Britain is globally renowned for its historically significant architecture. Historic England estimates that there are as many as 500,000 listed buildings in England alone and Visit Britain research has found that the UK is ranked 4th out of 50 nations in terms of attractiveness of building heritage. This is a significant draw for tourists and has important flow-on effects to the economy.
Almost every town and village has a unique building with an Edwardian, Victorian or even Tudor twist. From churches, castles, train stations to stately homes, visitors love these historic structures for their stories and charm.
Renovating historic buildings
Upkeep and maintenance on more than half a million listed buildings in the country is a difficult task. As a result, many historic buildings that are no longer in use are renovated and updated to serve new purposes – such as community centres, retail spaces, restaurants or accommodation. There are benefits to this – they make attractive premises for new owners and ensure that these historic buildings continue to play a role in their community rather than falling into disrepair.
But these renovation projects require careful consideration to preserve the building’s heritage. Proper maintenance of these structures is paramount so that they can continue to be enjoyed by future generations. This is where Peter Cox comes in. Our surveyors and technicians are experts in the restoration and renovation of heritage buildings.
Taking historic building’s character into consideration
The history of each property is crucial to understand and each case must be assessed individually before undergoing a renovation or restoration project. For example, if a building has an array of different period styles then it can create a complex restoration process, while other buildings may consist of different materials, owing to various repair works that have taken place across their lifetime. Many, particularly stately homes, will have unique plaster details and ornate timber panelling in them which means careful consideration of the job to ensure the building retains its character.
For this reason, we have expertise in sourcing everything from lime plasters through to large sectioned reclaimed timber beams and we also have a network of skilled purpose made joinery manufacturers.
Successful historic building renovation projects
Recently, we helped to renovate Stanford Hall, an estate that dates back to 1558 – when it was first granted to a goldsmith favoured by Queen Mary I. The hall re-opened in 2018 as part of The Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre (DNRC). Not only does the building now reflect its original splendid state, it now accommodates up to 300 injured servicemen and women. It was all made possible with funding of donors and the Duke of Westminster, who bought the estate in 2011.
We were asked to undertake a survey of Stamford Hall in 2014. During this initial inspection our surveyors identified dry rot in multiple locations, including the roof voids and the basement. We returned in early 2015 with trained sniffer dogs, to detect dry rot not visible due to its location in voids and beneath floors.
Following an extensive assessment report we were selected to help renovate the property. This included work Dry Rot and Woodworm treatments and a basement conversion with ‘below ground’ waterproofing. Multiple timber resin splice repairs were completed on the main roof and structural timbers as the joists and beams had become decayed by the Dry Rot.
Technicians also removed and catalogued the floorboards to inspect and remove affected timbers. Fungicide treatments were carried out to areas of wood that could be preserved. Finally, we also sprayed the wood to protect it against further insect attack. Treatment like this coats the surface of the wood and penetrates up to 3mm, to poison and kill the adult beetle as it leaves the timber and provide protection from future infestations and greatly reduce the risk of further damage.
Renovation and restoration is a complex process – the type of building, its former use and its intended future use must be carefully considered. With experience working on projects including Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament and Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh, Peter Cox are the experts in property preservation. Whether you own a listed building in need or restoration, or are looking at purchasing one, get in touch with us here or call 0808 256 6495 and we will be able to advise you on any work that may need doing.
By Richard Walker, National Technical and Development Manager at Peter Cox