What we now consider as high quality, high cost choices for building with, traditional materials such as limestone, sandstone, slate, hard woods, steel, dressed stone and hand-made bricks; were once standard. These materials are what contribute to those elusive but seductive and often valuable features of buildings often referred to as period charm or character.
Any building built before World War Two (and many built after) is likely to contain such materials. These will be from the days before mass transportation and the desire to move dense heavy materials over vast distances to be used at locations where similar materials exist, but cost a little more to extract, process or prepare.
Whilst current building practices necessitate the need for modern materials in a renovation project, it is important to respect an aged structure and the materials from which it was originally constructed. Use modern where necessary, use traditional were possible but only where fusing the two can be done in a harmonious and sympathetic manner.
The glass-half-full approach to this is to take the opportunity to work with materials that just don’t fit into modern buildings – 4 inch thick flags or oak window frames are a waste of time, a waste of money and a poor design decision when placed in a 1980’s house – in a renovation of an old building, in context, they can shine…
I’m sorry, but uPVC and dressed stone just don’t work in harmony for me!