Buildings are an integral part of any community’s culture and character. Structures that have stood the test of time contribute to a community’s shared history, provide the backdrop to residents’ lives. But what happens as those buildings age? Should they be saved and repurposed or torn down so new construction can take place?

Sometimes, a venerable building has gone so long without maintenance that there is no choice but demolition. But it is much more satisfying to see them find new life through historic renovation.

As Knoxville structural engineers, the team at Haines Structural group has been part of many historic renovations in our hometown. The Daniel, a more than 100-year-old commercial space transformed into residential lofts, is just one structure we have helped bring into the 21st century during the revitalization of downtown Knoxville.

But why does a historic renovation project need a structural engineer? Here are three ways our expertise can benefit your project.

 1. Safety

Historic buildings are beautiful and impressive, but they are also — frankly — old. Often, they have sat empty and suffered from lack of maintenance. Even if they have been maintained, time and the elements have probably taken their toll. In addition, historic buildings were not built under modern codes. They may have issues that make them unsafe by today’s standards or unsafe for the intended use of the renovator.

A structural engineer can assess all of these issues and, working with the architect, create a plan to address them and ensure the building’s safety.

2. Surprise

Because of their age, there can be a distinct lack of documentation about historic buildings. For example, we have only guesswork as to the exact age of the buildings that make up The Daniel. Without detailed blueprints and documentation, the exact structure and makeup of a historic building can be a mystery, with surprises uncovered once the project is underway.

With a structural engineer on your team, surprises can be addressed quickly and safely as they arise, keeping the project on track.

3. Preservation

The goal of a historic renovation project is to maintain the building’s original character as much as possible. That means finding ways to incorporate the building’s new purpose into the original look-and-feel, identifying modern materials that look like the original materials, and making renovations unobtrusive to the building’s design.

A structural engineer has the expertise to recommend updates with materials and methods that won’t detract from the building’s historic character. In the event that the building is protected by a government designation or historic overlay zone, a structural engineer can work within those requirements, ensuring that the project is in compliance.

If you are looking for an experienced partner for your historic renovation project, the professionals at Haines Structural group would love to hear from you. Just contact Haines online or call us at (865) 329-9920.