One of the most unique things about living in Stafford, or on the British Isles in general, is the sheer volume of history we see around us each and every day. You rarely have to venture far to find an old building in this area. This is wonderful for those of us who are interested in architecture and local history or, in my case, both. I’m certainly grateful to live in a country that shares a similar respect for heritage buildings, as I feel that, although the rules and regulations can occasionally be quite burdensome, Historic England does a tremendous job preserving these listed buildings.
Of course, working in construction as I do, these listed buildings present a whole other set of unique circumstances. These are buildings that must be preserved…but at the same time, they are also buildings that cannot be altered. This can prove difficult for the owners of the properties, as they must maintain the condition of their building, but by law, they cannot drastically alter it in any way.
Fortunately, there are a number of builders out there who are up to the task of preserving these listed buildings. In the attached pictures, taken at a Stafford area property, I’m hard at work preparing some pieces of oak for a listed building. Needless to say, this is a group I am proud to consider myself a part of!
One downside to listed buildings is that the work can be appear to be quite expensive. This is partially due to its highly specialised nature, but is also because the work done may not be quite as noticeable as it would in a newer property. Though it is certainly worth it, as we are preserving a piece of our history, much of the restoration done in listed buildings is structural in nature and may not always be visible. For example, if someone pays to redo the exterior of their home, they typically will see a significant difference in appearance when the job is complete. In a listed property, however, this may not be the case. On top of that, the work will likely have less of an impact on the home’s overall value.
Although someone with no real attachment to the property or to local history may not see the benefit of this type of specialised work, I’ve noticed that more often than not, the owners of these buildings are heritage enthusiasts themselves. It has been my experience that they truly understand, and appreciate, the work that has been done.
When restoring a listed building, the job works best when both sides of the equation are of like mind. The property owner hopefully understands, and appreciates, the nuances of this type of specialised work, but the contractor also has to bring something to the table. Listed buildings require a significant level of care and attention, and working on them is certainly a skill that must be properly developed.
It is always important to hire the right contractor for the job, but this importance increases when dealing with listed buildings. We are working on preserving our history and heritage here, after all!