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When one thinks of construction, the first image that generally comes to mind includes groundworks for a new-build property. However, with so many historic buildings in Britain, more and more historic properties are being refurbished and repurposed for the modern world. Keeping and re-purposing old buildings not only ensures they do not go into disrepair, therefore maintaining Britain’s cultural heritage, but can also be a cost-effective, time-saving choice.

What does historic building refurbishment involve?

Generally speaking, when restoring a historic building, most alterations are internal to allow for a new layout, improved thermal efficiency, and more efficient use of space, to name a few. However, depending on the level of legal protection the building has, i.e. whether or not it is listed or it is within a designated conservation area, external alterations are also possible. From tasteful extensions to alterations to the exterior finish, a building’s refurbishment does not have to be hidden inside four walls.

Benefits of repurposing historic buildings

Local authorities, especially in historic parts of the country such as London, look favourably on the re-use and adaptation of historic buildings. Retaining historic buildings means you could face fewer planning hurdles, getting your project through the planning process more quickly. The re-use of historic buildings is also an inherently sustainable approach, offering an eco-friendly solution to new builds. From a financial point of view, there is a clear saving on high-quality materials which have stood the test of time. Not only that, but the overall aesthetic and charm of a historic property cannot be reproduced in modern new-builds. Such quirky and historic features can often put your newly-refurbished building at the top of people’s lists, not to mention able to command a hefty premium.

Inherent constraints

Oftentimes, it is sometimes considered cheaper to demolish an existing historic building and start anew. As mentioned above, there are several reasons why re-purposing it might be a better choice, but it is not without its own issues. Any construction company seeking to repurpose historic buildings needs to be aware of the various constraints of working with an older building. From planning constraints when working with listed buildings to the complexities of having to balance the preservation of its historic character with things like thermal efficiency, there are several potential issues to work through. We, as a fit-out company, must stay up-to-date with the latest policies and guidance on the conversion of historic buildings to ensure the most significant aspects of the historic character are preserved whilst also making them fit for purpose.

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