The time has almost come for us to start working on one of the biggest projects we’ve ever tackled.
We’ve spent weeks in the planning process for what is going to be a revolutionary update of a truly historical building.
The theatre that we’ve been working on has been closed and empty for the last three years, as such there are a few practical issues that it’s vital that we attend to before we take our refurbishment and renewal plans to the next stage.
When you leave a historic building, such as this one, to it’s own devices for as long as it has been, then you are always going to come across the same kinds of faults and problems. Due to the archaic way in which the building was first constructed, we’ve had to ensure that a complete structural assessment is taken before any real design work can take place.
For these kinds of tests we always try and hire surveyors from outside of the company. We have a number of completely certified surveyors within our ranks, however we always like to bring in niche historical surveying experts to consult, as it is very much the small details that can prove to make the deciding impact when it comes to preparing a final report.
Of course, these things never come cheap.
Indeed, this is part of the reason why so many refurbishments and restorations flounder in the early stages of development. In order to balance concrete scanning costs, independent arts companies often have to lean on public funding, if they don’t receive the results that they are expecting, then the results will invariably be bankruptcy or dissolvement.
We try and offer clients, like our current theatre owners, the option of a free, no-obligation survey in order to offset any initial doubts that they might have about their property, this is also a great opportunity for us to get a peek inside the building at what’s in store for us.
Sometimes owners don’t want to take a closer look at their buildings, seemingly afraid that they might find something that would throw their whole business in jeopardy. On occasions we have found ourselves in a legal bind when we’ve discovered an invasive plant such as Japanese knotweed and have had to inform the client. Unfortunately the legal problems surrounding Japanese knotweed can often prove to be very expensive, but it’s always better to tackle these issues head-on, rather than choosing to ignore them.
As such, there’s always a sense of apprehension amongst the owners when this survey take place: either way that the results go, there are usually thousands of pounds riding on them. If the building’s safe to modify and refurbish, then the owners will have to start to consider how best to proceed, whether they want to continue to work with us or maybe put the design out to tender.
If, however, our external surveyors can not give us the go ahead then the building’s future will be put on a completely different path.
There can be many reasons why our structural surveyors will give us a negative answer. With many of these old buildings, the sheer age of the materials involved could be compromised by time, moisture and wear.
Oak beams can warp over time. Concrete columns, only a couple of decades old, can succumb to damp. Even, sturdy looking stages can prove to have rotten over the course of ten years ago.