Above: Some of the spaces in the listed building, finished, post restoration and extension.

Below, some of the same spaces, before our project - can you pair them up?

Listed Building Refurbishment and Extension

Exeter Devon, England

This project was one of the first undertaken by our practice. A four-storey Georgian townhouse, built c. 1850, Grade II listed, in a state of dilapidation had been purchased by our clients Little or no maintenance had been effected in decades, ad-hoc extensions had been added in the 20th century, resulting in a dark, dangerous building. At the time of conveyance, it was on the Local Authority's "Buildings at Risk" register, one of only nine properties in the area.  However, beneath the chaos and rot, the potential for a beautiful home was clear. All that was required was a programme of total restoration, alteration and extension.


Comprehensive refurbishment was required, all of it within standard architectural design and specification. Structurally, the building was stable but needed some limited tying and underpinning. A new roof finish and leadwork was required, external rendering needed extensive repair (in lime render), some floor joists needed replacing, windows needed restoration and much of the internal finishes needed to be replaced.The worst conditions were found in the basement, which was so damp, not only had floor and wall finishes rotted to dust, the staircase had disintegrated. 

As is sometimes the case with listed buildings, the boundary between that which can be saved and repaired, and the fabric that should be replaced, was blurred. The conservation officer, for example, required us to retain an original timber herringbone floor finish in the basement, citing the current planning policy for historic assets. However, we made the case that, as architects, we considered the wood beyond economic repair. We submitted a report on the matter, and won permission to replace the floor finish entirely with stone slabs.

The most significant parts of the scheme were the changes we made to this listed building. We demolished sections of it, made new openings in load-bearing walls, altered layouts, added bathrooms and services, and built a contemporary extension across the rear of the house. There is often much more that can be done to listed buildings than is commonly thought, in the hands of the right architect. Listed building consents require more consideration and sensitivity from proposals than standard planning permissions. Conservation officers and planners will look for competence and experience in the architect for the scheme, because listed buildings are protected, and the risk of damage from poor, uninformed work must be avoided.


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