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Assessing a heritage property

Whether you’re interested in taking on a large-scale refurb or a small renovation, when dealing with a period home you need to fully understand its conditions, characteristics and what you can do to it. Alan Tierney reveals what to look out for

R enovating an old property can be one of the most rewarding ways to create an individual home packed with character – but before you start, you need to be sure the building can withstand the kind of scheme you want to undertake. Here are some key elements to consider prior to putting your cash into a project.

Check its breathable performance If your house was built before 1919, it’s likely to have been made using very different methods and materials to those that are available today. Pre- 1919, popular construction products were stone, timber, lime, earth and clay, all of which are generally soft and permeable. Unlike modern materials, which are designed to keep moisture out of the building envelope, these traditional components readily soak moisture up from their surroundings and facilitate its evaporation. A good balance between absorption and evaporation prevents the building fabric from becoming damp. This is referred to as breathability.

Above: The now owners of this property in Tooting, south west London, noticed a deflection at the top of one of the external walls when they first viewed the property. The damage was caused by World War II bombing. The solution was to tie all the walls to the more stable flank wall. There was also damp at the front of the property that had to be chemically treated
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About Build It

Make 2018 your year to self-build with Build It's latest advice and inspiration-packed edition! This month's issue includes: - 32 must-read tips for your project - Expert guide to planning success - The secret to a characterful renovation - How to buy the right bricks - Design ideas: windows & glazing - Reinstating an old fireplace ...and more!