A step by step guide to writing a building report
Having completed the measured survey and drawings, it is time to
put together all the findings into a written report. If you have
used the historic building group recording forms, then these will
suffice, or will provide all the information for a more formal report.
You would need a more structured report if you intend to publish.
There are many different ways to put together a building report.
This is one suggested format, but there are others. What is included
depends to some extent on the individual building and the level
of detail required (see EH guidelines for description of levels
A brief paragraph summarising the report contents
Include a map and a description of the location
with full address and NGR. It might be helpful to include some
details about the settlement and its history, as this gives context
to the building’s
2. Statutory designation
Only relevant if the building is listed
3. Survey record
Say how, why and when the survey was carried
out, plus the names of the survey team. Include the EH level
of recording if relevant (see reference list)
Describe the following aspects:
• The landscape setting e.g. orientation
on plot, relationship to any roads, gardens, out-buildings
• Each of the exterior elevations, including construction materials
• The exterior of the roof, including chimneys
• The interior rooms. It is usual to describe on a room by room basis, noting
interesting and significant features.
• The roof space
it is not necessary to describe everything (it could get rather
dull!) and sometimes it is better to include photographs or refer
to the drawings...a picture speaks a thousand words.
5. Documentary evidence
Include here evidence from other sources
which shed light on the history of the building, e.g.:
• Historic maps
• Tithe and enclosure records
• Census data
• HER entries
This is the fun part! This is the section in
which you try to interpret the survey results and documentary
evidence, and attempt to work out when the building was constructed,
the different phases of construction or alteration and perhaps something
about its function and its former residents. Precise dating can
be very difficult and sometimes impossible, especially for vernacular
dwellings which may have few dateable features and little in the
way of documents or records. It can be worth sketching the different
phases of the building or including a sketch with the time periods
in different colours.
Remember that this might be the only record
made of your building and few other people will be in a better
position to interpret its history. If the drawings and descriptions
are clear then it will allow other interpretations to be made, all
of which will add to our overall knowledge.
It is good to thank those people who have helped
with the survey such as the householder.
reference materials used including original documents (primary
sources) such as historic maps and title deeds, and secondary
sources (published materials referred to). Include the drawings
and any useful photographs. The drawings are often put in as
appendices, whilst the photographs are better placed into the body
of the writing at appropriate points.
Hutton, B. 1986. Recording
Standing Buildings. The British Archaeological Trust
P, Dallas R, Jackson S and Watt D. 2004 (2nd edition) Measurement
and Recording of Historic Buildings. Shaftesbury: Donhead Publishing.
Understanding Historic Buildings:
a guide to good recording practice.
Swindon: English Heritage (2006)