Water, water, everywhere

Updated: Jan 2, 2020

This week’s news from Moreton was all about the water. It seems to have been an unusually wet year – or is north Devon always like this? I hope we haven’t make a big mistake! It seems as though pretty much everything has been leaking. It’s baffling and more than a little bit depressing, as this time last year we were congratulating ourselves on our luck and being pleasantly surprised how weather-tight we seemed to be. Just a few small drips we put down to aging putty in the windows above the main stairs.

Since then, however, we never seem to have enough buckets. The problems began last summer when we started some minor roof repairs, mostly to some of the cracked lead gutters. This was mid-summer, as we were aiming for the best of the weather to take some tiles off. But mid-works, and (of course) the first night I stayed over on my own, we had a full average month’s rainfall in 24 hours. And we had a big section of the roof covered only in tarpaulin. I was woken up horribly early by the wind and rain, to find water leaking in everywhere and bailed out solidly for about 4 hours until the rain subsided.


Nice start to the morning. Shower room becomes pond (with random old column). The water was about 2 inches deep before I started. Check out the colour!

An unwelcome emergency call to the roofing contractor, and we got that bit sealed up better. But a couple of days later there was a lake on the ground floor running all the way along the main corridor and round past the school kitchens. We had been plotting how we might build a swimming pool eventually, little did we realize we already had one!

Bizarrely, there was nothing much on the floors above to show where it was coming from. Another emergency call to roofers and rescue visit from sis and brother in law, and this time they found it was a blocked drainpipe overflowing and coming in underneath a door. Ever since, we seem to have been chasing the leaks around. Fix one bit of roof, the problem moves.

There’s no rapid progress here. Our roofing contractor tends not to turn up to work unless they have a few consecutive days of good weather forecast. And we have to stick within the description of repairs and maintenance (listed building) for any roof work we do now, but gradually the roof is getting better at its job. We are still tickling along six months later. We have boarded up the most problematic windows pending planning approval for the refits, and need the weather to warm up before we can fix the worst of the cracks in the external render (lime render doesn’t harden in the cold). With the recent drop in temperatures, the condensation (and resulting mould) has been pretty distressing. More dehumidifiers and buckets on the shopping list and a much larger than normal number of cleaning hours! And hopefully every bit of work improves things just a bit more.


Not the grandest of entrances! Definitely a before picture.

Priorities have shifted according to the areas that have suffered worst over the winter. We’re just putting together the paperwork to get on with renovating a second apartment on the first floor in the ‘new’ wing (Victorian period). We were going to do this later, but it has a bit of a leak around one of its chimneys, and is now visibly suffering. That wallpaper might have to go, no?

So roll on spring, and here’s hoping for warmer weather, planning speediness, and a clear enough forecast for the roof contractors to fancy coming to work! I’ll share some before pictures of this apartment next time, and maybe someone will be able to tell me who lived here?

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