Building renovation consultations
Pirkanmaa Regional Museum provides advice and guidance on the repair and restoration of old and valuable buildings. Free advice is provided by a heritage building engineer and building researchers when necessary.
It is advisable to contact the experts well in advance before undertaking any renovation work. Once possible damages and their causes have been identified, the builder is provided with advice on how to address them. The museum strongly advises buildings to be repaired in a way that respects their distinctive characteristics, using traditional materials and original building parts whenever possible.
Tips on how to deal with common problems are collected in a handbook for traditional construction, published by the museum (in Finnish only). The museum also maintains an artisan database of professionals who specialise in certain types of repairs.
Pirkanmaa Regional Museum supervises the use of repair grants of the National Heritage Agency and the Tampere Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment. It also participates in official decision-making.
Repairing old buildings
Repairing old buildings calls for all kinds of skills and knowledge. The transformation of construction technologies since the Second World War has brought many problems in fitting together old and new techniques.
Current new-build technologies cannot be applied as such in the repair of houses that were constructed using traditional techniques. Repairing old houses requires familiarity with old construction techniques and methods to avoid incorrect repairs.
New houses are no longer built using pre-war techniques, which only increases the historical value of existing old buildings and the need for their preservation.
An old and valuable building should be repaired in a way which ensures its maximum conservation. Instead of decades, the time frame for renovation should be regarded in centuries.
Continuous maintenance is necessary for all buildings. It can considerably extend a building’s life span and may prevent the need for large and costly repairs.
Preserving a building’s character
An old building should be renovated in a way which preserves its character and gives a true idea, even after renovation, of the construction methods of the period if was built. The designs, materials, colours and work methods used in renovation should be historically accurate. Parts and details are very important in imparting a sense of history to a building. It is the doors, windows, fixtures, mouldings and fittings which most often give a building its character. Later additions and alterations are also part of a building’s history, and should not be removed if they otherwise fit the character.
Repairs should be carried out in a way that does not hamper subsequent repairs. Craft-like construction techniques inherently make it easy to alter, replace and remove building parts, so they should be favoured. It is therefore important to use techniques that resemble the original ones, as well as materials that can be removed when necessary without damaging other structures. Joints should not be stronger than structural parts, nor should the adherence of materials and finishings damage their supports.
The goal in repairing an old house should be to make minimal changes. The use of the building should be chosen such that it does not require alteration of existing spaces. The conditions of a functionally sound building – moisture and heating, interior climate and the functions of structures – should be altered as little as possible to avoid further damage.
All structures should be kept breathable if possible. If any structures or materials are altered or changed, a thorough analysis is needed of how the original building part functioned, as well as information on the properties of the new structure and its materials, not to mention careful and competent design.
Designing new spaces, wet rooms in particular, is a task which requires precision and expertise.
Structures and materials
The best way to preserve the character of a building and to avoid damage is to use structures and materials that resemble the originals.
Materials must fit the character of the building visually, but without attempting to imitate the original material. A new material which is distinguishable from the old reflects the style of its period. Renovating an old building calls for knowledge of the properties, functioning, ageing and maintenance of structures and materials used in the renovation.
Information about traditional structures and materials, especially on how they age in practice, is not always available. Many old materials can no longer be obtained, and the safest thing then is to use materials that resemble the originals as closely as possible.
Researching a building and documenting repairs
Before any work is done, the building should be examined carefully. The structural and physical working of the building should preferably be monitored for at least twelve months.
Accurate information about the structures, materials, damages, deficiencies and earlier repairs is necessary for drawing up a renovation plan.
All repairs should be documented in order to facilitate future repairs. Changes are often made in the original plans during the renovation, and design documents should therefore be kept up to date to preserve correct information about the repairs.
Pirkanmaa Regional Museum has established a register of artisans and craftspeople in the Tampere Region who are familiar with built heritage. The database will never be complete, however, and the museum hopes that all those who regard themselves as skilled in some aspect of the built heritage, who know old construction methods, techniques or materials, or who otherwise work to preserve our heritage, will add their names to the database.
The listing is completely free. To add your name to the database, please use the form below. You can also use the form to tell us about a professional artesan whom you know. We will contact them and ask for their permission to be included in the database.