You don’t have to travel far to enjoy beautiful buildings here in the UK, and we’re lucky to be blessed with a wide variety of historical stately homes, churches, museums, town halls and more. All buildings need maintenance and repairs from time to time, but this is even more important if the building is centuries old, or of certain cultural significance.
Building restoration covers a range of highly skilled services which restore historic buildings back to their former glory. This type of restoration and refurbishment can be used to revitalise modern buildings too, but it’s likely that they’ll need less attention. Restoration can cover large scale tasks, such as restoring a roof or stonework, through to smaller details like gilding a clock face. If you’d like to know more about building restorations services, what they are, and why they’re so important, then read on to find out more.
What is building restoration?
Historic England’s guide to Conservation Principles and Policies defines building restoration as “returning a building to a known earlier state, on the basis of compelling evidence, without conjecture”. Several factors must be taken into consideration before restoration goes ahead, such as:
If the above questions can be answered in a satisfactory way then the restoration work is deemed acceptable to go ahead. Restoration and repair work often overlap, but this will depend on each individual building and how much work is needed.
Restoration aims to preserve as much of the original building as possible, or in cases where elements are rebuilt, it will strive to use techniques and materials that are as close to the original as possible. Building restoration can be split into reversible and irreversible techniques, but the methods used will depend on how damaged the building is, and whether the interventions can be undone without causing further damage.
Why are buildings restored?
There are many valuable reasons to restore a building, especially one of cultural or historical significance. Building restoration is usually carried out for one or more of the five following reasons:
Building restoration uses a number of techniques to restore a property to its former glory, without interfering with the original design. As mentioned, restoration can incorporate several techniques, including repairs and preservation methods, so read on to find out more.
Over the years, a building’s foundations can be weakened by structural shifts, natural disasters (e.g earthquakes) and material degradation. Preservation methods are there to safeguard a building from any future events which might weaken its structure or cause additional damage.
Preservation techniques include strengthening a building’s facade, making sure foundations are secure and taking steps to protect the building from vandalism such as graffiti.
In many cases, building restoration will also include some repairs and these are often necessary to ensure the preservation of the building as a whole. Repairs might include patching up cracks or gaps in concrete walls, repairing door and window frames, replacing electrical wires, plastering or replacing floor tiles.
In most cases, every effort will be made to use the same materials (or as close as possible) as the original.
This is similar to preservation, but it does not include any decoration or refurbishment. In many ways it doesn’t alter the appearance of a building, instead its purpose is to prevent the further deterioration of a structure. Rehabilitation includes things like shoring up crumbling walls (to prevent total collapse) repairing timber beams or stone columns, or adding tie-rods to arches.
This might involve replacing or repairing a few tiles, or adding an entire new roof to a roofless building. Adding a roof (if there isn’t one) is often deemed necessary to protect the paintwork or other decorative elements within the building. Roof restoration includes cleaning, repairing and repainting roof tiles, as well as adding replacement tiles to patch up holes.
This covers the restoration of brick and stone and the process is often complicated and highly skilled. Masonry work includes restoring the look of the brickwork, removing old mortar, repainting, or replacing missing bricks. Great care is taken to match the new bricks to the old, and use techniques which respect the original construction of the building.
Paintwork can become chipped, faded and oxidized over time due to a number of factors, including air pollution, UV rays and extreme weather conditions. Paint restoration uses techniques to analyse old paint layers and determine their original pigmentation. This can then be used to produce a modern chemical substitute that’s as close to the original as possible. In some cases the recipe will have to be altered to exclude dangerous original materials from the original recipe, such as arsenic or lead.
Paint restoration can be used to restore internal murals, frescoes and wall paintings, or external paintwork which may have been damaged over time.
Strengthening of foundations
As mentioned above, preserving a building might include strengthening its foundations so that it can withstand structural shifts or natural disasters such as earthquakes. Old stone foundations can be restored and strengthened with the addition of concrete blocks and steel rods, but it’s vital to use an expert mason for this type of work.
Restoration work can be split into reversible, or irreversible, categories. In many cases, reversible restoration methods are preferable as they can be replaced with minimal damage to the original building. Reversible restoration techniques are often used to strengthen a building’s structure temporarily, and include:
Rodells - The professional Church Restoration specialists
If you’re in need of professional building restoration or refurbishment, get in touch with the experts at Rodells. We’re proud to specialise in restoring historical buildings to their former glory and our skilled craftsmen have all the knowledge and expertise required to ensure your buildings look their best.
We also offer church conservation and can apply our expertise to revitalise contemporary or commercial buildings. Our extensive range of services include, detailed surveys of church spires and towers, roof restoration (including lead work), repair and treatment of timber structures, clock works, stonework and weathervane maintenance.
In addition to our restoration work, we can assist you with lightning protection and scaffolding services for the industrial and commercial sectors. For more information or to discuss your next project, give us a call today or visit our website.