Ten commandments for a building renovator

1. Renovation work consists mostly of changes, only a little part of it is repairing damages. This makes renovation cheaper and maintains house's historical values. That is why you should think which changes are worth their price. If it looks like your house needs a complete renewal, it is smarter to buy or build a new house.

2. The historical value of an old building is not only its style but also its old material. The more material is removed, the more historical value is lost. New can look like the old one, but it can not be old; a hundred years has passed for a building detail to become a hundred years old. Restoring a demolished part can make the house look better but it does not raise its historical value.

3. Do not repair something that does not need repairing, do not replace something that can be repaired.

4. No repair is final, it is just a new link in a chain. That is why repair work must be repairable – do not use solutions that are impossible to repair later. Mistakes are not made by purpose but they still happen. You also make mistakes. Do not make repairing them too hard.

5. Use the same materials and methods like on the repair object. Genuine aging and ability to stand through time are the good sides of real material. New things belong to new buildings. New styles are old by tomorrow.

6. Most of the damages come from bad maintenance and wrong repairs. Do not neglect maintenance work. Do not believe in materials that do not require maintenance, use materials that are easy to maintain.

7. For a thermal economical repair tightening structures against wind is often enough, it is also easy to add isolation to ceilings. Better wool to the ceiling than to the walls.

8. Accept crookedness and a little unpracticality. Respect different styles and old-fashioned solutions. You do forgive your grandma for her wrinkles.

9. Leave aside style imitations. Do not use material imitations. Bury your dreams of making things as they first were. Changes that are made during the history of an old building are genuine changes.

10. If you have the possibility to infringe these commandments, this means you have enough money to build the house you wish to have. No one has the right to say that a hundred-year-old house is built badly.

First step of repairs:

Observing damages

When diagnosing a complicated illness the doctor asks about the patients complaints, way of life, sends the patients to take tests and then decides on the treatment. When it comes to damages on a building – if it is not a clear case, like a broken window or a leaking roof – you should act as carefully as a doctor. Correctly chosen method of repairs saves the building and money.

Second step of repairs:

Finding the causes for damages

Observing damages is mostly finding the causes for damages. to find the cause you should know when the damage occured. This is in some way observing. If the damage has occured shortly after building, there was a mistake in building. But if a damage acccours in an older house, you need to think about what changes have been made to the house or nearby during last couple of years.

Third step of repairs:

Removing the cause for damages

Removing the cause, if it is possible, is the most important step when renovating. Ignoring it means only a temporary solution. That is why it is so important to find the cause for damages. If a damage is at an early stage, removing the cause can prevent the damage from growing and that could be all you need to do for repairs.

Fourth step of repairs:

Removing damages

Repair work has its own rules. First of all you have to stick to the minimum. Renewing something
“just in case” is not reasonable. Repair work has a tendency to get bigger, then the cost and jobs also get bigger. It is better to follow the things that are inevitable. A repairman thinks about all the things that could

be renewed, but not how to limit the capacity of works. A proper project can help with this.

(Paraphrased from Panu Kaila's book “Majatohter”)