Sustainable Legacy

By Cliff Blundell

Review by Eur Ing Michael Beare BSc CEng MICE FIStructE CARE ()

This is well-produced book with high quality photographs and illustrations, well-argued and easy to read. The book sets out the principles of how solid masonry buildings work; relying upon the transfer of moisture vapour through the wall.

The book is split into 3 sections and deals with the basic principles of a breathing house, the elements that make up the house, and case studies. Cliff sets out the basics of traditional designs and shows how ignoring these basics can result in an unbalanced building that does not sit well in its environment. Cliff rightly also concentrates on the importance of buildings being able to breath and he sets out the negative implications of inserting modern forms of construction such as concrete slabs and damp proof membranes into traditional breathing buildings.

The book makes the case for traditional forms of construction and lime washes rather than modern paints as well as floors that breathe rather than stopping moisture coming up through the ground.  What is said is of course right but also needs to be applied to the modern style of living, where we create a lot more water vapour from showers and modern cooking.

Modern building regulations have been developed to address the modern style of living and construction details but in doing so have created regulations that are not appropriate for traditional forms of construction. Cliff addresses these issues and in setting out the principles that need to be considered provides the reader with the tools necessary for them to create a pleasant, healthy environment.  He is not necessarily solving the householder’s challenges but by discussing why the old construction works and the modern does not work, it enables him come to a solution that stands a chance of working.

The book recommends the adoption of traditional layout, colour and design. If adopted the house will look right and with the right materials will perform properly. This does not say you should restrict yourself to a pastiche of old Welsh houses, it does however serve a warning that adding an extension is architecturally difficult and there are more failures than successes.

The case studies at the end of the book are interesting examples of projects that have been undertaken well. Undertaking refurbishments well is not a simple process and simply adding the word conservation to a modern commercial product does not mean that it is either a traditional material or is suitable for use.

Sustainable Legacyis a readable book introducing the beginner to the subject and reminding/questioning the expert about what he is doing.  I commend the book to both groups.

Sustainable Legacy is available from TLC Press, Bryn y Môr House, Cardigan SA43 1PA, for a special price for BLF members of £15 plus £2.50 postage and packing within the UK (email for the cost for P+P if outwith the UK). The price for non-members is £19.50

Become a member

Members of the Building Limes Forum form a community of lime enthusiasts and practitioners, most of whom are producers, suppliers, specifiers or users of lime.

Click to find out more

Useful documents

Contact Building Limes Forum

Building Limes Forum
Riddle’s Court
322 Lawnmarket
Edinburgh, EH1 2PG, UK

Contact Us