Your Essential Guide to Renovating a Heritage Building
The massive, modern buildings that we see across the skylines of our cities in the UK weren’t always necessarily the norm. In the past, people would commonly use stone and brick to make buildings that had a real sense of character. You may not realise it, but heritage buildings are commonplace everywhere. If you are planning a renovation project on a heritage site, experience working in this environment is essential and using a building company with experience in the field is essential, they’ll understand the key challenges which may lie ahead and be able to handle them appropriately.
So, you might be asking yourself, what exactly is classed as a heritage building, how do you go about renovating a heritage building and what are some of the issues related to this process? This is what we are going to walk you through in this blog, to give you a greater understanding of the process of a heritage building renovation.
What is a heritage building?
To begin with, let’s define what exactly a heritage building is. A heritage building is any structure which is of sufficient age that it retains some historical value within a location. A heritage building doesn’t necessarily have to be ancient although it does tend to have some form of historical value. These kinds of buildings are classified as “heritage” and protected in keeping with city by-laws. While this point doesn’t necessarily give the heritage building a formal definition it does help to understand what that means.
How is a heritage building classified?
There is no ideal way of defining whether a building is classed as heritage or not. When the word heritage is said, you probably immediately think “old”. That might not however be the case. Buildings built as recently as the 70s, 80s and 90s can be classed as historical and can be considered a heritage building believe it or not.
To begin with, let’s define who classifies heritage structures. In bigger cities, the infrastructure might support a “heritage” division which seeks out and protects properties may retain some historic value. Smaller locations might require residents and the city council to implement law protecting properties. In the first instance, frequently the heritage society or council will assess the property.
Key factors which will need to be considered:
- Is the building architecturally significant in any way?
- Are there any historical events that took place in the property?
- Does the building represent a specific era or time and place in history?
- Did someone with historical significance possess the property?
- Does the building feature an innovative engineering component?
Once they’ve assessed the building the heritage society typically prepares a report which goes before the council and the building is typically adopted as a “heritage protected building”.
Kinds of heritage buildings
There are different kinds of heritage buildings and many of these buildings can be renovated. Based on the above, if you are looking at work on renovating buildings you may want to focus on specific types. For example, renovating a church is very different from renovating a heritage house.
What does being a heritage building owner mean for me?
Defining a building as heritage comes hand in hand with a few complications and factors which need to be taken into account. To better assess this, let’s have a look at the responsibilities of owning a heritage building.
Owning a heritage building
Owning a heritage building means that you are responsible for a part of history. This responsibility comes with certain catches. This includes the fact that you are responsible for maintenance and the upkeep of the building. Ensuring that the heritage components stay in good condition over the years.
Luckily for you, having a building retained as a heritage structure also indicates that you’ll receive some tax breaks and can apply for grants to gain additional support with this. Many societies and charities offer grants and loans to help protect these buildings. Last but not least, lots of heritage buildings may well be old, however, as the building owner, it is your responsibility to ensure that the structure is safe and you will need to identify the areas of the building of decline.
Types of heritage renovations
When dealing with a new project that involves a historical element it’s important to review the heritage assessment report. That will indicate what can remain and what can go in a renovation.
Heritage buildings are often renovated in one of three ways:
- Basic – the restoration of historical features
- Intermediate – specific removal of non-heritage elements and restoration of heritage elements
- Advanced – retention of only heritage elements or the removal of everything else
Lots of builders nowadays will know that projects are often delayed during the permitting phase. In busy cities where development is growing, city planners often can’t keep up with the influx of projects.
To solve this problem there are a few key actions you and your project team can do upfront to prevent delays in dealing with the city and getting your building permit.
Start making plans early on – allow your construction team to review your designs and concepts. By including them in the design early on there’s less risk of a major change coming out of the building permit application.
Start the application process as soon as possible – leaving plenty of time in your schedule for a building permit review is essential. There are loads of opinions on the reviewer’s side when dealing with a heritage building permit application so do take this into account.
Use a professional heritage renovation company – make sure to hire an outside consultant who is familiar with the people within the city doing the reviews.
Preserving buildings from the past for years to come
While renovations of a heritage building may be challenging at times, it’s important to remember that preserving buildings for future generations is important.
The stories that these buildings of the past can tell and teach us are powerful and the causes behind them can be instrumental in understanding our rich cultural history. Ensuring these are preserved and maintained is crucial.
James Dunn Roofing – Heritage Building Renovation in Oxford
It doesn’t matter how well a building is constructed, wear and tear will occur with time and exposure. A heritage building renovation requires a great deal of care and experience to preserve the original architecture and character of the property. James Dunn Roofing Ltd has over 35 years of experience in the restoration of classic buildings. Based in Oxford and servicing Oxfordshire, we have what it takes to renovate buildings with a long history.
James Dunn Roofing Ltd is experts in building renovation for listed properties. Our full-service offering includes everything needed to restore an older building to its former glory, including, new roof installation, roof repairs and maintenance, chimney repairs, decorating and design. We undertake heritage building renovation throughout Oxfordshire. Our projects include listed buildings, places of worship, educational facilities and more. To find out more about the services we offer and what we can do for you, please visit our website or contact us today, we’d be delighted to hear from you.