Heritage Business Property Preservation: Preparing a Maintenance Plan
In many cities, you can find buildings that have weather decades and centuries of history. During the most beautiful and the most horrific parts of history, they stood witness to these events. These buildings are little pieces of a city’s history right there and there, in the flesh (or brick?). They tell a story about the history of the city they are in. Also known as heritage buildings and properties, these buildings have architectural, cultural, aesthetic, or historical value, and are to be preserved.
Now, using this building in any way, for whatever reason, means you will have to take extra care. If you are entrusted with the maintenance of such a historic structure, you need to pay close attention. Below you can find a guide on how to prepare a good maintenance plan for such a structure.
Understand your building
If you want the maintenance plan to go according to, well, plan, you need to understand your property. So, read up on it as much as you can, do some research, contact the history department and see what they have to say.
Keep in mind that heritage sites are not just about nature. For example, Australia has many beautiful heritage sites, but many of its buildings are also worth maintaining and keeping. They have their own history, their own stories to tell as well.
Now, on a more practical level, you want to have inspections done a regular basis. This old building will need regular maintenance, or at least regular inspections. Also keep in mind that if a more serious weather event happened recently, you should maybe get an inspection going, just in case.
Get everything on paper
Since you’re dealing with such an important building, part of your maintenance plan should include having everything recorded. First, take many detailed photographs of the entire building, inside and out. This will help any contractor who has been hired to maintain and repair the place, as well as serving as a kind of buffer and insurance in case anything goes wrong.
Many heritage buildings have some special elements, like a unique decoration or an architectural flourish that may not be found anywhere else. Losing that kind of element would be a serious loss of architectural history (and can incur severe fines from your government). Having a photo can at least preserve it a bit better (and can protect you from said fines, since it wasn’t your fault).
No shame in asking for advice
You want two types of advice in this situation. First of all, contact the history or architecture department of your local university (or both), and see what they can do to help. They may recommend specialized companies that can help you prepare a maintenance plan, and assist you in organizing everything properly.
Next, as far as contractors are concerned, get geographic-specific help. If the building is in Sydney, then you need heritage roofing experts from Sydney that know what they are doing. Specialized contractors are familiar with their city, they know what is expected of them, and they know the most common issues buildings face in their area. At the very least ask for specialized professionals help and for advice.
They can tell you how the building was constructed, what changes were done to it over the years, and in general its condition. An expert can warn you about any weak spots and common problems, and how to maintain it over the year in small ways.
Get the right permits
We all know that surviving bureaucracy can be a serious chore. This also goes for any maintenance plan dedicated to heritage buildings. Namely, any work that may even touch the building’s elements that can be considered significant in any way needs to be approved by the appropriate governing body. You will most likely need approval from the relevant authority as soon as possible.
These permits also often demand proof of some kind that the contractors you are hiring actually know what they are doing. Workers that are only familiar with modern technology and types of work will often do more harm than good. Too many heritage buildings have been ruined by people who simply lacked the proper training to handle them.
By maintaining a heritage building, you are maintaining history. Any building that you own should be maintained, but these require special care. So, get the right permits, get some advice, and do your homework. Document everything, keep things organized, and everything will go according to plan.