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  • Marc Tate

Buildings of Bungaroosh

A rather comical sounding name of Hindi origin, bungaroosh is a building material rarely seen outside of Brighton. It has a reputation for being a pain in the backside if your property has walls made from it and legend has it that people used all sorts of random stuff they found on the beach as components of bungaroosh when building. While bungaroosh was often made of cast off material and some very strange things have been found in bungaroosh walls, the use of detritus seems to be slightly exaggerated and this most Brighton of materials does seem to have, against all the odds, survived the test of time.


What is Bungaroosh?


Essentially, bungaroosh is gravel, flint pieces, bits of brick and stone held together with lime and sand mortar. It was a very cheap material as it was mostly comprised of things like flint removed from farmers’ fields and stones and sand from the beach. Popular in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, building with it consisted of creating a kind of wooden cast in the shape you wanted then pouring the bungaroosh in and waiting for it to set. As it is quite a soft material, bungaroosh walls are often supported by timber framework.


Problems Found in Bungaroosh Properties


Garden walls all around Brighton and Hove are made of bungaroosh but there are also prestigious Regency properties in smart addresses like Adelaide Crescent, Brunswick and Sussex Square and Marine Parade made of that material. People living in properties with bungaroosh walls often find that drilling into the walls can be interesting as they are either almost too easy to drill into or impossible as the lime mortar is very soft but pieces of flint are very hard indeed. Lime based mortars can be very porous and the sand in bungaroosh can cause particle wear meaning damp can be a serious issue in walls made of this material. Unfortunately, given that this is a material almost exclusive to Brighton and Hove, bungaroosh can also be vulnerable to wear from salt which may be why buildings such as those in Brunswick Square require so much maintenance that it is part of the covenants of the lease on those buildings to keep to a very strict and specific maintenance schedule.


Working with Bungaroosh


An absolute rule when working on walls made of bungaroosh is to never repair them with modern cement. This leads to far more problems than it solves. Marc sees all kinds of problems with cracking and damp getting in because a bungaroosh wall has been patched up with modern cement which doesn’t bind to bungaroosh very well and is very hard and solid while bungaroosh is soft and flexible. Listed properties have stipulations where you need to repair or replace anything made of lime based materials with lime based materials anyway but this is very important with bungaroosh as non-lime based renders and mortars don’t ‘breathe’ and flex the way lime based ones do so exacerbate problems such as cracking, crumbling and damp.


As a Brighton and Hove based surveyor, Marc has a great deal of experience in dealing with properties built using bungaroosh. He can advise you on the appropriate way to tackle issues related to it and discuss any potential problems you could face with bungaroosh walls. To talk to Marc about properties made of any type of material, please get in touch on 01273 281624 or email info@tatesurveyingservices.co.uk.

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