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Argh! Ideas for dead space outside?

(7 Posts)
TronaldDump Sun 28-May-17 10:21:55

To the side of our house is a stone wall - the gap between house and wall must be about 50cm - just enough to walk down but not really room to move or do much. The wall is about 4ft high so it's a real dead space.

It's currently concreted but I think the lack of drainage is causing issues as the internal walls have recently become a bit damp at the bottom. I want to see if I can manage to swing a pick and break up the concrete slowly - but I'm not sure what I'd do in the space instead. I guess we could put in some kind of French drain, perhaps, or put down a membrane and gravel it? I'm reluctant to leave earth or plant it up as there wouldn't be room to get in and weed it properly.

Has anyone experienced similar or do you have any ideas?

PigletJohn Sun 28-May-17 10:32:22

"internal walls have recently become a bit damp at the bottom"

does the room have a concrete floor?

Do gutters leak onto the passage? Does it hold puddles?

How old is the house, and does it have a damp course?

TronaldDump Sun 28-May-17 10:39:03

Oh hello PigletJohn! The house is very old (350 years) and yes, sadly someone concreted over the original flags in the 90s and there's carpet on top.

No gutters leak but it's a pinch point for water flowing downhill. No puddles that I notice when it's raining.

No damp course - the walls are exposed inside and about 3ft thick.

Suggestions welcome!

PigletJohn Sun 28-May-17 11:07:34

then I would be inclined to dig it out (below floor level in the adjoining room) and remake it so water can flow down the middle past the house, to some drain or soakaway away from the house. So the path will be somewhat dished to the middle. I don't think it needs to be a surface encouraging water to soak in.

Lowering the ground level will expose more wall to dry out by evaporation. If it was brick, about a foot would do.

If there is no gutter or drain fault, and you can lead away the flowing water, you should not have much to deal with. I think you need to treat it as a path for access to the house, not fill it with plants or pots.

When excavating, see what else you find. For example there might be an old pipe, or a cavity that collects water beside the house wall, or a downpipe pouring water into the gap.

I am not familiar with thick stone walls, a wrinkly local builder or conservation officer will have more experience. You should probably avoid concrete or cement mortar.

TronaldDump Sun 28-May-17 12:24:16

Thanks PigletJohn - will have a look and see if there's room to swing the pick now!

PigletJohn Sun 28-May-17 12:26:27

wiggle the end of the pick under the edge of the concrete and lever it up. It will probably crack off in a manageable piece. If not, thump it with a sledge to start a crack.

bojorojo Sun 28-May-17 13:27:36

And post a video of you doing it!!! Good luck!

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