Restoration of the building took place in 2004-5 and was a comprehensive repair of the fabric, structure and all of the common parts and included replacements, overhauls or upgrades of all the common services.
The Major Works included:
- Repair of the entire concrete fabric and renewal of all external rendered finishes.
- Replacement of all windows with new specialist powder coated galvanised windows.
- Replacement of the hot water system with new individual boiler systems to each flat.
- Removal of the roof level water tanks and provision of a pumped water system.
- Cleaning repair and/or replacement of all external plumbing and rainwater pipework.
- Installation of new fire alarm system to common parts.
- Renewal of front doors to the original 1936 design.
- Replacement of electrical mains systems to common parts and renewal of lighting.
- New duct for telephone cables.
- Renewed lighting protection system.
- Renewal of entry door system.
- Overhaul and upgrading of passenger lifts.
- Repair and renewal of asphalt roof surfaces, coating with solar reflective paint.
- Preparation and redecoration of all previously decorated surfaces.
- Repair and renewal of all exterior handrails and balustrading.
- Application of a new waterproof surface to exterior walkways.
- Repair and replacement of tiled sills on front balconies.
- Resurfacing vehicle access ramp.
- Replacement of all signage.
- False ceilings to conceal new services.
The Concrete repairs were carried out by one of the leading specialists in the field; Makers Ltd. The entire concrete surface was grit-blasted to remove paint and loose render. This was followed by a detailed survey of the condition of the concrete. It was hammer tested and sampled at regular intervals for carbonation and chloride contamination. Electronic tests were made to assess the depth of reinforcement.
All concrete designated as defective was chipped out. Where corroded reinforcement was found it was either grit-blasted to remove rust scale and other corrosion products or, where necessary replaced. The surfaces were treated with a corrosion inhibitor, and repaired using techniques to ensure proper compaction and bonding.
The whole surface was then re-rendered with sand and cement to match the original render. Three coatings were then applied, a levelling mortar, a SikaGard primer and finally a flexible “elastomeric” anti-carbonisation paint . These latter finishes made the concrete very considerably more resistant to the most common sources of deterioration and corrosion than it had been at any time in its life.
All the old Critall steel framed glazing was removed and new windows and doors were purpose made to the exact patterns of the originals. (The doors being those from the flats to the exterior balconies). The steel frames were rust-proofed after manufacture using “hot dip” galvanisation and coated with uniform polyester paint powder. Some leaseholders took the opportunity to replace the casement windows in the main bedrooms with casement doors so that the bedrooms could open onto the balconies. 14mm double glazing was used in the windows and doors in the flats, windows in other parts of the block were single glazed.
Many of the window settings were damaged by corrosion in the old window frames. General repairs to the concrete fabric were carried out first and then the windows removed. If repairs to the surrounds were required then temporary screens were erected inside the flats. Repairs to the window surrounds could then be made and new windows installed prior to the final application of levelling and protective coatings to the exterior concrete fabric.
Window replacement was probably the most difficult and invasive process of the whole restoration programme, especially since Embassy Court’s flats were in full occupation throughout the refurbishment.
The old system of basement boilers and integral risers was drained and decommissioned. Three of the six lift shafts were given over to the installation of individual gas boilers for each adjacent flat with flues onto the open walkways. New hot water pipes were installed on the roof of the lift lobbies to connect the individual boilers to the flats and hidden above a false ceiling. This system was the overwhelming choice of leaseholders, a similar system was adopted for the refurbishment of Wells Coates’ Isokon flats in Hampstead.
The original system of roof tanks and integral pipework was drained and, where possible, removed. An entirely new system was installed including, on the lower ground floor, glass reinforced partitioned plastic water tanks and four pumps providing constant water pressure through risers in the three decommissioned lift shafts and connected to the flats via the roof spaces in the lift lobbies. All water pipes are in insulated copper.
Many of the rainwater drainage and soil pipes were replaced on a like for like basis using cast iron pipework. New joints to services in the flats were also provided in cast iron or copper.