Historic homes offer artistry and craftsmanship that is hard for modern homes to match. At Orata Engineering, we understand how important it is to maintain the historic charm of a Calgary masonry building. That is why our Calgary team of highly trained envelope engineers have put together a list of things to consider before renovating a historic masonry building.

Evaluating the Masonry Building’s Current Condition

Before you attempt any renovations to your historic masonry building, you should first have the condition of your building properly assessed. Bringing in an expert consultant to evaluate your building’s condition is a great way to ensure that you know about all of your buildings problems before you begin renovating. An expert consultant will check for any issues to the foundation, structural soundness, toxic materials (lead, asbestos, etc.), the quality of existing plumbing and electrical, water damage, and more.

Keeping the Masonry Building’s Historic Features

When planning out the renovation for your historic masonry building, you should make sure that all of your renovation projects are in keeping with the natural beauty, warmth, and artistry of the building. Try to make sure that your historic building renovation only adds to the building’s overall historic appeal and value rather than detracting from it. Any change or renovation you are considering should not damage, remove, or distract from the original character of the building.

Interior Vs. Exterior Insulation

You should always proceed with caution when planning on insulating a historic masonry wall because certain insulation can make the wall more vulnerable to freeze/thaw damage.

When trying to assess the vulnerability of an existing masonry building to freeze/thaw damage, try to follow these important points:

  • Most existing masonry buildings can be insulated on the interior
  • The colder the climate, the greater the risk of freeze/thaw damage
  • The thicker the insulation, the greater the risk of freeze/thaw damage
  • Some bricks are more vulnerable to freeze/thaw damage than others
  • Insulating the interior of a masonry building can result in the ends of wood joists and beams that are embedded in the exterior walls rotting

The best way to avoid the problems listed above is to insulate the masonry building on the exterior. One exterior insulation option is to cover the walls with EIFS (a thin layer of rigid foam covered with synthetic stucco); however, if you do not want to cover up the outside of your building, the only other real option is to make sure that interior insulation will work for your building.

Hiring a Professional Historic Building Renovation Expert

The best way to ensure that your renovation goes smoothly and that you have chosen the right type of insulation for your building is to hirer a professional historic building renovation expert. Hiring an expert is always a great way to ensure that you do not damage or lose any of the historic architectural features of the building because once those features are lost, you might not be able to get them back again.

If you would like to learn more things to consider before renovating a historic masonry building, please contact the envelope engineers at Orata Engineering at 403-512-6065 or by filling out a form on our website. Our professional team of engineers can help you with your next historic masonry building renovation, giving you piece of mind that your building will retain its historic charms while becoming more functional. For the latest news and updates, you can also follow Orata Engineering on Twitter and LinkedIn.