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Cleaning And Repairing Listed Buildings

There are more than half a million listed buildings in the UK, and owners need to be aware of works that they can and can’t do. Last week, we looked at the different kinds of listed building gradings and what you need to do if you want to alter, extend or repair a listed building. Here, we take a closer look at cleaning and repairing a building that is listed.

Cleaning the exterior

If you are looking into cleaning your listed building, it is worth asking yourself “why” first. Cleaning can cause structural issues as well as impacting on the character and original features of a building. Sometimes, the build up of dust or dirt can offer a shadowing effect to buildings, and actually accentuates some embellishments or details that could be lost upon cleaning.

However, the impact isn’t just aesthetic. If a building is cleaned with a heavy or inexperienced hand, it can cause damage to the building itself. If you MUST clean a listed building, use water and a non-ferrous brush. Be careful not to rub too hard as you don’t want to scratch or damage the brickwork.

Repairing or replacing render, paintwork or plaster

Old plaster tells a story and it shouldn’t be removed unless it is damaged in a way that is compromising the building’s structure. If your builder or damp proof expert recommends that you should replace crumbling or failing plaster or render, you won’t need to get consent, however the materials must be like for like; if rendering needs to be replaced, your builder must use mortar and not cement. Likewise, lime plaster must be replaced or repaired with lime plaster.

In addition to making sure that the materials match, original architectural features need to be preserved during the re-rendering or re-plastering process. It is, therefore, essential that you employ a trusted, qualified builder to do the work for you.

When it comes to listed buildings, the best approach is to do nothing unless there is a possibility that the approach will lead to structural damage. If you are in doubt, contact a local builder or surveyor who should be able to provide you with guidance on how best to preserve your building’s historical features and maintain or repair the building within the limitations of its listing.

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