There are almost half a million buildings in the UK that have heritage protection. Many of these buildings have put opening strategies in place since lockdown has eased, with social distancing in effect which may reduce the number of visitors. However, not all historic buildings are open to the public, and many have also become offices, hotels and restaurants or are in private ownership.
No matter the use of the building, their status can often mean maintenance and renovation is complicated – with regulation requiring many of the premises’ original features to be preserved. Peter Cox has been able to continue essential repair work throughout the lockdown period, and we have maintained the stringent hygiene standards put in place to prevent the spread of Coronavirus as lockdown is eased. This includes industry-leading risk assessment procedures, protection of colleagues with Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as well as critical onsite safety measures.
Here we’ll discuss why, if you suspect an issues such as water ingress, fungal decay, woodworm or structural damage to your property, you shouldn’t delay calling in experts.
A restoration case study
We are able to offer preservation solutions that cover an entire building – from the basement to the roof. Recently, we completed an extensive timber survey on a heritage building used for student accommodation in Liverpool.
On inspection of the site, we discovered a number of issues that needed to be addressed, including fungal decay and woodworm. Wood boring insects (often referred to as woodworm) can be found in timber beams and floorboards within properties, and if left untreated can even threaten the structural integrity of a building if the timbers affected form part of the overall support structure.
Fungal decay is often caused when water ingress is left untreated. Damp creates an environment that allows fungal spores to grow, which ultimately leads to the wood rotting and decay. Like woodworm, decay can cause larger structural issues that make a building unsafe for use.
Ensuring the building is safe for use
Fortunately, we were able to identify and raise these issues with site planners and building contractors to ensure they were effectively addressed from the outset of the project. We provided the site manager with a comprehensive list of defects and repairs, which became part of the schedule of works. We were then able to work with onsite teams to ensure these were completed to the highest standard.
To protect the affected timber from further woodworm issues, timber spray treatments were carried out. Where timber was damaged beyond repair, it was replaced in keeping with the original design of the building.
We also completed the installation of a damp proof course to prevent rising damp from further damaging the fabric of the building and new plasterwork.
While on site Peter Cox were able to spec a basement waterproofing design package. As basements are below the water table they are often vulnerable to hydrostatic pressure caused by water in the ground and should therefore be designed to deal with these issues. The pressure can lead to cracks, leaks and eventually damp problems that can cause significant structural damage. For this reason, we ensured basement waterproofing work was completed to the highest British Standard BS8102 to ensure the building is now protected and preserved from the bottom up.
The safety of staff, contractors and the wider community is our priority at Peter Cox. As the site reopened during lockdown, we ensured that we followed every step to ensure health and safety was prioritised. This meant thorough risk assessment procedures were carried out, including the consideration of social distancing and what facilities could be used at any one time, as well as ensuring all employees onsite had the appropriate RPE and PPE.
The maintenance and upkeep of historic buildings can be difficult if not managed carefully and meticulously. Peter Cox are experts in completing work on heritage sites to the highest standard, to ensure history is preserved and buildings are safe to use for future generations. We can help with problems such as rising and penetrating damp, woodworm infestations, fungal decay, structural repairs and basement waterproofing. Whether you own a listed building in need of restoration or a property in disrepair, get in touch with the specialists who can help to advise you on the next steps.
By Catherine Hill, National Commercial Manager