Case Study: Farmer’s Row Almshouses – Roof Project

Part of the service The Almshouse Association offers it’s member charities is to help support them with grants or loans if they do not have sufficient funds to carry out necessary works to their almshouses.

Farmer and Lemmion-Cannon Charity applied to The Almshouse Association for a loan of £100,000 to support the extensive roof repairs needed on their almshouses. Now that the work is complete, the trustees have kindly put together a case study to demonstrate how the funds have been spent and the difference it’s made to their residents’ lives.

Farmer’s Row is a row of 10 small almshouse cottages (five ground floor and five first floor) that provide single living accommodation to residents.  It is named after James Farmer, a local businessman and philanthropist, who originally constructed them as charity houses circa 1850.  He left the row of cottages to provide accommodation to local elderly people who are in need of affordable accommodation.

Prior to works

The cottages have grade II listed status meaning that care is needed when undertaking works.  This also limits the type of work that is permitted, and leads to high cost maintenance and upgrading.  Occupancy levels are high and the cottages are in high demand.  The main source of income for the charity is weekly maintenance contribution income from the properties.

Due to age, the roof was in need of significant attention. 

Various repairs had been made in recent years but it was becoming increasingly expensive to repair. 

Water ingress had become commonplace affecting not only the roof structure itself but the upper floors of the cottages, and impacting on the quiet enjoyment of the residents.

Having assessed the various options open to them to rectify the problems, it was decided that the installation of a completely new roof was the best and most economical way forward.  This would safeguard the future integrity of the building structure, improve the living experience for residents and, over time, be the most cost effective resolution. 

Various quotes were received and it was decided to instruct a local roofer, which was also in the spirit of using local tradespeople and therefore benefiting the locality – reflecting the intention of James Farmer to help the local community.

The windows and the roof are expensive projects; the quote for the windows stood at approximately £30,000 – £60,000, depending on the requirements of the planning authority and the roof works were estimated to cost £130,000.  While the charity has funds held in reserve, to undertake both of these major projects using reserves would not have been viable.  The roof became the urgent project.

The trustees had been actively looking for grants for expensive upgrading work required for all windows at the properties and they were able to secure £10,000 from a community fund at East Midlands Airport, which is nearby, but no other grant applications were successful. 

They then applied for a loan from The Almshouse Association and received a loan of £100,000.  This allowed the roof works to be undertaken in full in late 2023 and also means that it is likely that the windows can be replaced in stages over the next 2-3 years. 

The Charity writes that,

“This support has been nothing short of utterly game changing and will be instrumental in ensuring these expensive, but important projects are completed in good time.  Not only will this safeguard the future of the building, it will also enable the trustees to agree a long term financial strategy to ensure this sought after low cost accommodation is preserved for the community for many years to come.”

The Charity advises that the work went largely according to plan, which was the result of significant due diligence and survey work undertaken prior to commencement. It included

  • major scaffolding
  • removal of the roof
  • replacing all wood work
  • installing a new breathable membrane under the tiles
  • installing new tiles
  • remediation work to chimneys where necessary
  • flashing, guttering and ridge tiling
  • new insulation in the roof space.

Apart from the roof, the thermal performance of the building has been enhanced with the insulation and membrane.  This will benefit residents in that it will cost less to heat the building.

The residents were very appreciative of the work undertaken and the trustees received many favourable comments.  The local Parish Council was made aware and were supportive of the project. 

The finished roof