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David Kelly, Chartered Engineer, made a preliminary inspection of Gortnahoe Church in August 2005, and works which ideally should be put in hand without too much delay are as follows:

  1. The complete removal of all of the existing gutters and their refurbishment and reinstatement, if suitable matching sections can be sourced to replace those irreparably damaged.  The alternative is to fit new gutters of the same pattern.  In reinstalling the gutters it would be prudent to also fix a continuous damp course behind the gutter to prevent rainwater from overflowing gutters from penetrating the wall in the future.

  2. Renew the down pipes and extend them fully down to ground level.

  3. Provide a piped drainage system for rainwater and conduct the down pipes into back inlet gulleys so that they do not overflow on to the ground when the gratings are blocked by leaves.

  4. The eaves under course of slates have failed completely on the north west side of the Nave and reinstatement is urgent.  The options here are to go for either a long term solution or a short to medium term one.  In the first instance, the north west roof slope could be stripped completely, but carefully, then under felted and reinstated using as many of the existing slates as survive the stripping process and making good the difference with matching second hand slate.  That solution will outlast the nail life on the other slopes and should last for a significantly long term.  The alternative is to strip the first three or four courses and then reinstate.  The disadvantage in this instance is that the final course to be fixed back will have to be held in place using clips.  If well done, this should last until the remainder of the roof needs to be reslated.

  5. The installation of a land drain, backfilled with gravel up to ground level around the perimeter of the church, would greatly reduce the effect of rising damp.

Other issues were noted in the course of his visit – The external render is not ideal for a stone built Church, however, as it is in good condition there is no justification for removing it at least until the effect of the works scheduled can be observed.  Lack of ventilation in the Church.  Some of softer timbers have active woodworm infestation, in particular the battens on the sides of the trusses which support the ceiling and in many of the ceiling boards. There is quite severe rain penetration around the stained glass windows, especially the rose window at the entrance gable.  The only solution to that problem is storm glazing by stained glass specialists.

David Kelly’s report is based on a visual inspection, and takes no account of parts permanently covered up and, therefore, no opinion are offered in relation to the foundations, substructure, drainage or other underground services, or inaccessible parts of the substructure.  His advice is that the works nos. 1 to 5 should be carried out in the first instance, following which time should be allowed for the Church to dry out before any further remedial measures are contemplated or before redecoration.