Conservation – PAYE Stonework and Restoration
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PAYE Conservation

PAYE Conservation offer a refined service to Conservation Architects, Trusts & Bodies (such as Historic England and The National Trust) and a range of private clients looking to preserve and protect historic buildings and their contents. We have a complete range of in-house skills and as such are expert and proficient at providing everything from initial specialist Consultancy services through to the complete delivery of complex Conservation and Restoration projects.


Our works can and often include:

  • Advisory works and Consultancy
  • Emergency on-site response following collapse/fire/flood etc
  • Report writing/scheduling (for tendering and grant aiding)
  • Condition survey report writing
  • Defect scheduling
  • Material analysis and interpretation
  • The development of specifications for tender
  • Project management
  • Hands on specialist conservation and restoration works
  • Undertaking works as both main contractor and specialist sub-contractor
PAYE Conservation of Historic Monument
Careers – PAYE Stonework and Restoration - Stonemasons, Surveyors ...

What is Building Conservation?

Building Conservation is the applied science developed to safeguard and protect the built heritage ensuring its availability and accessibility to both present and future generations. Conservation can encompass a number of differing approaches, being; preventive conservation, remedial conservation and restoration. These three very different disciplines are often necessary to intertwine and are regularly applied together to project work. Practicing conservation requires the application of judgement guided by professional ethics and the confines of public policy.

Preventative Conservation

Preventative conservation is the introduction of non-interventional measures and actions aimed at avoiding and minimising future deterioration or loss. These measures and actions are indirect – they do not interfere with the materials and structures of the items and do not affect or change their appearance. A preventative conservation approach can often relate to the management of the immediate environment (light, humidity, pollution and pest control), but can include education on storage, handling, packing and transportation, security, emergency planning, education of staff, public awareness and legal compliance. Paye Conservation are expert in all areas

Remedial Conservation

Remedial Conservation relates to all actions directly applied to a building or object at arresting or slowing the current damaging processes it is subject to. Remedial actions are only carried out when the object/substrates are in such a fragile condition or are deteriorating at such a rate, that they could be lost in a relatively short time. These interventions are intended to be minimal but may sometimes effect on the appearance.

Our Conservation Philosophy

Complexities will exist within each specific project and whilst not a rigid set of rules to adhere to; PAYE Conservation try with their best endeavours, to apply the following general philosophy of approach to project work:


  • Wherever possible, a philosophy of minimal intervention is adhered to
  • Wherever possible, any intervention should be reversible
  • Wherever possible, like for like repairs will be carried out and any “foreign” materials introduced, kept to an absolute minimum.
  • Wherever possible, new repairs should not disturb the aesthetics of the architecture, but under scrutiny from a specialist be visible
  • Wherever possible, all replacements/repairs should only be carried out with the assistance of documentary evidence; no speculative works should be undertaken
  • When cleaning an object/building, care should be taken not to over clean – a developed natural patina should not be completely lost allowing the building/object to retain an air of historic integrity
  • Historic repairs (where not proving deleterious in causing damage to the building/object) may be retained


To discuss a particular issue or project, please contact Robert Greer on 020 8857 9111 or email Robert here


PAYE Conservation Specialisms

Click on the specialism, below, to read a detailed overview of the service.

Stonework and Mortars

Stonework restoration and the conservation principles applied to it have always played a part at the centre of our business. With our dedicated team of experienced stone conservators, this role can come to the fore when required. Analysis of material plays a key role in this understanding.


Analysis & Surveying
Identifying stone and mortars. Detailing decay mechanisms. Chemical analysis undertaken to establish constituent parts and probable ratios to allow for close reproduction of historic mortars (matching colour, texture and permeability).


Preventative Works
Often the key to preventive works is managing the impact of environmental factors, including the removal of moss and algaes – which may harbour moisture and exacerbate decay.


Remedial Works
The majority of our work in this area revolves around the removal of inappropriate mortars and repairs. Cement was used in such abundance over the last 100 years and most of our work now requires its removal and replacement with a more appropriate lime medium.


Plaster comes in many forms, from stucco render to lime plaster and fibrous plaster. All aspects are comfortably considered as natural materials for PAYE Conservation and as such we are adept in conserving and restoring all variations.


Lime plaster – Often referred to as ‘3 coat work’ or ‘Lath & Plaster’ this is traditional plastering found in most buildings. It is comprised of lime putty and sand and often included the addition of animal hair. Generally phased out and replaced with the use of modern materials from the 1920’s onwards.


Fibrous Plaster – By definition Fibrous Plaster is cast plaster reinforced with a fibrous material such as jute or canvas. The great benefit of fibrous work is that it is perfect for repeat moulding, can be completed offsite and it relatively easy to handle and install.


Rendering – can be completed with a variety of materials and include a variety of recipes. It can also utilise a number of differing methods of application.


Analysis & Surveying
PAYE are often commissioned to complete condition surveys of plasterwork and called upon to comment on existing structural integrity. This is generally completed by combining observations with an experienced ‘hands on’ approach. Analysis can be employed to establish materials used and ratios of constituent parts.


Preventative Works
Environmental monitoring and maintenance of the building envelope are key considerations when looking to prolong the life of plasterwork. PAYE Conservation are proficient at identifying areas of concern or require intervention.


Remedial Works
Can be everything from the introduction of minimal stabilisation works to wide scale restoration where an area has been lost or is damaged. As the disciplines of Conservation and Restoration are so closely entwined, it is essential to have the skill base to not only complete holding works, but also to then be able to undertake larger scale repairs often remodelling lost detail by hand.


As a result of our artistic backgrounds (many conservators find conservation following studies via Fine Art or Classics degrees) our workforce has an innate appreciation of classical sculpture and architecture. Understanding the iconography together with the materials they are constructed from makes us best prepared for completing both conservation and restoration. Our surveying of the material is critical to this and often influences whether a piece requires intervention or is stable and can be maintained. We are also well experienced at handling, packing and transporting pieces from various locations around the country including to and from Museums and Art Galleries.


Analysis & Surveying
Condition surveys are a key requirement in the long-term protection of statuary works. These surveys will often contextualise the object, note areas of concern, previous interventions and external factors which may influence the ongoing stability of pieces. Statuary is also routinely surveyed if it is to go out on loan (with observations noted and recommendations made for transportation).


Preventative Works
As with our works described under ‘Artworks’, our advisory works take into consideration the monitoring and (where possible) maintenance of a stable environment. This can sometimes; for in-situ works, include the influence of external forces, such as encroaching trees or shrubs. Advising on the maintenance of the environment can often be enough to prevent the necessity of any remedial works.


Remedial Works
Where remedial works are required, we are sensitive to the nature of any intervention. Stabilising an object is our principle aim and this is often centred around the removal of later deleterious ‘repairs’ which are actually the cause of breakdown. No works are undertaken without careful consideration to the context and history of the piece and documentation of works before, during and afterwards is essential.


From Roman archaeology to modernist examples, we are well experienced with developing strategies for conservation and restoration. From removal of inappropriate mortars applied in the 20th century to stabilising the substrate behind PAYE have a team of specialists who can help.


Analysis & Surveying
Surveying would normally take the form of non-intrusive visual recording combined with ‘tap testing’ (to establish any delamination). These findings can then where appropriate be supported with the addition of intrusive testing (opening up works through to chemical analysis). The interpretation of these findings is then often enough to guide a strategy of stabilisation and/or repair.


Preventative Works
Often the single most important preventative approach to conserving external mosaics will be in the maintenance of the building envelope and limiting water ingress. Once water has penetrated a façade, freeze/thaw actions only exacerbate this further. Internal pieces require the maintenance of a stable environment too – as jumps in temperature and Relative Humidity can also have a deleterious effect. PAYE are competent at both monitoring and providing advisory guidance where required.


Remedial Works
As described above, if preventative works have been completed and failure has already occurred, then it is paramount that these elements are addressed to prevent at the earliest possible juncture to prevent a wider scale of works developing. Remedial works to older examples are often in relation to the removal of previous inappropriate repairs. Techniques have therefore been developed over time to work on a wide variety of mediums and in a variety of contexts

Terracotta / Faience

We have a wealth of experience in dealing with both Terracotta & Faience. Conservation can take the form of introducing preventative measures to safeguard longevity, repair and reconstruction of damaged elements through to the reinstatement of damaged lost specialist glazes.


Analysis & Surveying
Identifying defects and understanding causes are essential for developing the most appropriate conservation and maintenance strategies. We have completed numerous Faience & Terracotta works and as such a conservation approach has always been a necessary element of our works.


Preventative Works
Managing rainwater and maintaining the buildings weathering mouldings are paramount in protecting terracotta and faience as a building material.


Remedial Works
Damaged elements can be salvaged and pinned in order to retain original material. Once stabilised and repair mortars introduced, we are then able to reproduce in-situ cold glazing techniques to repair damaged and lost finishes and prevent further water ingress


PAYE are often called upon to help complete works to internationally important artworks. These include both the classical and the contemporary and have included sculpture, mosaics and painted pieces. The sensitivity required when approaching these pieces is second nature to the conservators at PAYE and being fully versed in both the materials and the context by which they sit.


Analysis & Surveying
We are by definition Arts Conservators and as such have an innate understanding and sensitivity to ‘works of art’. These artworks can take a wide variety of forms including; paintings and both traditional and modern sculpture (in a variety of mediums).


Preventative Works
Advisory recommendations will take into consideration monitoring and maintenance of a stable environment. These factors can influence hugely the survival of works and we are well versed in identifying where interventions are required.


Remedial Works
Remedial conservation in this context can often mean interventions to safeguard the longevity of the piece. In some instances, this may result in the relocation of works to a location where they are greater protected or less prone to external forces (see Henry Moore and Banksy case studies as examples)


From humble vernacular material to world class architectural pieces, we are capable of completing everything from the preparation of detailed research works to remedial conservation/restoration works in-situ or off-site at one of our specialist workshops.


Analysis & Surveying
As with our approach to all substrates, we look to understand the context that the object sits within and all potential influences from the outset, Our specialist conservators can identify areas of failure (or potential failure) and the cause and effect; often in advance of the need for any remedial works. Previous interventions can be noted where archival documentation is unavailable, and proposals developed for conservation and restoration.


Preventative Works
PAYE have a good understanding of the chemistry of metals and the impact that inappropriate combinations of materials can have on one another. As with most substrates, the key can often be the maintenance of a stable environment. Our advisory team can offer guidance on longer term strategies of protection.


Remedial Works
Where necessary, interventions can require the object to stripped, treated, repaired and then made good. Our team of metal conservators can address all aspects required and can complete all works on-site or off site in one of our secure workshops

Paints / Finishes

Our analytical services allow us to develop an understanding of our architectural heritage before we complete any interventional works or specify materials for use. This makes us best placed to then complete both the conservation and restoration of pictorial works on easel, marouflage canvases through to the reinstatement of architectural gilding and specialist paint finishes.


Analysis & Surveying
Analysis will normally involve in the first instance the collection of samples (often taken from a number of differing areas to give a good overall view of works and eradicate anomalies). A technical assessment is then completed of the samples via cross sectional analysis in visible and UV light, together with limited stain tests (for media) and microchemical tests (for pigments). Where it is felt polarised light microscopy will also add to the understanding of the paint films, this is also undertaken. On completion of all analysis, results are collated, and a conclusive report produced. The identification of both pigments and paint mediums allow us to form a greater understanding of a building’s chronology.


Preventative Works
Environmental monitoring can play a key role in safeguarding historic material. We are adept at identifying unsuitable environmental conditions and complete monitoring exercises to identify potential problems. Issues identified can then be dealt with and where necessary remedial works undertaken.


Remedial Works
Our craftspeople are proficient in stabilising areas of damage or loss and where required complete restoration works. We are able to complete everything from the removal of inappropriate paint layers to the completion of touching in to highly finished paintings; where damaged. Our team can execute works to internal and external painted surfaces, gilding, French polishing, marbling and varnishing


We have long developed techniques for conserving and restoring historic brickwork. These generally involve the removal of later inappropriate cement repairs/pointing which are the root cause of most damage. Once removed, our analysis allows us to recreate the closest possible match original material to safeguard works going forwards.


Analysis & Surveying
Identifying brick types and previous interventions are key to understanding the chronology of works and developing repair strategies. Chemical analysis is critical to this together with the interpretation of results. Facades are documented in both photographic and annotated forms to provide an ‘as existing’ record.


Preventative Works
Often the cause of damage to brickwork is the use of later inappropriate cement which is harder than the brick. This can have a deleterious effect by both preventing any subtle movement flexibility resulting in fractures and causing any moisture to be drawn through the brick (rather than the joint) potentially exacerbating freeze/thaw damage. Understanding the cause is often more important than addressing the effects.


Remedial Works
As highlighted above, works can incorporate everything from pointing removal and replacement through to brick replacement. We work closely with traditional brick manufacturers and specialist reclamation yards to identify the closest possible match for any replacement works to match colour, size and texture

Decorative Concrete

We are at the forefront of applying a conservation approach to a number of iconic 20th Century buildings. We have proven success in the fields of concrete conservation & restoration and look to continually develop longer term strategies in conservation. Modern building techniques are the result of a time of experimentation using unproven methods and as such often unprecedented failures are witnessed.


Analysis & Surveying
Understanding 20th Century construction techniques and methods is essential in identifying the causes of failure. An appreciation of modern approaches to buildings inform how a programme of conservation works can be developed. Material analysis and documenting failure patterns can often inform where problems exist, and the interpretation of this information is critical.


Preventative Works
A lack of understanding and incompatibility of materials is often the root cause of building failure. Close attention to design detailing is paramount to understanding how buildings function. The management and mismanagement of rainwater in the cavity, ventilation and Interstitial condensation are all primary aspects that need to be considered.


Remedial Works
Remedial works must address the cause of failure. These typically involve treating a variety of materials including the substructure itself – which can require a level of exposure. These interventions generally consist of the removal of inappropriate repairs and/or damage and the replacement with bespoke mortars to match existing