4th December 2020
How businesses can ensure long-term protection for heritage assets through specialist skills investment

James Perry, Surveyor at Rund discusses how specialist construction and surveying consultancy services are fundamental for the future survival of historic buildings across the country.

“Britain is known for its provenance worldwide. We are lucky to have a multitude of establishments which define our nation’s history and culture, with Historic England estimating there are around 500,000 listed buildings in the UK.

The Culture Recovery Fund

“Unfortunately, COVID-19 has forced many of these cherished buildings to close and threatened their future survival. The government recently announced it had allocated more than £500 million to nearly 2,500 cultural organisations and venues across the country as part of its £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund. The fund is in place to help these businesses plan for reopening and to safeguard their future, with a proportion specifically going towards construction and maintenance projects that have been paused due to the pandemic.

“This injection of funds will no doubt make a significantly positive difference to the culture sector, as maintenance works are imperative to keep our heritage sites safe, operational and appealing to prospective visitors. However, it is important to remember that while monetary investment will ensure works are carried out, specialist skills investment will ensure they are carried out correctly.

Understanding high value, traditional materials and historic building techniques

“Heritage site works involve high value materials which predominantly need to be replaced, like-for-like. Windsor Castle, for example, contains roofs which are covered in sand cast lead, installed in the 1600s. The cost for replacement is substantial, and yet essential to ensure the building’s heritage value is sustained.

“As such, it is vital to invest in an experienced surveyor for any refurbishment works, who has a working knowledge of traditional materials and historic building techniques. Put simply, those conducting heritage refurbishment works need to understand what materials do and how they work. At Rund, we offer clients over 30 years’ experience in historic building conservation and restoration, with a wide-ranging experience in areas including ecclesiastical, secular public and private sectors, the royal household, English heritage, royal parks, and historic royal palaces. Our extensive portfolio of knowledge allows us to confidently manage projects and ensure long-term solutions, with quality and sensitivity at front of mind for the building in question.

Applying sensitive skills to historic building maintenance projects

“Heritage refurbishment works also involve incredibly sensitive skill application. Often, this includes archaeological investigations, undertaken when there is little documentary evidence of installation and subsequent maintenance. There are many elements to refurbishment works which need considering, which is why our team covers multiple bases to ensure everything is factored into the finished product. As part of our services, our experienced Chartered Building Surveyors support and advise clients who wish to purchase, alter, conserve, or restore their heritage asset with intricate building surveys. We also offer three, four and five year surveys, maintenance and condition surveys and defects investigations to gain a detailed understanding of the building and its properties.

Demonstrating respect and understanding for historic building values

“As heritage sites require a great deal of sensitivity, businesses need to place a substantial amount of trust in those involved in the works. Structures will need to stand ‘sound’ for several hundreds of years more once works complete, without the need for further intervention during that time. Therefore, businesses need to be confident they have a competent team behind them, who respect and understand their site’s rich heritage and its value in the modern world. Only then can they be assured that a site will continue operating to the highest standards for many years to come.”

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