In recent decades, many old buildings have been abandoned by their owners and have become a burden on their surroundings. In some cases, these buildings are heritage sites or cultural monuments that must be preserved for future generations.
To make them functional again, an alternative approach must be found which involves the rehabilitation of the old or historic building rather than the demolition of a building or parts of it.
What is a historic building and differences with an old building
A historic building is a building that has been designated as historically significant. Historic buildings can be identified by their unique characteristics, including their architecture and the context in which they were built, rehabilitated, or demolished.
The difference between an old building and a historic building is that an old building does not necessarily have any historical significance.
Old buildings are simply buildings that have been erected for several decades, without having to have any special historical significance or importance beyond their own function.
A historic building may also be referred to as a “historic structure,” “museum property,” or “architectural resource.”
Historic buildings are usually designated by a local authority, such as a city or region or county. They may also be appointed by a state, continental or world body. The designation process includes research into the building’s history, interviews with people who know the building, and consideration of the building’s architectural style and integrity.
Factors to rehabilitate and improve the building
The rehabilitation of an old building can be carried out to improve some or all of the aspects and factors that we are going to see below:
1. Increase the energy efficiency of the building
This is the single most important thing you can do to improve the environmental performance of your building. The most common that is rehabilitated in this regard is:
- Replace inefficient heating systems with modern, high-efficiency ones.
- Replace old windows with others with high energy efficiency, improving thermal insulation, a fundamental cause of improvements in energy efficiency.
- Install fans in rooms that need them to help cool them down and reduce air conditioning costs.
2. Improving the comfort of the building
To improve the comfort of the house or building you can:
- Add acoustic insulation to ceilings and walls.
- Install a programmable thermostat to automatically adjust the temperature in your home based on your schedule.
- Improve indoor air quality.
- Improve lighting installation by switching to LED.
3. Improving the security of the building
It is another common factor in the renovation of an old house, since the technology used in other times was obviously very inferior in performance, in addition to the fact that insecurity increases over the years. To rehabilitate an old house and improve its security, the following can be done, for example:
- Install locks on all doors and windows.
- Install motion detectors to alert you when someone enters your home, or install an intrusion alarm system.
- Create a safe room for your family in case of an emergency, better known as a panic room.
- Install security shutters and remove bars. Something that has been done quite frequently lately. To install these security shutters, you must remove the old ones and modify their drawer, since the security shutters are larger and require a larger drawer.
- Install access control systems with proximity cards, fingerprints, license plates…
4. Improve accessibility for people with reduced mobility
Another common factor in the request to reform or rehabilitate an old house or building is to improve accessibility for people with reduced mobility.
Basically the improvements in this aspect consist of:
- Build ramps for wheelchairs or improve general accessibility by removing obstacles such as stairs.
- Implementation of grab barsin locations that require them.
- Install stairliftsfor infrastructures that cannot install lifts or ramps to replace the steps.
5. Improving the sustainability of the building
This section could well be linked to the improvement of energy efficiency, but here we would not only talk about energy savings, but also savings in natural resources.
To do this you could:
- Repair and reinstall new water conduction infrastructures to avoid uncontrolled losses.
- In common areas, install equipment that saves water such as double-shot cisterns, outlet restriction nozzles for taps or timers for taps.
6. Improving the aesthetics of the old building
Another very influential factor when carrying out rehabilitation is the aesthetic improvement that occurs when deteriorated materials disappear and are replaced by new ones.
To improve this aspect we can find:
- Improve the appearance and feeling of belonging to the community, respecting heritage values.
- Remove unsightly items such as weeds growing in sidewalk cracks or peeling paint on exterior walls.
- Add attractive elements such as planting flowers around the building or adding decorative lighting.
- Repair or replace elements that are deteriorating over time.
Rehabilitate an old house to save the environment
As we indicated in the improvement of energy efficiency or sustainability, you can act in favor of the environment in many ways.
Energy consumption and waste can be reduced by:
- Reduce electricity use. You’ll save money and it’s better for the environment.
- Recycle as much as possible. It’s a good habit, but it also helps reduce pollution in general.
- Use less water or turn off the tap when you’re done washing your hands or brushing your teeth (or even while you’re doing it).
Maintaining tradition and culture in a refurbishment of an old house
A historic building is an integral part of a community, and must be preserved for future generations to enjoy.
A historic building is often considered to be an embodiment of local or national culture, history and tradition.
Preservation of a historic site can help maintain these values by providing a space for cultural activities that are relevant to the history and heritage of the area. This will ensure that people continue to have access to their own cultural identity, as well as promote social cohesion within communities by encouraging interaction between different groups in society.
Promote local economic development through tourism. Most of the old buildings are associated with stories about past events; these stories can help visitors understand their meaning without having been present during their time period.
For example, if you visit the entire area of Normandy in France, you will see innumerable buildings and infrastructures, many of them rehabilitated, reminiscent of the Second World War and everything that happened there in reference to that matter. Today it is a huge tourist attraction and is a true World Heritage Site.
It will create a better environment and atmosphere
Rehabilitating a historic building creates a better environment and atmosphere. When an old structure is restored, it becomes more attractive to people who want to live in an old environment.
This can increase the property value of your home or commercial building. Also, renovating a historic building shows that you care about the environment by not tearing down existing structures just because they need some repairs or updates.
In conclusion, it is obvious that the rehabilitation of historic buildings is very beneficial for society and should be promoted before demolition and reconstruction.
Site and Field, as an expert international or national rehabilitation company, can study any case and provide a solution with the help of our expert architects and engineers.