If you don't yet have a conservation architect, don't yet know what's best for your building, and are perhaps unsure of what to do next, you might consider either hiring a good conservation architect/engineer or make use of the OldBuilders Company consultation advisory service. Like many in the early stages of a project you may have found that you're getting conflicting and confusing advice from well meaning but ill-informed tradesmen and consultants, professionals that may well be experienced, but are just not familiar with old buildings and their special requirements. 

If you are yourself, an architect or engineer, working on a project and need some pointers on good conservation practice, this service could be very helpful to you and your clients,  OldBuilders Company can work with you directly or with you and your client together.

The word conservation, with many people conjures up thoughts of over the top perfection that is suitable for national monuments and museums.  This is not at all the case, certainly there are degrees of technique and perfection, but mostly conservation is about simple and practical methods that enable the buildings to function correctly, this is critical in keeping the building warm and dry.   See notes on Damp    -   See notes on DRY ROT - See notes on WOODWORM - Back to OldBuilders Company website

Architectural detailing is also important, getting the windows, doors, roof chimneys and many other details correct makes the difference in keeping your building looking authentic.  Its very easy to change an important detail and suddenly your building looks like a modern one, and after all the period look is perhaps why your restoring it in the first place. Keeping the original fabric is essential too, so conserving and repairing that door or wall is better than replacing with new.

It can be quite tempting just to get a couple of builders in to have a look over the building, but you will virtually always get contradictory advice. More confusing still, each will price different works with different specifications, on that basis you will be unable to make price comparisons nor make informed decisions as to the correct way to have the works done.

OldBuilders Company are specialists in old and historic buildings, and can correctly advise on what are THE acceptable specifications for these types of buildings, specifications that would be recommended by all of the top conservation bodies such as the Irish Georgian Society, Historic Scotland and English Heritage.  Not only have we spent many years as specialists in this work, but we also stay on top of  the latest research and thinking.   We keep abreast on current research, attending many industry events, seminars and talks by the top professionals in their fields.  So when we tell you how something should be done, you can be assured that it is not an off the cuff solution or one that we have invented, it will be based on sound research and experience, ours and other specialists..

Henry Thompson, the manager of OldBuilders, is well known in the conservation world for his expertise and experience.  He was a founding committee member of the Building Limes Forum Ireland and on their technical committee, he is on the traditional skills register of The Irish Georgian Society, and is on the Heritage Council Conservation Panel.  He regularly gives talks, demonstrations and training for The Building Limes Forum Ireland, The Irish Georgian Society, and the Heritage Council.   He has guest lectured at Queens University Belfast, Trinity College Dublin, at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales and for the governing body of Engineers Ireland in Dublin.

Compatibility is the main issue when determining appropriate materials and specifications, this does not mean there is something wrong with standard modern or high tech materials, just that often they are not compatible with the existing materials used in the old building, it is this incompatibility that is the cause of so many problems with old buildings. Most of the problems we tend to associate with old buildings are not so much the nature of the structure, but more what we have done to them over the last 60-70 years, the cements, the acrylic paints etc. You have to remember that, old solid walled buildings function in a fundamentally different way than modern cavity wall buildings, if these differences are not taken into account; new works can be the CAUSE of many future problems with the building,

During the site visit we go over your building from top to bottom,  we will discuss each element of the building, from the roof and walls to the windows, floors and drainage.  We review problems such as damp and structural issues and advise on appropriate remedies. We talk about the buildings construction history, we explain architecturally correct design details appropriate for the period of your building. We discuss what should and should not be done from a conservation point of view; explain typical techniques, materials and procedures that would be appropriate, we can also talk about basic design and layout that would be compatible with the building to bring it up to your proposed standards and needs.   We cover techniques and specifications for floors, walls, roof, drainage, windows, insulation.  Damp, rot, fungus, woodworm, we cover it all, there are very few problems that we have not previously experienced or problems we do not have solutions for. 

Conservation specifications and techniques are not just about just doing it the old fashioned way, for purest reasons, these conservation methods are very practical and functional that make your building perform correctly, ultimately making it a warmer, dryer and more comfortable place to live.

We would encourage you to take extensive notes or record the session. We can also provide written reports at an additional charge, fees depending on requirements. Remember we are not just another builder with an opinion, we will tell you the correct and generally accepted conservation procedures that are suitable for your building.  We can provide you with sketches for typical construction detailing, such as for a lime floor, conservation french drains, roof detailing etc. etc.

Understandably those on a tight budget are sometimes reluctant to pay consultation fees, but I would suggest you consider that you are benefiting from our 40 years experience in the business for what amounts to a few days of a labourers wages, one man battering away unnecessarily at a wall would cost you more.  The potential costs that can be avoided, by not making all those classic mistakes in your building, these can mount up, especially when you are spending tens or hundreds of thousands to complete your works.  No point in calling us in after you have completed works that may have compromised the structural integrity of your building or spending additional funds to undo unnecessary or inappropriate works. Your local bungalow builder will certainly show up and offer you free advice, but will it be the correct advice?. Remember, it is better to get the work done right the first time, so call us in BEFORE you start demolishing walls and digging out plants and trees, you can cause a lot of damage if you do it wrong.

When we come, you may need to provide ladders and lighting to get to attic spaces. If you wish you may want to use access equipment like a cherry picker, should you want us to do a close-up inspection of high walls, roofs and chimneys. This is not always necessary but it can provide you with more detailed and site specific information.

Following our site visit you will possibly have further questions, we are available on the phone to answer your questions. During your works, you may come across additional issues you need answers for, we will be available on the phone to assist further. Additional site visits are also possible but at a modest fee.

We have a variety of services available, please contact us by email for a quote, CONTACT DETAILS HERE. We offer advice for the whole building, or simple single localised issue you want us to look at such as a masonry crack.

If you need a standard survey for a bank or mortgage lender, then our service is not what they want, we are not chartered surveyors and although our reports will usually be far more practical for your proposed restoration works, this is not what the bank will be after.  We can refer you to a conservation engineer who can provide what the bank needs. Often it is usefull to get both a standerd chartered surveyorsreport and our adisory service, so you get what the bank needs and what YOU need for the restoration works.

If you are going to be looking at a series of properties before purchasing one, and you think you will need us to give you a quick opinion on several properties then we offer a package deal.

In many years of offering this service we have only had one client say it was not worth the money but that was perhaps becasue they were on the phone talking rather than listening, most find the process immensely informative and a great relief from the conflicting and misguided half-informed advice generally available. Its not that your average builder is not an experienced and well-meaning man, just that he is just not experienced in this type of building and the use of conservation building techniques.

Does your builder say things like "well, you could TRY...",   "I've done...",  "I think we could......".   The issue is not what you CAN do, but what you SHOULD do.  Do you really want your building to become an experiment, to be the learning ground for your builders knowledge.  What he "thinks", what he's "done" is really not relevant, what works is relevant, good conservation practice is relevant, tried and tested methods are relevant.


Extraordinarily informative........

Its what we needed to hear.......

Before, we had so much conflicting advice, finally this made sense.......

I had already done a lot of research on lime plaster, I knew a lot of what should be done, but all the local builders I had in all told me I was wrong, OldBuilders confirmed my information and filled me in on many other issues that had to be dealt with........

Henry was with us for 4 hours, when we were done I finally knew what to do and how to do it........

I have to admit, I was somewhat sceptical about these so called conservation techniques, but I followed up with my own research and found OldBuilders was bang on........

Everyone told me to dry-line.  OldBuilders explained to me in clear logical detail why that was a bad idea........

80% of what I had planed to do to my house turned out to be wrong, thank god I found OldBuilders before I did the work..........

The most informative afternoon iv spent in a long time...........



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