My friend and building partner, Mike, came to visit Durham this weekend with his girlfriend, Jessica. The two of them will (hopefully) be moving down here in May to stay for at least 6 months so that Mike can help me build the house for my parents (and Jessica is a massage therapist - a great connection for any building team).
Mike and I built the cottage at Pickard's Mountain together 18 months ago, and so we stopped by to see how it was aging. The foundation, plaster, and roof were all looking in really good shape.
The area that needs attention is the windowsills on the south side. We put a lime plaster on the sill, which you can see is holding up really well. But we should have extended the lime around the edge further, because the earthen plaster (which is less durable) is wearing away right where the two plasters meet. The black lines are the shadows from a string trellis that Margaret built in front of the south-facing windows for beans to climb up - the idea being that: 1. she likes beans, and 2. the bean plants will shade the window during the hot summer, and then die off and let sunlight in for warmth during the winter.
You can see how the earthen plaster is weathering near the bottom of the wall. This isn't a bad thing. It's just how it goes. A new plaster should be applied within 4 or 5 years (or sooner, for aesthetic consideration). You can see why it's a good idea to plaster over cob - not just for looks, but as a barrier to take the force of the weather, so that the structural cob doesn't have to. The cob underneath is staying dry and in perfect shape, and will continue to do so for at least 860 years, when the foundation might finally fail.