Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Construction & Restoration

The Royal Exchange

After leaving school, I deferred my study of geology to work for a year as a builder’s labourer and became familiar with many of the various building trades and materials used in the construction industry. I returned to the same job during the holidays and continued to develop practical skills.

Not considering a career as a geologist, I joined the District Valuer, surveying a variety of land and buildings for the government, whilst studying construction, property law, town and country planning, economics, valuation and taxation. 

In Lincolnshire, Derbyshire, South Yorkshire and the surrounding counties, I visited countless historic buildings - undertaking professional surveys and for leisure - and I started to develop an interest in building stones and their weathering characteristics.

I didn’t feel comfortable as a valuation surveyor and decided to move back to London, where I changed direction and worked for Stonewest Ltd for a year. Thrown in at the deep end as a contracts manager, I successfully implemented a wide variety of specifications to clean and restore over 100 buildings - in the year that I spent there.

Stone Cleaning
My duties included the organisation of labour, plant and materials, valuations, estimating and negotiating the final account with the client, upon completion of the work.

Although I had previously acquired a good working knowledge of the various materials and techniques used to construct traditional buildings, I was introduced to a wide range of other building techniques and materials.
I hadn't encountered terracotta or Coade Stone before, nor had I seen lime putty made, and my attention was drawn to the very severe Health & Safety implications of using chemicals like hydrofluoric acid - which I had never seen before in a laboratory or otherwise experienced its extremely corrosive power. 

With many of the buildings being protected for their architectural heritage value, a typical specification would require that all materials used for repair should “match the existing as closely as possible”. This draws attention to the incredible diversity that is found in the colours and textures of traditional building materials – especially stone.

English Heritage

Together with the other skills that I have previously described - whilst establishing Triton Building Restoration Ltd. - I now possess a comprehensive knowledge of the language of stone and I am well placed to help a wide variety of professionals who need a good level of Technical English to further develop their careers.

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