An Historical Property & Its ‘Character Defining Features’

An Historical Property & Its ‘Character Defining Features’

Old Bermuda homes are often discussed with gleeful romanticism; wooden flooring, windows and doors, limestone walls, purposeful rooms, and elegant curvature in masonry details.

When one acquires such a home they are committing themselves to both ownership and custodianship, an obligation to preserve what the Bermuda Department of Planning refers to as ‘Character Defining Features’. Formal guidelines exist for alterations and additions to listed buildings and/or buildings located within historic areas, and we at BS&R are required to abide by them when contracted to supply architectural millwork features.

Retaining an historical property’s original features is the primary recommendation. Should replacement be absolutely necessary you do not require Planning permission for the like-for-like restoration of wooden windows or doors.

In 2020 one of the aforementioned homes that we built new windows and doors for was simply replacing what was previously there. The homeowner had several rot and stability concerns with a few of their windows and doors, but they very much wanted (and needed) to retain the original charm of the ‘character defining features’.

The original doors and windows were made using Virginia Cedar so the option to use an alternative lumber was available to us. When Bermuda Cedar is the primary wood the property owner is expected to preserve or replace using Bermuda Cedar. Our client decided to choose Accoya wood for their new windows and doors in order to achieve a two-toned solution. The door and window interior would be stained to as closely match the Virginia Cedar grain, and the exterior was painted white. This finishing option utilized both the longevity of the lumber product when painted, and the traditional darkened patina achieved when using cedars.

If you are reading this as an owner or property manager of an historic Bermuda home, below is a weblink to the guidance document issued by the Bermuda Department of Planning that is referred to above. If you need further professional assistance you should contact an Architect in Bermuda familiar with historical building renovations. Once you understand what is required, including necessary applications, you can call us at BS&R Group Ltd. to talk about your new wooden features!

Document Link: ‘Alterations or Additions to Listed Buildings and/or Buildings Located Within Historic Areas.