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Maintaining Historic Buildings by our Conservation Surveyor

At Murray Birrell we’ve been working with historic buildings for many years. This includes properties within Conservation Areas and buildings which are Listed and of high architectural status.

We are regularly instructed by clients such as the London Estates, the National Trust and Almshouse Trusts. In addition we have a proven track record of working on Churches, including St Lawrence Jewry in the City of London. We deal regularly with many Council Planning Departments including the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster City Council and we have good working relationships with their Conservation Officers and understand their approach to conservation.

Specific issues that we face when working with historic buildings regularly include selection of replacement materials for external repairs and upgrading thermal insulation. In addition, we have agreed modern materials as a result of dry rot outbreaks where re-use of timber is not appropriate. 

Image: St Lawrence Jewry next Guildhall, EC2

Image: St Lawrence Jewry next Guildhall, EC2

We appreciate the need to keep historic buildings in use. Some of the properties we work on are open to the public, such as Rainham Hall in Essex and Carlyle’s House in London’s Chelsea. We always seek solutions acceptable to both the building owners and the Planners and can sometimes negotiate the use of cheaper modern materials to replace worn-out expensive ones where possible.

Image: The National Trust - Rainham Hall

We generally adopt the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings philosophy of conservation and repairs and to use modern materials for honest repairs for future generations to see where appropriate. We will always try to retain as much of the original fabric as possible maintaining a respect for age and to undertake only essential repairs whilst at the same time we acknowledge the need for a pragmatic approach when the need arises. We promote good maintenance in our inspections and reports for Clients. An understanding of the history and development of a property is key to being able to analyse defects and to find solutions.

Murray Birrell is ideally placed to offer expertise on working with historic buildings through Peter Wade FRICS who is one of a small number of RICS conservation-accredited Surveyors which enables him to work on Scheduled Monuments, Grade 1 and ecclesiastical buildings under the RICS Scheme. This Scheme was formed in 1992 and Peter was in the first group to become accredited. He has worked on Royal Palaces and performance venues and also with English Heritage and the National Trust undertaking Quinquennial Reports. He is also an Almshouse Association Panel Consultant which brings him into contact with Trustees managing historic but tired accommodation requiring upgrading in a sensitive manner but complying with modern day standards.

Two years ago Peter became a London Region RICS Awards Judge looking at conservation projects throughout London and involving a diverse range of buildings from War Memorials to Castles. Peter is also involved in training Surveyors keen to become conservation-accredited. He attends regular Workshops to offer the benefit of his experience.

Currently Murray Birrell are advising a large Country Estate on their Listed buildings including a Grade 1 Listed house and have recently completed projects at various Livery Companies such as the Worshipful Companies of Coopers, Skinners and Barbers. We also work with the Royal Homes Wimbledon owned by SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, which provides challenges of working in a historic building to meet DDA compliance requirements for less-abled veterans.

Here you can find information about some of Murray Birrell’s Building Conservation projects.

Please contact Peter Wade FRICS ( to discuss any relevant project you have relating to historic buildings.

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