5 Golden Rules

Traditional buildings are beautiful and full of character. These simple rules will help you to protect your property and avoid expensive repairs.


Rule One
Never, Never, Never, use cement on a stone building.


damage caused by cement pointing on sandstone


If you learn nothing else from this article, learn this one thing. If a builder suggests using cement to carry out a repair put down the phone, shut the door, bolt it and close the curtains.

Cement harling or pointing to stone walls will always cause a lot of damage that will be very costly to repair. The damage isn't immediate, it may look good and perform well at first, but over time, serious problems will begin to emerge that will be very costly to repair.


Rule Two
Never use damp proofing treatments on a stone wall.


dampness in masonry walls


They are expensive, they don't work on traditional stone walls and they can cause more damage to your property. Traditional stone walls won't suffer from damp problems when they are properly maintained.

If you have damp walls, it is more likely to be the result of inappropriate alterations, a maintenance issue or a problem somewhere else in the building and the link between the cause and effect may not be obvious to an untrained eye. Applying a modern commercial damp treatment will prevent traditional materials working the way that they are supposed to. They only hide the problem rather than fixing it, the damage to the building structure will continue, though it will now be hidden.


Rule Three
Regularly clean your gutters


blocked gutters


Water entering the building from faulty rainwater goods is a common cause of many problems in traditional buildings. They get blocked by leaves, causing water to back up and spill out soaking roof timbers and stonework.

One consequence of global warming in Scotland, is more frequent and heavy down pours which can over whelm your buildings drainage. In most situations, gutters are accessible and easy to clean. It costs very little, if anything and will have great outcome.


Rule Four
Speak to a building conservation expert before installing insulation.


mineral wool insulation in attic space of traditional property


We all want to enjoy the comfort of a warm home and reduce fuel bills. Traditional buildings can be upgraded and continue to provide a wonderful home or work environment, but they do not respond to heating and insulation in the same way as modern buildings. There are many options available to insulate them, but the right method must be used in the right place. Unfortunately many companies offering energy efficiency advice do not have the understanding or expertise needed to deal with these properties.

Traditional buildings need to breathe. Insulation installed in the wrong way will block ventilation paths. This will lead to the build-up of moisture in the property, resulting on mould or damp. This can affect the health of you and your family. It can also result in rot.


Rule Five
Don't bury your head in the sand.


extensive rot from years of neglect


Arrange a property health check from an RIAS conservation accredited Architect. Don't wait for a problem to appear before you get expert advice. To a trained eye, potential problems can be spotted long before they become actual problems.

When left untreated, a small maintenance item that could be sorted quickly and cheaply, will grow into a more serious issue requiring a more significant repair or intervention.

We lead busy lives and household spending is always under pressure. Its therefore unsurprising that the condition of our property is often overlooked until we are confronted with a problem. By this stage it can be too late. When you need help in an emergency you may be tempted to make a bad decision under pressure.

In the same way your car needs an MOT inspection each year, to keep it roadworthy, you should arrange a regular inspection of your property. This will keep it in good condition and help to reduce your maintenance costs and eliminate expensive repairs over the long term. Organisations like the National Trust and Historic Scotland, that are responsible for looking after a large number of older properties recognise the importance of this. They plan the regular inspection of all their properties every five years

There are many skilled professionals and tradesmen that have the knowledge and expertise to care for your property in the right way, ensuring that it will stay in great condition and continue to perform well for the next hundred years.

They may not be expensive, but they are in high demand, so you need to plan ahead and book them well in advance.

MAAC Studio are accredited conservation architects who specialise in combining contemporary design with architectural conservation, mixing old and new to create elegant and meaningful spaces that comfort and inspire.

Get in touch to arrange a health check for your building.


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