Identifying and solving building problems environmentally without the use of chemicals

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Project Experience

Hawkins Boot Factory, Northampton


The historic Hawkins Boot factory closed in 1995 after 120 years and has been closed ever since.  Various attempts have been put forward to convert the buildings into luxury apartments.   When EBS Ltd inspected the building, the latest proposals were still some way off, so mothballing the building was required to prevent further deterioration.


This involved an initial walk through survey to identify which areas were suffering from water penetration and timber decay.  The building was found to be in very poor condition in many areas, as a direct result of defects to the roof finishes and rainwater disposal goods. This led to extensive timber decay caused by active dry rot and wet rots, with many structures unsafe and liable to collapse.

In order to stabilise the building, the water penetration had to be stopped as a priority.  Once this is achieved the problem of saturated masonry creates long term risk for dry rot and wet rot infestation leading to timber decay, as it takes a considerable time for saturated masonry to dry out.  Timber in contact with or embedded in the masonry, will continue to be at risk of future infestation and decay.

Preliminary recommendations were to remove the structurally decayed floors and provide permanent ventilation into the sound floor voids.  This was achieved by lifting the floorboards at the ends of joists and removing all the floor coverings.

EBS Ltd recommended provision of better ventilation into the building in the short term, to aid drying of the structure. EBS Ltd also indorsed fixing open windows (and pigeon proofing), cleaning all chimney flues and fireplaces to encourage general cross ventilation.


Further investigations such as measuring the moisture in the masonry, environmental monitoring, decay monitoring and drying out the building fabric will help to save the building.