CJ consulting
CJ consulting

Struggling with your old building...

Below are practical examples of how you could benefit from the added value of a Specialist Conservation Architect through CJ consulting (CJC) but if you have a particular issue, please do not hesitate to get in contact

Banging your head with your planning/conservation officer or perhaps struggling with various heritage bodies ? 

CJC can support you by ‘talking’ the same language through knowledge of the relevant policies and issues involved.  By understanding the needs of the building and what you are trying to achieve, CJC can advise on the most appropriate solution and provide additional information required to demonstrate that your proposal has addressed the concerns raised.  Even if you already have an agent, CJC will work alongside to try and move things forward for you.  This support also extends to ongoing or completed work where you may be facing stop notices or retrospective applications.

Being asked for a Heritage Statement ?

Heritage Statements became a statutory requirement for applications for Listed Building and Conservation Area consent in Wales on 1st September 2017.   You may also find them referred to as Conservation Statements, Heritage Impact Assessments, Justification but essentially they are a means of managing changes to heritage.   They should be prepared by a qualified and competent expert such as CJ consulting and generally comprise the following information:  


  • Statement of Significance
  • Objectives of what you are trying to achieve
  • Clearly defined proposals including a brief schedule of works and photographs 
  • Justification explaining the options considered, reasons for your preferred approach and any mitigation measures proposed to minimise impact
  • Heritage Impact Assessment based upon Cadw Conservation Principles.  This essentially identifies the potential benefits or harm of your proposal as well as impact on neighbouring designated buildings/sites
  • Access Statement describing how your proposals provide reasonable access with the least detrimental impact upon significance


You may need to provide other supporting information such as drawings, condition survey, structural report, ecological report, archaeological investigation etc.  A Statement of Significance is a description of the history and value of your heritage.  It helps define how and why your site/building is important and is a crucial first step in managing a historic asset.  Cadw Conservation Principles identifies four values which should to be considered:

  1. Evidential: physical clues which indicate how and when the site/building was made and changed over time.  Sources include visible fabric itself as well as concealed archaeology plus documentary sources such as maps, photographs, historical archives
  2. Historical: how the site/building illustrates a particular way of life, event or person
  3. Aesthetic: sensory effects including the setting and views to and from the site/building
  4. Communal: commemorative, symbolic or spiritual meaning the building/site has for people and the part played in cultural or public life

Want to alter or extend your listed building and not sure how to go about getting the necessary consents ?  

As part of an application for listed building consent, you will need to provide evidence to demonstrate that your proposals are the least intrusive option for both immediate needs and the longer term.  CJC will help you understand the significance of your site (how and why it is special) to develop sensitive solutions based upon an assessment of their impact.  A transparent record of decision making is an essential part of complying with the legislation and policies protecting your building.  A good design which adds value based upon logical reasoning and justification is therefore far more likely to gain support. 

Worried about the extensive work your builder says you need to have done ?  

You should always seek multiple advice from suitably experienced contractors with relevant references.  CJC doesn’t sell any products or construction work however and will provide you with an unbiased professional opinion on the actual defect, appropriate works and how to comply with statutory requirements.  CJC can also help you acquire the necessary skilled craftsmen for the work or guide your chosen contractor in the right direction.  If you need a second opinion following advice from your designer, CJC can help here too. 

Need advice on how to properly care for your building ?  

CJC can undertake a condition survey and report with prioritised repair schedules and estimated costs.  The survey can be a one off or reoccurring commitment say every 4-5 years.  Such work provides reassurance to building owners, informs construction work and planned maintenance.  CJC uses knowledge of best conservation practice together with experience of tried and tested solutions when recommending work.  CJC has gained a unique understanding of the decay mechanisms in Wales through long term inspection and monitoring.  Such guidance together with committed appropriate care, should maximise the durability of your valuable building and reduce lifecycle costs.

Heard of ‘sustainability’ and ‘retrofitting’ but wonder how this is applicable to historic buildings ?  

There is a bewildering array of products and methods aimed at reducing carbon and energy use.  Most offer a one fit all solution however that pays no regard to the long term effects that could devalue your property.  CJC will help you by going through the options available and highlight the likely impact and risk to historic fabric so that you can make informed decisions.  Proposals for a traditional building (whether listed or not) must be undertaken holistically and on each individual basis.  CJC offers impartial advice with practical solutions based upon current thinking and proven results. 

Daunted by the complexity or perhaps never undertaken a building project before ? 

CJC has a wealth of practical experience taking diligent care of buildings and helping people with their building projects from concept to completion.  Work on historic structures is challenging often requiring multidisciplinary teams which CJC can lead.  CJC will support and guide you through the maze so that your ideas can be converted into built form with minimal impact upon your historic fabric.  This should give reassurance and confidence to all concerned that your project is appropriately resourced.


A typical project involves the following sequence:

  • Initial investigations such as measuring your building, looking at its condition, getting specialist reports

  • Defne your requirements and develop some intial ideas with sketches

  • Review design options, assess impacts and estimate cost (this process may be repeated as required to reach the agreed final design)

  • Submit a pre-application and discuss the scheme with the relevant people 

  • Make application for grant

  • Submit application for planning permission, listed building consent etc.

  • Develop the technical design with input from others such as structural engineers, energy assessors

  • Submit building regulations application

  • Comply with any conditions imposed through planning and building regulations

  • Prepare documentation to enable quotations or tenders to be obtained 

  • Review contractor response and prepare contract documents for signature

  • Hold pre-contract meeting 

  • During the construction phase: undertake periodic site visits, issue instructions to the contractor, prepare valuations and issue payment certificates, assess claims for cost and extensions of time, hold regular review meetings

  • Completion and handover of the health and safety file

  • Depending on the type of building contract, there may be a period following occupation where the contractor can reutrn to site to make good any defects before the final payment is handed over

Interested in your building history ?  

CJC can undertake research to reveal your building’s past and how it evolved to changing circumstances.  This process involves an understanding of social history through notably people, events or movements.  Your unique building fabric also contains physical clues which CJC can decipher using local knowledge of historical materials and construction techniques.

Forced to make alterations through building regulations ?  

CJC can advise on caveat areas in this legislation which may be relaxed where compliance unacceptably alters character or appearance and for technical reasons, whether the building is listed or not.  Commonplace difficulties arise from services, structure, sound, access, fire, control of moisture and thermal efficiency.  CJC avoids the rigid application of approved document solutions by looking at the underlying purpose of the regulation and applying this in a  manner more appropriate for your building.   CJC can provide justification to building control to enable them to issue that completion certificate.

Got a logistically challenging project ?  

The infrastructure required to work on old buildings is often more significant that the work itself with churches and castles in particular having their own unique set of challenges.    Physical restrictions from ancient fabric, site location and surrounding modern development can be problematic.  Protected species and ecological habitats often impose constraints whilst commercial pressures force many to work on occupied sites.  CJC can develop specific construction methodologies for working in such difficult circumstances with mitigating measures such as construction sequence, designated areas and temporary protection.  CJC also has specific experience of helicopter delivery, specialist scaffolding and cherry picker access.  CJC design solutions will be practical not only for initial ease of construction but for future maintenance with due regard for health and safety.

Bombarded by a long list of conditions before you can start work ?  

CJC can provide assistance in the form of drawn or photographic recording, building details, methodologies for construction, as built drawings and revised heritage impact assessments.  CJC offers a trained eye so the information provided actually reflects what is required on site.  Applicants often use the phrase such as ‘like for like’ or’ to match existing’ with insufficient detail which usually results in additional conditions.  CJC can advise on suitable alternatives and provide the appropriate justification where it is not possible to replicate traditional materials and detailing.

Purchased a vacant old building with the intention to put back into use ? 

CJC can support your venture on all aspects following recognised conservation principles which will help you gain funding and statutory consents.  Although this process can take years, CJC can provide long term commitment.  CJC can undertake investigations into immediate need as well as help you gain public participation or support through media and open days.  CJC can help you address health and safety issues, implement emergency repairs and protect ecology through early dialogue and phased statutory consents.  CJC can advise on appropriate measures to protect against weather, fire, intrusion, vandalism, theft, control of invasive vegetation and unwanted animal entry.  Temporary protection also requires careful design to avoid damage from wind uplift, water diversion or damage from future removal whilst providing important ventilation and humidity control. 

Embarrassed by the lack of access and ease of use ? 

The regulations require ‘reasonable’ adjustments to be made to historic buildings to ensure access for all.  CJC can undertake an access audit on your behalf and advise on what such ‘reasonable’ measures may entail for wheelchair access and other disabilities.  CJC can develop innovative, imaginative design solutions and consult with relevant heritage and access bodies to come up with a low impact final solution.  Physical alteration is not always necessary however as improvements can be made through simple managerial procedures.

Developing a building/site which requires some sensitivity ?

CJC expertise and considered approach is applicable to almost all development which has to respond to surrounding context.  Working in a conservation area, within the curtilage of a listed building or historic setting requires particular empathy and awareness but there are many non designated buildings that deserve special care and attention too.  CJC can create a positive impact through appropriate scale, form and materials whether it is a traditional or modern design.  Any CAD monkey can churn out drawings but creating a sense of place requires skill.  CJC offers more than bespoke drawings with a passion for our existing surroudings which can transform the opinion of those determining statutory applications. 

Planning to project manage the construction phase ?

Your building is likely to be the largest investment you’ll ever make so consider carefully whether you have the necessary skills and experience to care for it at such a crucial time.  Before any construction work takes place, CJC can prepare documentation which clearly defines the work in terms of its scope and specification including health and safety information and contractual arrangements.  CJC can help you select suitable builders, obtain quotations or undertake a formal tender procedure.  CJC can provide advice on building contracts and administer them on your behalf to minimise the risk of disputes and defects.  CJC can undertake site visits to monitor site safety and progress against programme, inspect workmanship and materials and check compliance with statutory obligations.  Changes during construction are common place and CJC can keep track of costs and agree variations, specify alternatives, co-ordinate input from others and renegotiate statutory consents.  Such professional support will help successfully deliver your project quality on time and to budget. 

Need to obtain grant funding ?

CJC has the conservation accreditation required by grant giving bodies such as English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund and will work collaboratively with others to secure finance for your project.  CJC has experience of other grant sources too and can provide support in complying with various procurement methods and grant conditions throughout the duration of your project.

Need to provide a Conservation Management Plan ?

Since 1998, the Heritage Lottery Fund has requested applicants prepare a Conservation Management Plan for major developments.  It is a strategic document however which can help inform future management and development on any historic asset.  The plan should be prepared by suitable persons with conservation training and experience such as CJ consulting.  Whilst the plan contents will vary for each site/building, it generally contains the following:


  • Statement of significance which may include chronological information and visual representations of significance
  • Gazetteers which may comprise photographs or maps and drawings
  • Analysis of the opportunities, risks or threats to heritage
  • Policies or practical guidelines on how the significance can be retained from day to day basis as well as any future major redevelopment. Issues such as management, access and environmental change etc. are also explored
  • Maintenance plan


A good Conservation Plan will be subject to consultation and input from several multidisciplinary sources.  It may be supported by other studies and reports such as archaeological analysis, condition surveys, structural reports, ecological surveys, scientific investigation, community consultation, business plans.

Need a change of use to create future prosperity ?  

Whilst it is essential for the survival of a building for it to remain in occupation, there is often a tension between conservation and other interests which needs a balanced approach.  CJC will positively manage such change to help sustain heritage values whilst creating economic and social viability.  Unlocking development potential requires greater flexibility and problem solving skills compared to new build.  Following an analysis of your building, CJC will explore options through a feasibility study in order to achieve general consensus against criteria such as maintenance, sustainability, capital and lifecycle costs, archaeological or ecological impact, reversibility, technical challenges, aesthetics, etc.

Working with lime — can you spot experience ?

There are different types of lime available and many will not be suitable for your project.  The mix is another minefield, particularly if you are trying to match an existing mortar.  Even if you’re confident about the latter, you will need to consider other factors such as building materials and construction type, time of year, building location and orientation as well as detailing and condition of fabric.  Couple all this with poor site workmanship and it’s no wonder jobs regularly go wrong.  Lime is a marvellous material but it needs experience and an understanding of its limitations so that expectations can be realistically managed.  CJC can provide advice, specifications and comment upon defective work with c.20 years lime experience and as a longstanding member of the Building Limes Forum.

Planning restoration or replacement ?

The motivation behind speculative work will always be questioned given the potential to compromise authenticity.  Ideally the feature has been lost due to natural decline and not some historic event.  Such work should preferably be concentrated to part of the building and informed by physical evidence.  CJC can make a compelling case for restoration by analysing your building to sufficiently understand impact and develop proposals that will enhance its evolution.  When faithful restoration or replacement is not feasible, CJC can record detail and demonstrate alternatives which can be undertaken without harm and minimal impact.  All layers of history are important and should be respected either as parts, the whole and as a setting.  CJC understands how to treat each layer and will provide new designs that won’t diminish your heritage or prejudice future alternative solutions.

Interested in CJC conservation philosophy ?

CJC believes all layers of a building should be respected because our values change with time.  What is unimportant today may be invaluable in the future.  Although we all have a responsibility to keep work to the minimum for the building to survive, it must be allowed to evolve without sacrificing earlier work too.  Repairs can be sympathetically beautiful, informative and add more value.  You may be suprised how much can be repaired with wrotten pieces of timber replaced, patches of plaster and pointing reinstated, cracked masonry stitched together, floor tiles and roofing slates salvaged etc.  New work should always be made to fit the old with sagging or bulging from age left uncorrected so that as much of the older building can survive.  Tried and tested materials and techniques should also be used for as long as possible so that these skills can pass down the generations.  Like for like repairs will ensure diversity and important regional differences are also conserved.  There is still so much we can learn from the past and CJC is not afraid to improve existing detail where past failures risk a buildings future.  Innovation should be limited to low risk areas however where such work can be monitored and reversed.  CJC firmly believes that new buildings should be clearly of their time with the difference between old and new celebrated.  Sensitivity can be achieved without making something look older than it is. 

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