The UK is home to some of the world’s best architecture, and we don’t just mean modern buildings. There are many stunning examples of architecture from centuries gone by. Everywhere you’ll find the hallmarks of our ancestors efforts to satisfy their needs, sustain life and express themselves. With more than one in five buildings in… Read More
Historic Commercial Buildings: A Restoration Guide
The UK is renowned for its historic architecture. In England alone, there are as many as 500,000 listed buildings. Almost every village and town in Britain has buildings with a Tudor, Victorian or Edwardian twist. Today, companies large and small are choosing to do business from historic buildings which are now being used as commercial properties. There are now approximately 142,000 businesses trading from listed buildings across the country. However, the upkeep and maintenance of these buildings can be a difficult task. As a result, many historic commercial buildings eventually require restorative works.
Commercial buildings can be anything from corner shops, large department stores, local pubs, Victorian gin palaces, simple chambers, or huge office blocks. Some of the UKs specialised commercial buildings appeared in the Middle Ages, while others came into being in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The range and scale of these buildings were transformed in the nineteenth century, making a significant impact on Victorian towns. This trend continued into the twentieth century, most commonly seen in British cities. There’s long been a high value on commercial architecture, and this has seen some of the UK’s most splendid public high street architecture. However, it has also resulted in continuous change, particularly shop fronts and fittings.
Restoring a historic commercial building
Restoration is the process of returning part or all of a building to the way it previously looked. If the historic commercial building’s design is of a specific period and a fundamental building element is damaged or missing, restoring it could help to enhance the building’s significance. However, any restoration project requires careful consideration to ensure the preservation of a building’s heritage. When you are looking to clean, repair or restore a listed building, you’ll find a minefield of complex rules and regulations. However, there are some key things you should know to help you when restoring a historic commercial building.
Pay attention to building regulations
Before you make any changes that could affect the building’s appearance or character, or even if you intend to restore the commercial building sympathetically to its original style, you still might need listed building consent or planning permission. Designers, building managers, and planning officers should be involved early in the project’s planning. They need suitable time to investigate any issues and challenges that may arise with the restoration works.
Research building’s history
The building may have undergone various changes over the years to reflect changes in architectural style. Meanwhile, repairs made over the years may have used a variety of different types of materials. This can make restoration all the more complex.
Restoration must be based on solid evidence of what the building looked like in its earlier period. Therefore, any restoration project requires a good understanding of the building’s history. You may discover that some elements of a building’s design, such as pinnacles, balustrades or windows, may have been lost in previous years. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you should add all these elements to your building simply because they were typical of the period. Instead, it would be best to choose what is most appropriate for the building as it is today.
Retain as much as possible
When it’s necessary to make repairs to a historic commercial building, you should approach it by following the fundamental conservation principles of retaining as much of the building’s original fabric as possible. Every time large parts of the original material are removed, the building will lose its historic integrity. The details and materials inside the building are just as important as those on the outside. The original plasterwork stairs, floors and fireplaces, joinery such as skirtings and window encasements all contribute to the value and history of the building. Anything that’s still sound should be protected and left in situ wherever possible or carefully removed and placed in safe and dry storage before putting back into the building.
Planning restoration works for your commercial building
Any changes or upgrades made during the restoration should always be sympathetic to the original design and installed in such a way that avoids damage to the building’s façade, character-defining features, and finishes. You must try to work around the historic building fabric as much as possible. Any restoration should match the original building’s design, colour, texture, and materials as closely as possible.
For a commercial building restoration project to succeed, you need a good team of qualified professionals behind you, especially when it comes to cleaning. Our specialists have the knowledge, skills and experience to sympathetically clean and restore your historic commercial building so it can be used and enjoyed for many years to come.
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