Highest quality conservation and restoration

29 May , 2020  

A first-rate contractor synonymous with high-quality craftsmanship, CK Roofing & Carpentry Ltd. (CKRC) invariably delivers a high-end finish on time and within budget. Building Ireland travelled to County Wexford and touched base with founder / proprietor Ciaran Kelly to find out more about this exceptional, industry-leading operation which excels in restoration, conservation and construction.

Established in 2007 with the intention of specialising in high-quality, complex renovation, restoration and sustainable solutions for listed, heritage and landmark buildings – as well as modern buildings – CK Roofing & Carpentry has gone from strength to strength during the intervening twelve years and counting, firmly establishing itself as a proven market leader in founder Ciaran Kelly’s chosen specialist areas.

Key to the company’s continued success and growth is the highly-experienced and dedicated crew of skilled craftsmen Ciaran has assembled, each of them capable of sustaining local heritage by using compatible materials as well as respecting the environment and history of the buildings they work on.

Passionate about renovation and restoration, all crew members are rigorously trained and continuously upskilled. They are fully familiar with traditional materials compatible with these buildings and have accumulated in-depth knowledge of their unique, specialist methods and techniques, developing their craft over time to an expert level. The craftsmen who represent CKRC are extremely mindful and respectful of the built heritage sites where they work, taking painstaking care when delivering the job at hand.

Complementing skill and experience, patience is another vital virtue: “It’s time consuming and patience is a huge factor because, in order to do the work properly, some of the materials you use are slow,” Ciaran confirms. “People tend to think of old grey-haired men when they think of conservation and restoration, but we have a very young crew, with apprentices coming along who have a great interest in this line of work.

“I’m passionate about it myself and the staff share that passion. You can take a lot more personal pride from it. Having the experience to work with old buildings is a market that a lot of people wouldn’t appreciate the importance of, but it plays a very important role in how some of our most historic buildings perform.”

Where did Ciaran get his own interest and expertise from? “I learned a lot through Paddy Byrne, a very good friend of mine. He provided me with excellent guidance from the off and you then do your own research and learn your trade over the years. Knowledge is vital, knowing what you are doing.

“Due to a lack of knowledge, there was a lot of intervention with cements on old buildings in the past and the damage that was done is coming to the forefront now. People are starting to realise the importance of using old materials and moving more slowly. Of course, this isn’t always possible because sometimes it can work out prohibitively expensive, but the reality is that you have to use traditional lime mortars on old buildings.

“These were built with thicker walls, which allowed a certain amount of water to go through. The first 150mm of the wall could get wet and then dry out again without the water penetrating the building. When it comes to renovating and restoring old buildings, the goal is to improve the performance of the building whilst retaining the character. With experience, you know how to approach this.” 

Some of the high-profile projects carried out by CKRC down through the years include Presbyterian and Methodist Church, Enniscorthy; Community Hall, Poulpeasty; Johnstown Castle, St Iberius Church Wexford; Ballyhealy Castle; Ballysampson House, Tagoat; St Magdalen’s Church, Kilmyshall; and The Franciscan Friary, Wexford.

“Recognising the importance of compatible materials is crucial,” Ciaran stresses. “Modern materials don’t work well with old buildings so the use of compatible materials is vital in helping these buildings perform. We use compatible, old materials and we treat the old buildings with the utmost respect because you want to restore these buildings to the point where they will perform for another century to come.”

A company with a proven track record in conservation, restoration and construction, CK Roofing & Carpentry carries out many projects in public areas, some in hazardous conditions. Particular emphasis is placed on Health & Safety to ensure the absolute safety at all times of crew, the client, client’s employees and the general public.  Health & Safety Plans are meticulously enforced, unique and site-specific.

As standard, all crew members are Safe Pass certified, carry relevant SOLAS Construction Skills Certification Scheme Cards and current manual handling and abrasive wheel training as well as being IPAF certified (PAL) and certified in occupational First Aid.

Proud to stand over its excellent Health & Safety record, the company has invested heavily in specialised equipment in order to safely work at height, including specialised roof access equipment, which provides a working platform to a height of 21 metres.  Extensive roof coverings and hoardings enable the crew to continue working in all weather conditions. In the interest of preservation and sustainability, every layer of work is weatherproofed.

Affiliated members of Heritage Contractors, the Construction Industry Federation, ASCA, CIRI and the Irish Georgian Society, CK Roofing & Carpentry Ltd have developed their skills with traditional materials over the last decade, working with specialist craftsmen to repair and restore buildings to their former glory.

Much of their work comprises restoration projects on historic buildings that are in daily use. Common problems encountered include water ingress, damp, rotted woodwork and corroded metal – all major threats to the safe use of the building. Commonly, Ciaran finds inappropriate repairs particularly where cement plaster has been used over lime-based mortar sealing what was previously a ‘breathing’ wall, trapping moisture which in turn has generally caused more damage to the underlying brickwork.

His work focuses on restoring the building to its original state using traditional matching materials guided by the general principles of conservation making the building safe to use once more. In using traditional methods and materials, CKRC ensure the building is preserved for future generations to enjoy.

In all CKRC’s conservation work, they aim to abide by the principles of conservation and best practice which are to: respect the property and its part in our heritage; be familiar with the philosophy of conserving and restoring built heritage; be familiar with legislation specific to conservation and restoration in addition to standard legislation relating to construction; perform adequate investigation in advance of commencing any project; minimise intervention to any part of the property; support preventive conservation; respect the principle of reversibility; use matching materials wherever possible; appoint experienced specialists as required; record all work from start to finish; ensure appropriate professional supervision is provided by their team.

With a highly-skilled, versatile and dedicated team, CK Roofing & Carpentry also offer a high-end construction service to both the residential and commercial sector, providing high-quality one-off hi-end residential homes and structures. Boasting extensive knowledge of many different areas of roofing and installation systems such as flat roofing, slate roofing, lead roofing, chimneys and Velux windows, they oversee building projects from start to finish and can also offer advice on design and fittings.

A roofing and carpentry contractor since 1996, Ciaran has been running his own business for more than two decades, since he was 21. Reflecting on the genesis of CK Roofing & Carpentry, he continues: “As the name suggests, we were roofing and carpentry contractors originally and we had a good crew at the height of the Celtic Tiger. I was looking for something with more of a challenge and I always had an interest in old buildings, so I went into conservation, restoration and construction around ’05 / ’06 and it took off. We went limited in ’07.

“We actually do very little carpentry and roofing now, except on our own projects. We’re full-time contractors but having that carpentry background offers a good insight into other trades. You can recognise good tradesmen and bad tradesmen and you have a good eye for quality.”

Ciaran told me that there are three basic starting keys to any restoration project: “You have to get the roof right, get the gutters right and be able to get water away from the foot of the building,” he reveals. Those are the three things you start with – the roof, the rainwater system and surface water discharge – and if you deal with those fundamentals first you are well on your way.”

Benefiting from a steady volume of repeat business, CK Roofing & Carpentry have a busy Q3 and Q4 2019 ahead. Gainful employment is currently generated for a team of twelve and Ciaran has no desire to get any bigger if it means compromising the high-quality services for which CKRC is renowned:

“We wouldn’t like to spread ourselves too thin because you could lose control of the quality factor,” he concludes. “That’s why we keep it to three or four projects at a time. That’s as much as we can handle because quality remains to the forefront and we never want to get to that stage where the quality is compromised.”

CK Roofing & Carpentry Ltd. (CKRC),

Redshire Road,


County Wexford.

Tel: 053 9164942

Mobile:  086 2336165

Web: ckrc.ie

This article was published in Building Ireland Magazine, November 2019, Vol 5 No 10