Emergency Repairs for Historic Buildings by Eleanor Michell

By Eleanor Michell

Emergency maintenance for ancient structures

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7 Industrial and commercial uses Owners of historic warehouses, factories, and agricultural and transport buildings often have particular difficulty in finding users. Years may elapse before a suitable use emerges and with it the finance for full repair. A free caretaking service could be of value during this period. If the 'caretaker' also used all or part of the building and paid the rates, the burden on the owner would be eased and the building would have a better chance of survival. Temporary premises are suitable for new enterprises which will look for somewhere permanent as soon as their viability is established.

If removal would be disproportionately expensive or would endanger the object, they can be boxed in position. Use treated timber and exterior quality plywood covered with roofing felt to make the box waterproof. Insulating slabs may possibly reduce the number of freeze and thaw cycles. For enrichments attached to the facade boxing is also a possibility, but in this case the insulation should be omitted and the box ventilated. The framework should be screwed to the wall with brass screws and a proper roof and flashing provided.

Although the external character is of the eighteenth century, this Fig 45 plan 5-7 Elder Street, Spitalfields: first floor pair of houses has a plan type which is a rare medieval survival and was already archaic at the time of building. Each house is one room deep with a two-storey rear extension and a winding newel stair in the rear corner rising from basement to attic. At the back a cascade of roof slopes descends to small yards, and incorporates a leaded weaver's window and an original boarded attic wall.

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