Restoring a Heritage Property: What Not to Do

A historic or listed building is one which is considered one of national or even
international importance, whether this be down to its architecture or its history.
According to the charity SAVE Britain’s Heritage, there are currently around 1500 of
these properties in the UK, with at least 100 being added each year.
Historic property renovation has become somewhat of a hobby for many people in the
property development industry. Such a project requires not only hard work, but the
knowledge to understand how to avoid costly mistakes. These are buildings that come
with restraints, and in a lot of cases, even minor changes to the exterior may not be
possible. It is not something to go into lightly.

Patching Up vs Replacing

While it may seem like a small hole in the wall or a tiny crack in the bricks can be
patched up easily, this is often the first sign of a much bigger problem that will demand
a lot more time, attention, and money if you let it progress. For instance, cracks can
highlight issues with the building’s foundation, and crumbling bricks may be a sign that
the structure needs to be reinforced by a professional.

Irreparable Damage

There are heritage buildings that have not been lived in or used for decades, sometimes
even centuries. When these properties were designed and built, they were done so with
materials that are irreplaceable. That means today’s physical and chemical construction
tools will permanently damage or destroy parts of the building. Using the correct tools is
paramount to the success of your restoration.

Inappropriate Additions

One of the most common pitfalls in heritage property restoration is unwelcome
additions. Modern or historically inaccurate additions to the building will undoubtedly
mean that it loses some of its historical value. Removing elements of the building can
also have the same effect. If you want to make changes that are described as ‘Material
Changes’ (such as taking out a wall or removing a chimney breast) you must apply to
your Local Authority for consent. However, in many instances, changes to things such
as windows and doors can be done if you don’t disrupt the overall character of the
building. The Benenden Conservation Range by The Heritage Window Company accurately
replicates the appearance of traditional steel windows, while delivering exceptional
performance.

Modern Building Codes

Safety is the number one reason that modern building codes exist but what you must
remember is that these have been formulated with today’s construction methods and

materials in mind. Heritage buildings were built very differently, therefore overcoming
certain building codes to prevent any irreparable damage to the building may require
some creative thinking on your part.