Conservation Contracts in the Construction Industry in Ireland
Ireland has more than its fair share of historic buildings, adding to the beauty and interest of our country and attracting visitors from across the world. Protecting our heritage is essential and this means that our historic buildings need to be preserved for the enjoyment of future generations. As our venerated old buildings become older, just like any other building, they need regular repair and maintenance work in order to survive the onslaughts brought by time and adverse weather conditions. While repairing and maintaining a relatively new building is an easy enough proposition, working on these older buildings presents us with more of a challenge requiring the competent tradesperson with specialist skill to undertake specialist construction activity.
In recent years, advancements in technology and progress in materials development have changed the ways in which we work. While so many of us in the construction industry are busy training in new techniques and building methods, we sometimes forget that the old ways of working are being left behind. Skills are being lost as they are no longer needed in modern construction, skills that are vital when it comes to repairing and maintaining our historic buildings.
This means that any construction company that wants to provide repair and maintenance services for historic buildings will need to undergo training in conservation theory among other Heritage courses, in order to register with the Register for Heritage Contractors and secure contracts. Ireland’s Register for Heritage Contractors is a list of skilled companies that are capable of using traditional building skills on the conservation and restoration of heritage properties or sites. Each registered contractor must complete a detailed application which includes examples of Heritage Project work signed off by a qualified professional before being approved for inclusion on the register.
The Register of Heritage Contractors contains two specific lists – a list of Main Contractors and a list of Specialist Contractors. If a company wishes to appear on both lists, two applications are necessary. Main Contractors are able to take on any type of heritage work whilst Specialist Contractors are capable of carrying out work in the category for which they are registered.
All Heritage Contractors are bound by the principles set out in the Heritage Contractors Code of Ethics and have knowledge of conservation theory as well as sufficient practical experience in the following categories:
- Masonry and stonework
- Timberwork and joinery
- Painting and decorative wall finishes
- Specialist crafts
- Building services (required only for specialist contractors, as opposed to general contractors).
There is a requirement that any construction company owner wishing to deal with heritage projects of any type must ensure that one or more members of senior management have adequate knowledge of conservation theory.
CIF Training has a one-day course aimed at construction company owners, principals and directors to satisfy this requirement and ensure that participants have a broad understanding of the underlying principles of conservation and architectural heritage requirements. Attendance at this short course will lead to a greater awareness of the different aspects of heritage projects and a better understanding of how they can meet the needs of both clients and heritage buildings.