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Traditional craftsman work with old or listed buildings, or specialise in using traditional materials. Typical jobs for traditional craftsmen include working with thatched roofs, decorative cornicing and plasterwork to match the style of a particular period, bespoke furniture design, wooden shutters, doors and windows; decorative ironmongery and metalwork, fireplace restoration, stonework and all other work regarding the period restoration of historic buildings.
If work carried out involves the renovation of a period building, you may need the skills of a traditional craftsmen who will use the highest standards to ensure the preservation of original material. For less challenging conservation tasks, there are also courses for the layman, which if nothing else can give you an understanding of what a conservation craftsmen is trying to achieve. However, the majority of period building renovations are carried out by professionals.
The Conservation Register is a database of professional businesses and craftsman throughout the UK and is operated by the UK Institute for Conservation in collaboration with the National Council for Conservation-Restoration and Historic Scotland. For tradesman to be included in the register, various criteria have to be met, including seven years of relevant experience, professional training and qualifications, and references from recent projects in the last five years.
The organisation also has some good general advice on what to look out for when choosing a specialist. The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings is another source of information about traditional craftsman and other conservation specialists. traditional craftsman can be invaluable when it comes to advice on dealing with planning permission and building regulations, most specialists deal with local authorities on a daily basis and are well aware of best practices when it comes to dealing with historic buildings.
Of course you don't need to be the owner of a listed building to use the services of traditional craftsmen, many people appreciate craftsmanship and traditional methods and employ specialists to improve their homes with decorative plasterwork, bespoke furniture design or decorative ironmongery and metalwork.
A traditional thatched roof should last up to 50 years and is largely maintenance free. However, it is advisable to check the roof annually to catch any potential problems early before costs spiral out of control. Thatched roofs offer insulation and aesthetic benefits, as well as retaining value better than conventional buildings, in fact they are so popular that there is an increasing number of new builds using traditional thatched roofs!
These roofs are normally made from long straw, combed wheat reed or water reed, with the reed type determining the style of finish. thatched roof specialists can advise on general maintenance, buying a thatched property, chimneys, flues & fires, materials, roof construction, fire retardants & barriers and thatch fire protection systems.