from http://www.pierreseche.com- an amazing website primarily looking at Cabanes (French stone huts)
the specific link for the booklet is http://www.pierreseche.com/ERAV.html#5_annonce_erav29. Bit pricey and awkward to get hold of 17 euros and it has to be euros, I'm fortunate my signed copy was compliments of the author... Will be a short review in "Stonechat 23"

If you can read French there's a wealth of literature out there on all things stone and hutty. Shame they don't print more in English.

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Re: Converting dry stone wall buidling into habitable

Postby Nigel » Sat Mar 26, 2011 5:53 pm

stonewaller wrote:
If you can read French there's a wealth of literature out there on all things stone and hutty. Shame they don't print more in English.

SEan


for those of you that don't read French, I would recommend installing google chrome as your browser (if you come across a non English page chrome will ask you if you would like it translated), the link SEan has just given translates quite well. I can point anybody toward google chrome if they need it, but a quick google search should find it for you.

good luck.
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