The Reconstruction of Le Cormier

Reconstruction Overview

When we first saw Le Cormier, it was summer. The whole house was totally overgrown and the barn had begun to fall apart. The reconstruction of Le Cormier was a challenge. The rules governing reconstruction demanded then (and still do today) that the house and barn be rebuilt to appear as they once did when new. This meant that each building had to be partially disassembled by hand (the roof and floor), bad sections replaced, walls repaired in place, and then the house had to be totally reassembled. It would have been easier to build entirely new structures.

We believe that the first walls of the house (the Willow Suite) were initially put up sometime in the 1700s. The house was built following a standard used then for building. The houses were typically six meters wide on the inside (seven meters outside), accommodating the strength of 30 centimeter beams to carry the weight of the attic (or grenier) above. Each room was typically three meters wide. Total house length pretty much depended on the needs of the farm family. As the family grew, rooms were added. So houses would be six meters wide by three, six, nine or more meters long. Le Cormier started as a three meter house (with a three meter open air kitchen on the west side) and eventually grew to 42 meters long.

New Roof

There was no foundation under the walls then, nor were there moisture or thermal barriers under the floors. The interior terra cotta tiles were laid on a layer of moist sand. Inside was undoubtedly cold, damp and musty. The process of reconstruction, then, left the main walls and roof beams in place while everything else was removed (floor, some interior walls, and the entire roof). The removed portions were then replaced using modern methods and a mix of modern and old materials.

Reconstruction entailed replacing crumbling beams and wall sections and removing and replacing rotten roof rafters. Old floors were replaced by a layer of polystyrene foam (thermal barrier), a layer of plastic (moisture barrier) and a thick subfloor of cement. The utilities were laid in place. Then this was all topped by another layer of cement and tile (or wood). The walls that remained - each 50 centimeters or 19 1/2 inches thick - were picked clean with special hammers and re-grouted with a modern cement mixture, leaving the faces of the stone showing. This was done to the walls inside and out.

The barn (or Grange) was worked on first. It was in very bad shape. It's roof had virtually collapsed and it's walls were beginning to crumble. On the left you can see it in the midst of repair.

Next, the suites were rebuilt. Crumbling half walls and the small extension on the north side were demolished. A foundation was poured for these walls (the standing walls remained as they were). The extensions and the half walls were made whole and were rebuilt using modern construction block .

The roof was torn down and completely rebuilt. The old roof tiles were painstakingly removed, one at a time, and replaced after new rafters and laths were installed. The old floor was dug up and a subfloor poured over the thermal and moisture barriers.

Finally, the main house was rebuilt. This part of the house had actually been used as a more modern barn and a carport. The barn section had feeding troughs for horses and other, smaller, animals - presumably goats, pigs and sheep. This section was about 54 feet long and has become our kitchen and great room. The car port was totally rebuilt from the ground up and now houses the guest half-bath and the master bedroom. Read on for more detail ...