Buildings are listed in recognition of their historical and architectural significance, aiming to protect them for future generations. However this means that any alterations, additions, or renovations must adhere to specific guidelines to maintain the building’s integrity. Obtaining consent for such work is often more complex and time-consuming than with a standard property.
One of the major challenges of making repairs or alterations to listed buildings is preserving original features or historical content. These features can be what gives the building character and makes it unique, however preserving them while making full use of the building space can be difficult and require careful consideration and planning as well as gaining the correct permissions to carry out work. However, when executed properly with the correct materials and contractors who are skilled in specific historic building repair, this can result in an end product with lots of character, retaining period features while also providing the luxuries of modern development.
There can also be challenges surrounding accessibility, especially in buildings intended for public use, where many historic buildings do not have the necessary step free access to meet modern accessibility standards. This can lead to the need to come up with clever design solutions to install lifts or ramps without compromising the historic frontage of the property. This can be especially difficult in conservation areas such as Bath where any change to a building’s frontage has to be approved, as the aim is to keep the area looking as close to historically accurate as possible.
Historic buildings can also pose challenges with energy efficiency. Listed buildings may have limitations on the types of modifications allowed, for example, restrictions on altering windows or adding external insulation can impact the feasibility of certain energy-efficient retrofitting options that would commonly be used in modern buildings. Incorporating renewable energy sources like solar panels or wind turbines can also be challenging due to aesthetic concerns and limitations imposed by the building’s structure. There are however options available, for example there are glass products available which provide but are a fraction of the thickness allowing them to be used in Georgian or other historical frames without compromising the traditional look. Increasing the energy efficiency of a building can vastly improve the number of future opportunities for the property as well as having a positive impact on the environment.
With challenges can also come great reward, and while the process of conversion or adaptation can be challenging, the opportunity to occupy a unique property that combines the beauty of a historic property with the practicality of a modern building is a rare one.
CSquared has dedicated heritage specialists who can assist at every stage of the repair, conversion or adaptation process, from initial assessment to listed building applications, scheduling of work to project management. Please get in touch for more details.