Stone cleaning: a value assessment.
Laing, Richard Alexander
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Buildings are an important record of a country's history and cultural heritage, and make an important contribution to modern cultural identity. Any intervention which changes their appearance, or the manner in which they contribute towards the living environment,should therefore be considered rigorously prior to such intervention being carried out. Stone cleaning has been applied widely to many buildings over a period of more than three decades, producing a varied range of results. This project is concerned with the development of a reliable methodology which can be employed as part of a decision making process, to help ensure that future stone cleaning takes full account of the implications for overall value (overall value is conceived of as the aggregate of financial, environmental and heritage values). Stone cleaning has been completed in the past within an environment where although guidelines of best practice have been available, questions of the resultant value changes have been considered only indirectly through client preference, planning consideration and availability of finance. This project strove to explore the Value system surrounding stone cleaning, and thus provide an assessment mechanism through which value can be considered in the future. Assessment of the financial requirements and implications of stone cleaning indicates strongly that not only are short term gains in financial value uncertain, but that any longer term maintenance requirements as a result of cleaning will be likely to balance those gains. The environmental assessment methodology (using the contingent valuation method) has produced encouraging results, indicating that the level of bid is influenced by both the respondent knowledge of cleaning and the stone type. These provide powerful indicators for use in the overall assessment. Methodologies used previously to assess heritage value have been considered, and an approach developed through which the objective and subjective elements of the value assessment can be related. The approach to overall assessment emanating from this research structures a series of assessments, ensuring that gains in the short term cannot override potential losses over the remaining life cycle. An ultimate aim of all stone cleaning is to enhance the built environment in some respects. The aim of this value assessment is to ensure that cleaning is completed only where an overall gain or benefit in value is attainable.