Dennis Flower, editor of Premises and Facilities Management looks at some of the considerations when looking at listed buildings.
It is estimated that there are approximately 150,000 heritage buildings with listed status around the UK that are used for commercial or public purposes, with more than 300,000 others that do not have listed status but which also require specialist care.
Day-to-day running of these facilities will require specialist knowledge and skills in a number of areas, particularly where alterations or repairs are involved.
Listed building consent is a legal requirement before work can commence and the alterations or repairs will usually have to ensure that the end result leaves the building or site as close to its original condition and appearance as possible.
This will frequently involve the creation of bespoke solutions, either to match the existing visual appearance or to avoid interfering with the structure. The latter is particularly relevant to the updating or repair of a range of building services equipment.
“It’s better to be safe than sorry” is particularly relevant when working on old buildings and structures.
Plant and equipment may be operating within areas of limited access and this also presents numerous challenges, such as accessing pipework or electric cables concealed behind walls and panels without damaging these.
Although modern equipment is often smaller than the options used more than 30 years ago – it’s unlikely a listed building will still be using its original heating and hot water equipment – it may still be necessary to source options that can be installed in situ, for example.
It is additionally essential that everyone working on site has the necessary expertise required to repair, install or handle the materials and equipment involved, much of which will no longer be used in modern buildings.
Those tasked with maintaining heritage buildings will also need to take considerable care to guarantee that adequate insurance is in place, as these structures are known for being particularly vulnerable to fire and water and other instances of accidental damage, including knocks and scrapes.
A relatively minor incident has the potential to cause considerable problems in many heritage buildings, so the old saying “It’s better to be safe than sorry” is particularly relevant when working on old buildings and structures.
Dennis Flower is editor of Premise and Facilities Management Magazine.
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