Restoring the wooden veranda of Oleri Manor

The wooden veranda of Oleri Manor’s Master House (the late 19th century) suffered in a fire in 2000, and up to the autumn 2008 there was not launched its major renovation. Prior to this, presumably, around 1970, some elements of the veranda were superficially repaired and were in a significant contrast to the original structure, which is characterized by high-quality handmade crafts.

The restoration of the veranda was organized by the association “Oleri Manor” in 2008 within the framework of the project “Understand a wooden house”. During the restoration process 12 craftsmen improved their knowledge in the restoration of wooden buildings and their elements - windows, doors, stairs. Training sessions were led by specialists from Riga and Cesis. The rest of the time the work was carried out by two craftsmen, who also coordinated the application of the elements used in the training sessions.

 

TO SUCCESSFULLY RESTORE THE DISMANTLING MUST BE PHOTOGRAPHED

 

Already originally there was defined the concept in the restoration of the building - to maximally maintain the existing structure, for instance, in places, where it was possible, there was preserved the original painting, a well-preserved end of the decorative roof beam was “extended” with a newly constructed roof beam. Likewise there were carefully dismantled and reset under new putty the existing window panes. Metal fittings were carefully cleaned and, while hot, primed with lead minium. Missing parts were made by a blacksmith.

 

Later it turned out that the initial assessment of the building "relatively well-preserved" is incorrect. After the dismantling of the wooden veranda and inspection of its elements, it was clear that the scope of work considerably increased. Both the beams and poles in many places were unnoticeably rotten, which could not have been stated even by the most experienced masters unless dismantling the building. Completely anew there were constructed three roof beams, all the poles required the extension of the lower parts. Horizontal structural elements in the roof crown and wall panels on the invisible side were heavily rotten. The supporting beams had to be replaced. Floor boards had to be made anew. There was lost the solidity of the masonry structure in the plinth wall part of the building supporting the roof beams of the veranda.

While dismantling the building, the elements in a well-visible place were temporarily labelled with chalk. Later, while extending the elements, we labelled them anew in invisible parts. We developed the element labelling system during the dismantling, while drawing the roof and wall schemes. Later there turned out to be rather useful the suggestion made by the leader of the training to make as many photo fixations as possible, even for nodes and components of connections at that time understandable, because after seven months during the assembling work, a lot of this understanding was already lost! After the dismantling the components were transported to a workshop, where they were cleansed and the exact condition of each component was assessed. It must be said that our advantage was sufficient amount of time and, consequently, hasteless restoration deadlines.

 

Restore applying ancient techniques

 

In order to ensure a long-term viability of the historic buildings, in restoration work there shall be used traditional materials and methods of work. Also, restoring historic buildings, it is crucially important to use the construction materials available in the corresponding historical period.

For the extensions there was used air-dried pine wood, which had been stored in a stack for four years. Since for two of the newly constructed roof beams there was no timber of necessary dimensions, we produced them from the logs sawn in the winter of that year. While extending the ends of the beams, we created complex joining spots to highlight the craft quality of the building.

For the decoration there was applied linseed oil primer, the elements were several times, in some sections even four times, impregnated until there was attained a steady lustre. Largest cracks were filled with linseed oil putty “reinforced” with hemp fibre. We painted with linseed oil paint in two shades thus highlighting the visual lightness of the architectonic structure. We painted the ladder directly exposed to precipitation with linseed oil-tar paint.

It should be remembered that rags soaked with heated linseed oil are flammable and while drying can spontaneously combust. Also it is useful to remember that in poorly ventilated areas linseed oil contributes to the growth of mould.

A significant amount of work in the restoring of the veranda was made on the glazing of windows, where we used a 2 mm thick recycled glass. Some panes it was possible to make from the glass produced at the turning point of the 19th- 20th centuries, other – of the one made in the 30-ies of the 20th century. While planning work, the drying period of putty for the windows should be projected at least three weeks because it dries slowly!

It shall be kept in mind that even after the restoration all the elements of the building shall be checked and maintained on a regular basis - at least once a year, preferably in the spring, especially the windows, where the putty and painting shall be restored.

In the restored veranda there has been established the Traditional Historic Building Information Office. To see the veranda and get information on traditional construction and commercially available materials it is possible, in due time announcing a visit by phone: 29251565 or e-mail: oleri@apollo.lv. Contact person – Karlis Zemitis.

 

Restoration and training sessions were led by:

Restoration consultant architect Ilmars Dirveiks (ph.: 29481870)

Disassembly and assembly - Normunds Krumins (ph.: 26136030)

Extensions and restoration – Karlis Rubenis (ph.: 29149359), Ugis Balla (ph.: 29104496)

Painting and glazing - Edgars Raitums (ph.: 29180016)

Restoration of metal fittings - Janis Vilskersts (ph.: 26349329)

Carpentry and joinery - Karlis Zemitis (ph.: 29251565)

Norwegian experience in preservation of wooden buildings was shared by Ture Robergshagen

 

 

 

On the picture there is the wooden veranda of Oleri Manor after the restoration.

Roof reconstruction

The reconstruction of the roof on the Master House of Oleri Manor was carried out in 2012 - 2014.

 

"The availability of Oleri Manor and promotion of its use in public life." (Project No.12-09-LL11-L413201-000008, activity of EAFRD LEADER)

 

On the picture. At the end of 2010 the association "Oleri Manor" received as a gift construction elements of a mansard window dated the late 18th century that came from a building in Vidzeme region. The window met the period of construction of the mansard roof in "Oleri Manor" and was used as a model for the construction of other mansard windows. The elements of the currently existing window were restored and installed in "Oleri Manor."

Oleri manor

The economic basis of Oleri Manor complex restoration is voluntary work, donations and support of different funds. It is mentioned for the reader to understand that even with limited resources it is possible to maintain our common historical monuments. If there is an interest.

In February 2000 in a fire there burned down the roof of the Master house. After the fire, surveying the building, it became clear that the building originally had a mansard roof, which was replaced with a double-pitched roof in the 19th century, possibly after some previous fire.

In 2001-2002, on the building there was laid a temporary roofing (roof pasteboard) after a hasty developed project in which the node solutions were either not fully developed or made in disregard of the traditional construction techniques.

 

After several years, after the change of the building manager (at the moment it is the association "Oleri Manor"), there was a chance to lay the roof tile covering. As an expert, to assess the state of the building at that time, there was invited Dr. sc. ing. Aigars Udris. It turned out that the roof structures were made carelessly, not only ignoring the building structure of the historical mansard floor and possible loads, but also the professional sills of the builders themselves could be much better – peg connections were not detected, but the vast number of metal staples and nails. We faced a great question to decide on – either to continue work by strengthening the existing structure (which technically was possible), or by using the existing construction elements, to reconstruct the roof anew. After numerous discussions it was decided to carry out a full reconstruction, stressing the need, while thinking about sustainable development, to leave to our children our environment at least as good as the one we have received from our parents.

 

The reconstruction of the roof of the Master house of Oleri Manor, with the support of LEADER project, was launched in October 2012 and completed in March 2014.

 

The principal requirement of the customer was the reconstruction of the roof applying the traditional construction techniques and technologies of the late 18th century.

As a result, the roof construction is set up in perfect joinery quality - all wood joints are connected using pegs, the profile of the building eave was made with hand planers, any connection places of two wooden elements are impregnated with tar, etc.

Following these principles there were specially prepared 15.2 M (cross-section 14x20 cm) long beams to cover the mansard floor. It is fair to say that the embedding of the required for the first-floor ceiling 19 m long beam (cross section 36 x 25 cm) in a single piece was not considered even at the design stage, because it was clear that trees of such size in the nearby forests could no longer be found, as well as there were also taken into account the far higher installation costs. At present, the longest are 11 m (32 x 25 cm) long beams in the entrance hall.

While planning the work, it was decided to carry out the replacement of the roof in two stages - both for the building for a shortest possible time to remain roofless, and also because it was projected to use a large part of the built-in wood materials in the new construction.

The roof structures were prepared on the ground at the site next to the building. Work related to stonework (brick lath embedding, strengthening of the load-bearing walls, chimney construction) was scheduled for the summer, while at the wooden structures it was possible to work throughout the year.

Great care was given to the façade elements - window constructions and eaves. As a window sample there was taken a roof window of the 18th century from Vidzeme (gift of Juris Zviedrans). When producing replicas there was used a recovered glass of 2 to 3 mm thick. As a part of the window hinges there were used the historical ones, the missing ones were ordered at the blacksmith’s.

Finally I would like to mention that currently in Latvia the understanding of the need to use the traditional construction techniques for historic buildings is accelerating. As some examples I could mention Tasi, Arendole, Erini, Vilksala and Ermani Manors, where there is being held a purposeful, sensible and hasteless restoration work

 

 

Mg.art. Karlis Zemitis

The association "Oleri Manor"

Architect – Kristine Veinberga ph: 29413796

Builder - "Ekers" Ltd. Uldis Boss ph.: 29420116

Construction Supervisor - Janis Vigups ph.: 29277264

Window construction - restoration and replicas "Zalas pedas" Ltd., ph.: 29251565