Here are some helpful tips to living in an old building.
Understand your building before undertaking any works to your building. Appreciate how it works and performs. (See: Why old buildings are different).
Respect its age and character - including the quality of the materials and craftsmanship in the building.
Appreciate what all that is significant about your building - don't remove any of the historical fabric without first consulting the Local Planning Authority Conservation Officer. Gradual erosion of historic fabric will eventually dilute the character and special interest of the building to future owners and generations.
Regularly inspect and maintain your building. Timely, and appropriate, maintenance will prevent serious and more costly problems at a later stage.
|Rainwater goods are easily unblocked or repaired, but can cause serious problems if ignored|
Make contact with your local Conservation Officer. Conservation Officers can provide practical advice, guidance and information - such a list of suitable professionals and contractors in your area, as well as advising you about planning rules and regulations.
Attend courses for homeowners on the care and repair of historic buildings . Some societies and groups, such as the SPAB, organise courses specially tailored for homeowners.
Use builders who are experienced in using traditional materials and working on old buildings. Ask if they know the difference between cement and lime. Go and see examples of their work and obtain references.
Make sure that any repairs address the causes of a problem and do not just treat the symptoms (e.g. investigate why the walls are damp instead of inserting a damp-proof course to treat dampness caused by high external ground levels or a leaking gutter).
|Injected damp proof courses (DPCs) attempt to hold back dampness that is often better tackled at source. DPCs injected into masonry will not be successful and cause irreparable disfiguration.|
Historic buildings are highly individual. Your building is unique, each repair needs to be designed for the building, avoid the use of standard methods of repair.
|Repointing of the soft stonework in this building with cement mortar has led to rapid deterioration of the stone|
Seek independent advice, don't rely purely on the advice of people who have a vested interest in their own recommendations e.g. timber and damp treatment contractors (See: Do's and Dont's ).
Be extremely careful when carrying out alterations to an old building. Modern comfort standards can in many cases be achieved but require great care to minimise the disturbance and to retain as much of the original fabric as possible. Professional advice can be particularly valuable in this area.
Remember old buildings need to breathe (See: Why traditional buildings are different ).
Don't be afraid to ask - there are plenty of people with a passion for old buildings that are willing to assist you in understanding your old building and to put you in contact with professionals and builders who understand and appreciate old buildings , e . g . The Society for Protection of Ancient Buildings, Georgian Group and Victorian Society (See: Links )
|A building that has a healthy future thanks to appropriate repair|
Treat every old building as special and unique. Pass it onto future generations in a sound and maintainable condition.