Old buildings do not behave like new ones. Taking proper care of them requires skills that most owners (and contractors) do not have.
When things go wrong with an old building it is most often associated with:
- Improper repairs;
- Lack of maintenance;
- Lack of understanding of how the building works.
There are a number of interventions that can have an adverse effect in old buildings. Typical examples are:
- External or internal cement rendering.
- Cement pointing.
- Introduction of heating at too high temperatures.
- Impermeable plastic paints.
- Waterproof coatings.
- Sealing up disused chimneys.
There is little point in covering up problems if you do not find the source of them and repair the real problem.
It is important to know when specialist advice is needed. It is a false economy not to get the best advice before having work carried out. Bad repair works can be difficult and expensive to undo. They can damage a building in the long-term and devalue your property.
Isabel Barros is a RIAI Architect Accredited in Conservation at Grade 3.