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Ethics of Building Conservation

The ethics of good repair

  • the historical development of the building must be fully documented. (No decisions regarding intervention should be made in isolation of the full knowledge of all the building phases)

  • the condition of the building and the condition of any materials must be fully documented before the intervention has taken place.

  • the methods and materials used must be fully documented

  • the intervention must be taken by a conservator/contractor who is fully trained and experienced in this field of work

Ethics that must be tested against any proposed intervention

  • the intervention must be the minimum necessary

  • the intervention should be reversible if technically possible, this is more likely to be achievable with traditional methods

  • the intervention should not prejudice future intervention

  • the intervention should not hinder later access to all the evidence incorporated in the structure

  • the intervention should be totally directed by dedicated respect for aesthetics, and historical and physical integrity. (It should be noted that there might be a conflict between aesthetics and retaining historic or archaeological integrity)
  • the intervention should allow the maximum amount of existing material to be retained

 

the intervention should be harmonising in colour, tone, texture, form and scale

the intervention/addition should be less noticeable than the original material but be readily identifiable. (In practice this means that the intervention should not jar with the original and be subservient. It should however, be capable of identification by an expert although it may be little in evidence to a lay member of the public)

  • restoration should not be attempted unless there is adequate archaeological evidence or there is good photographic or drawn evidence for the items to be replaced

In addition the items must be essential to re-instate the original design concept. Restoration in order to re-instate the original design concept is only done in exceptional circumstances and where the restoration is absolutely necessary for the structure to be fully understood and appreciated by the observer. Archaeological curiosity should not be engaged in, so as to attempt to retrieve the evidence, especially if this will result in unnecessary intervention in the structure

The National Heritage website website aims to help owners of traditionally constructed houses understand the potential impacts of climate change on their properties and how simple building maintenance can help to lessen the effects of increasingly extreme weather. The site also provides detailed advice on how to improve the energy efficiency of traditionally constructed houses whilst preserving their special character.

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