A discussion about our work with Grade II Listed buildings

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By Chris Jones

Published on: 15-11-2019

Marketing Manager at Sheridan Lifts and chief blogger!

It struck me this week that we do quite a lot of work within Grade II Listed Heritage buildings, and I was curious to discover how working within the confines of these buildings might differ from our regular projects.

Two such recent projects are at the Redfern Building in Manchester and at 55 Faulkner Street in Chinatown.

Turns out that in the UK there are 3 grades of heritage listed building including Grade 1, Grade II* and Grade II. According to Historic England, the most common of these is the latter – Grade II Listed buildings account for 92% of all listed buildings in this country.

There are several differentials between working within listed buildings and working with regular buildings. The first of these concerns the heightened importance of the dilapidation report.

I sat down with our Projects Manager Mas’ud Mallick who enlightened me a little more.

Mas Mallick of Sheridan Lifts

“A dilapidation report is like an inventory of the structural make up and contents of the building. This report is usually signed off by the building manager and the supplier (us) prior to any works commencing” Mas told me.

“We then have to work extremely carefully to ensure the building is as undisturbed as it can feasibly be”

“Heritage buildings unlike regular buildings always demand that the focus is very much on restoration rather than replacement. Anything that might need to be removed from the site has to be signed off by both the heritage council and usually the city or county council too. And its never our place to decide what is or isn’t important.

Example of a Grade II Listed Building in Merseyside, UK

Anything deemed preservable would often be displayed in some way within the building”

It’s a procedure which requires careful and sensitive project management and does occasionally throw us the odd curve ball.

“One time when I was working abroad, there was a piece of wooden beam within the lift shaft, and we had to obtain permission to remove this to allow for our equipment. Even the smallest things like that have to be adhered to”

“On another occasion when I was working in Sydney, my company at the time was replacing a lift made by another manufacturer. The brief stated that the brass finishes from the old lift had to be fitted into the cabin as part of the custom interior (to the extent of losing a few kilos off the max load of the lift).

As well as this, the original company name was to be fitted flush into the ground at the sill at ground floor level (this was completed by another company). The nibs could not be touched as it was the original finishing from late 1800/early 1900 and as a result, the LOPs (landing pushers) had to be fitted in a special housing into the adjacent wall”

Naturally the reputation of businesses are at stake when you work with heritage buildings, as they are with all projects – but what I gleaned from my chat with Mas was that there’s certainly a degree of heightened respect and a very tuned in mindset required when working on these kinds of projects.

I popped in to see one of our Directors Nick Beetson for his thoughts, too.

Nick Beetson of Sheridan Lifts

“Alterations to Grade II Listed buildings are always the last resort” he confirmed

“Original features must always remain untouched and there are strict penalties in place for companies if any damages occur”

Nick went on to tell me about a solution that we have in place for older or older looking lifts.

“Something else that often crops up when we work within older buildings, is that clients want to keep the original look and feel of their lifts, often to mirror the buildings they’re situated in. We work with several wooden lifts and lifts with wooden doors, and likewise some clients just want to change the aesthetics of their lift. We’ve got a great solution for those clients.

“We are working with cosmetics company that can provide a vinyl design to mirror the original aesthetics of a building. These materials effectively provide a sympathetic upgrade whilst allowing us to modernise the core functions of the lift car.

Here’s an image below from our supplier.

Image provided with permission from Surfex Coverings

Hopefully this gives you a bit more insight into the world of Grade II Listed buildings, and how companies like ourselves are selected for our honesty, integrity and professionalism when carrying out these sensitive works.

Hope you enjoyed the read!

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