What is Facade Retention?

Our Guide To Facade Retention

After a thorough survey and with a clear method, facade retention can be a valuable part of a demolition and construction project. But what exactly is facade retention, how is it done and what are the benefits? 

This month at Hill Demolition, we’ll cover all of this as well as some additional factors that should be taken into account when going down this route.

What is facade retention?

In simple terms, facade retention is the process of holding up the external walls (or facade) of a building to preserve them, while allowing for the demolition and reconstruction of the internal aspects of the building.

This is now more common thanks to the government’s planning permission changes, allowing for the internal change of use of a lot of older buildings. The process is most commonly used when changing an office or retail building into a residential building.

How is facade retention done?

There are two main ways in which facade retention is carried out, either with support created external to the facade, or with support that sits on the inside of the facade wall.

External to the facade – The ability to carry this out depends on how much room there is in front of the structure, with pavement width a key consideration. It’s the preferred method for facade retention as it allows for the work inside the building to be carried out more easily. 

External facade retention could be created via scaffolding, but this would require a lot of room to secure the stability of the facade with great depth in scaffolding, so often isn’t often feasible. Steel frames made bespoke and triangulated are more common, as they offer robust support without taking up much room. Whalings are then used to grip the internal face of the facade.

Behind the facade – This route is the more difficult of the two due to the need to make holes in floors internally to allow for the supports to be erected. Plus, this makes it more difficult to deliver new construction materials into the building because of how much space it takes up.

The facade retention process:

  • 1. Erection of support frame
  • 2. Connections to the wall
  • 3. Demolition of existing structure internally
  • 4. Creation of a new internal structure

The advantages of facade retention

Facade retention has become increasingly popular, mainly due to the freedom created by planning permission changes, but there are actually some great advantages to the process. Here are just four reasons why a developer might consider facade retention:

  • Preserves the townscape

The character of a building cannot be underestimated for a townscape. Whether it’s the period of the architecture and how it suits the surrounding buildings or the small details that make it worth saving, such as decorative masonry, it’s common for people to want to see this character and style preserved. Facade retention allows for this, since the internal structure can be changed and given new life while still keeping the outward facing aspect of the building that people see the same.

  • Increases potential building volume

A facade may also be kept with the aim of creating more volume internally. Where there may only be three floors to a building currently, the facade can be retained – again, keeping the character – while creating space inside for more floors and possibly with greater coverage.

  • Listed building or in a conservation area

Good buildings and new space are hard to come by, so where there are listed buildings or buildings in a conservation area, facade retention allows for the purpose of the building to be altered or enhanced without breaking regulations. The outside remains the same, but the inside can be put back to good use where needs have changed.

  • Improves structural weakness of the interior

A well-built facade can be kept through retention, while the weaker internal elements can be removed and replaced. This improves the strength of the structure to last into the future while the look of the external facade is kept the same. Ultimately, it helps to prevent the need to tear down all old buildings to be replaced by new and uniform structures.

Other things to consider for facade retention

  • Careful removal of demolition waste – will it need to go through the facade?
  • Is it a corner building? This might make it more important to preserve
  • Roof details – will a roof need to be replicated to retain the same look or is it hidden by a parapet upstand?
  • Have there been any alterations to the ground floor of the structure?
  • Is there a hidden basement underneath the pavement that has been hidden?
  • How feasible is it to detach the facade from the internal structure of the building?
  • Can the facade remain unsupported?
  • Is the wall bonded masonry?
  • Is the wall stone faced and brick backed?
  • Is there a steel frame in the wall?

Here at Hill Demolition, we have the skill and the expertise to handle not only the demolition of the internal structure of a building, but we can also provide safe facade retention. Helping you to meet legal construction requirements and preserve the character of any exterior, we provide reliable and professional service.

For any facade retention project in London, Essex or Hertfordshire, look no further than our team. We are always happy to talk through your plans for repurposing a building and can create a competitive quote to help you plan your project. Call today and speak to a member of our expert team.

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