Advice & Considerations for Heritage Building Restoration
Taking on a restoration project for a heritage building is unlike any other restoration as you have to consider the historical and cultural significance of the building and try your best to preserve its heritage and charm. It is this unique challenge which demands intense passion and dedication from the restorer. If restoring heritage buildings was straightforward and easy enough that it could be done by following generic guidelines and procedures then perhaps a lot of people would have tried their hands at restoration, but the truth is the condition of every historic building will be different and as a result, each building will require a different restoration process and plan. Hence, it’s important to understand and prepare for the challenges that you will face ahead in your restoration project.
The experts at Zero Defects offer a few words of advice and some tips on how to go about restoring a heritage building. This advice is further complemented by some of the most common challenges that people face while restoring heritage buildings so that you can avoid falling into the same pitfalls.
- Most heritage buildings are governed by some rules laid down by a Council or an authority. Before buying the property it is crucial to contact the relevant authorities and find out if there are any regulations related to restoring the building.
- History plays a significant role in the restoration process of a heritage building as a good knowledge of the building’s history will enable you to know about the construction techniques and materials used during the time period. It will also help you get an idea of the architecture prevalent during the specific time period.
- It is best to consult a local heritage architect to get more information about the process of restoring the building.
- Planning for such a big and significant project takes time and patience is the key here. Allow a time period of 1-2 years for planning before commencing the work. For best results always do a lot of research first before even thinking about commencing the actual work. Investigate. Ask a lot of people if you don’t know something.
- References and experiences of other heritage home owners are your best bet here. Ask other heritage home owners who have done restoration work for information about the workmen or contractors they used.
- As much as possible, treat directory listings of workmen or contractors with extreme care as you have no way to know how competent or experienced they are in restoration work. Look for references and get in touch with the owners who have done restoration work on their own house.
- Try to find the original buildings plan of our house so that you can have a good idea about how the house used to look in its heyday and you can compare it with the current structure.
- Each house as its own design quirks. Try to live for some time in the house if possible before starting the restoration work to get an idea of how weather conditions affect the house and you will get a better idea of how to proceed with the restoration.
- You should always begin with the foundations to ensure that they are structurally sound. A house with a bad foundation can never stand.
- Address the effects of weathering and environmental elements on the house. Every house deteriorates with time due to various factors like heat, cold, moisture etc. Also, take care to address the issue of water penetration before completing the exterior work as it will wreck havoc on the restored house if it is not addressed.
- As much as you would want to manage the restoration, don’t. You wouldn’t know enough about the technicalities of the process and would do more harm than good. Enlist the help of heritage specialist contractors, architects, workmen etc. to ensure satisfactory results.
- Cooperate with the relevant authorities and take proper permission wherever required to facilitate smooth and uninterrupted restoration. A little time spent cooperating will save you a lot of headache and trouble.
- Most important of all, you should care passionately about the cultural and historical significance of your house.
In addition to the above tips, here are the most frequent challenges that people face while restoring heritage buildings.
Doing irreparable harm to the building
The materials and tools used to build the building would have been vastly different from what we use today. So, it is extremely crucial to use the right tools and materials to avoid doing harm to the building and causing irreparable damage.
Repairing instead of replacing
Some seemingly minor issues like a crack or a loose brick might be signs of bigger problems with your building. So, take the help of specialists to fix these problems instead of guessing that it’s just a small repair issue.
Making historically inaccurate additions
In the race to make the building fully functional and liveable, people tend to make historically inaccurate additions to the building which makes it lose its historical significance. Take care to do proper research about the original building before deciding to make some extravagant changes.
Meeting modern building regulations
Regulations are meant to ensure safety, but current regulations might come in the way of your restoration as heritage building don’t follow the same regulations as buildings constructed just a few months ago. In this case, cooperating with local authorities and informing them about the significance of the building would be a big help to you.
Finding a competent restoration team
It cannot be stressed enough that choosing a team would be one of the most important decision you’ll make during the restoration process. It’s not easy to find a team which will ensure satisfactory results as most professionals are skilled in building and restoring modern buildings, but with enough research and patience nothing is impossible.
Get in touch with the team at Zero Defects today to schedule your no-obligation consultation or book your restoration project with us. Contact us to learn more or to request a free estimate.