Conservation in Practice

Buildings will be subject to decay and deterioration over time due to everyday usage by the occupants, neglect, weathering and climate conditions. To keep the fabric of a building in good order and to limit deterioration ongoing maintenance is required.

It is best carried out as part of a planned and scheduled routine with regular inspections and early action to prevent or remedy defects.

This pro-active approach can be seen as an imposition but it will save time and money, proving highly cost effective when compared with taking action only when problems have arisen.

A programme of regular inspection to observe defects at an early stage and making minor repairs promptly is the fundamental principle that underpins a sound conservation approach and will safeguard the integrity of building and the well being of occupants, visitors and the wider public.

In addition to a well planned program of ongoing maintenance, from time to time other repairs will inevitably be required. These are likely to be a consequence of damage or decay to the building fabric. Additionally, any changes in the way the building is being used and measures aimed at enhanced sustainability may also be undertaken.

A key aspect of this work is the protection of the significance attached to the building. Often buildings deteriorate due to lack of use – vacant buildings are more likely to suffer from neglect. Sometimes the use of the building may need to be adapted to ensure its ongoing viability, thereby helping to preserve significance.

An assessment of significance requires the identification of the values that are attached to the building, for example, intrinsically, historically, socially and culturally. This enables a suitable programme of repair to be planned that respects and maintains the values, thereby preserving the significance. Inappropriate repairs can have damaging, irretrievable consequences.

Restoration of a building is sometimes considered to return it to a provable earlier specification, only where substantive and verifiable evidence is available and where no speculation is involved. 

For this to be viable the restoration must not detract from the heritage values of the building. This will normally only be possible if the existing format of the building is not considered to be of significance. Additionally the work must not diminish or detract from the previous building planform or adversely affect sustainability.

Restoration is often thought appropriate where existing elements of a building have more seriously deteriorated. If these elements are fundamental to the significance of the building a strategy of repair will usually be the preferred option. However, where elements of a building are missing and thereby allowing other parts of the structure to suffer consequential damage, restoration of the missing element can be seen as an acceptable means of conservation. In addition, by preventing ongoing deterioration it creates a more viable and sustainable future for the building.

More information about historic buildings and their conservation can be found on the following websites

Jeremy Richardson – AssocRICS, MRPSA, DRSV, CPEA, BA Hons – BCR Surveyors

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Courses & Awards

  • BA (Hons) History & Landscape Archaeology
  • Understanding Building Conservation – endorsed by English Heritage
  • Project Management and Supervision: Historic and Traditional Buildings
  • Energy Efficiency Measures for Older and Traditional Buildings
  • Repair and Maintenance of Traditional (pre-1919) Buildings
  • Understanding Heritage Impact Assessments
  • Diploma in Residential Surveying & Valuation

Memberships

  • Member of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings
  • Affiliate Member of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation
  • Associate Member of Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (AssocRICS)
  • Member of the Residential Property Surveyors Association
  • Member of the Weald and Downland Museum
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