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Repair Using Replacement Materials

When you carry out repairs, we encourage the use of authentic and appropriate materials. They are fundamental to the historic integrity of buildings and in most cases are the most suitable in terms of performance.

Changes of material

We discourage the use of new materials where their long-term performance is not known. If you are proposing a change of material for any of the main external elements of your building, you may need planning permission and listed building consent or denominational consent. See our Getting Permission to Make Changes page for more information.

We would not oppose changes of material where the existing material is inappropriate and the replacement would reinforce the significance of the building, for instance the removal of cement render from external walls and replacement with lime render.

Image of a church spire undergoing high-level repairs to the stonework involving scaffolding.
In the repair of historic buildings, Historic England encourages the use of authentic and appropriate materials. We discourage the use of new materials the long-term performance of which is not known. © Ian Simpson

Metal theft

The same general principle applies when replacing stolen metal roof coverings. Like-for-like replacement following theft is highly desirable but may not always be prudent. We will not support the pre-emptive removal of lead from roofs not affected by theft unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Each case will need to be judged on its own merits and we appreciate that sometimes a change of material should be considered following a theft in order to ensure the long  term future of the building.

Our advice note Metal theft: prevention, response and recovery sets out our approach to metal theft and provides more detailed information.

Sourcing traditional materials

There is now a wide variety of suppliers of many different types of material for traditional construction: lime for mortars; hair for plasters; clay roofing tiles and so on. Details can be found in specialist directories such as The Building Conservation Directory.

Your local conservation officer may be able to help in sourcing a material that is particular to your area, such as a type of brick that was produced locally, or a particular type of stone. You may wish to look at our page on Sourcing Traditional Materials.

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