BS 7913 Guide to the conservation of historic buildings has now been published and was officially launched at Somerset House on the 10th March 2014 . This is the only authoritative national UK guide and EH has developed training based on this Standard. It goes beyond the usual issues such as conservation ethics and authentic materials, to issues such as ensuring optimum quality of conservation work and appropriate property management.

The lead author and chair of the drafting panel is EH Director John Edwards: “This standard is for all traditional buildings and not just those which are Listed” said Edwards. “It is aimed at everybody and not just the specialist and this is particularly important as most of those dealing with older buildings in the UK are from the mainstream part of the industry and deal with a quarter of the UK building stock which is traditionally built. “This guide provides valuable up to date information and sign posts to where additional information can be found”.

Whilst there are many notable features of the guide, the need to properly plan and manage issues ranging from significance to the quality of work stands out as a critical ingredient in the conservation process.

This new guide attempts to blend the different requirements of all UK home nations and was prepared by a panel containing a broad range of experts from around the UK which included home nation heritage bodies and professional institutions. As Edwards explains, the process of creating the standard was very challenging: “Although a range of organisations and disciplines were represented on the panel, the consultation process brought about many diverse and conflicting views and we just had to take a balance and come up with a document that takes account of the many views expressed”.

This standard replaces the first edition of BS 7913 published in 1998. Edwards added: “Since 1998 the approach to conservation has changed somewhat, with a greater emphasis on a broader range of issues coming under the heading of what we call significance which is well described by organisations such as English Heritage and Cadw in their published conservation principles. “Other issues such as climate change, energy efficiency and sustainability are also now firmly part of the conservation agenda and are therefore included within this standard”.