What is Built Heritage?

Any traditional building, i.e. one constructed before 1919 is considered to be part of the traditional built environment or, alternatively, a Heritage Building. This does not only include stately homes, religious buildings and scheduled monuments; but also domestic properties of any scale and industrial buildings too.

Traditional (and particularly vernacular) buildings will generally have been constructed using local materials and lime mortars. After the 1st World War, the mass manufacture of building materials such as bricks and cement mortars, and the move to cavity wall construction, allowed for modern construction practice to come to the fore.

Pre-1919 buildings are mostly of solid wall construction. This, combined with other construction practices, create a building that works in a totally different way to a post-war building. Unfortunately, many of the modern materials and building practices have been applied to traditional buildings which have led to an array of problems, including damp, moulds, crumbling masonry and of course aesthetic deterioration.

When people say that traditional buildings ‘breathe’ – what they mean is that the nature of the construction allows for movement of moisture within the building fabric. Maintained and used as intended, these buildings can be warm, comfortable and healthy places to live with a low carbon footprint, without the need for extensive intervention.

Unfortunately, the skills needed to maintain and repair these buildings are being lost through lack of suitable training opportunities and diminishing numbers of people with the skills working in the sector.

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