Advice and Support

Traditional buildings

Technical conservation advice on traditional buildings, covering ventilation and regular maintenance of traditional buildings.

These are understood to be buildings constructed before 1919. Modern materials and techniques were used widely in the construction industry from around this time onwards. 

Traditional buildings are often referred to as being of ‘breathable construction’. This means that the construction materials used can absorb and release moisture.

Problems such as damp, mould and dry rot can result if moisture is trapped in the building fabric. Moisture arises from breathing and everyday activities like showering and washing clothes.

Keeping a traditional building healthy requires two things: 

  • ventilation 
  • regular maintenance


Traditional buildings were constructed in a way that allows air and moisture movement through elements such as vents, windows and chimneys. Maintaining good air circulation while keeping your property warm can be challenging but is possible. 

Find out more about saving energy in a traditional building

Regular maintenance

There’s a pressing need to encourage proactive maintenance and repair of traditional buildings. Such buildings account for 19% of Scotland’s building stock. But research indicates that 75% of traditional buildings show disrepair and 53% ‘urgent disrepair’.

Find out more in our report:

Download Establishing the Need for Traditional Skills [PDF, 678KB]

Traditional building fabric is very durable when regularly and appropriately maintained. 

Work should be carried out using traditional methods and materials. Traditional buildings are constructed using permeable materials such as stone and lime mortars. Modern construction uses impermeable materials including concrete and cement. Mixing permeable and impermeable materials may damage your property.

Traditional materials can sometimes be more expensive than modern materials, but will often last significantly longer and are usually more sustainable.

Visit our Engine Shed website to learn more about materials used in traditionally constructed buildings.  

Find out more about looking after your property.