Traditional buildings

From the Historic Environment Scotland website:

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

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.

Learn about materials used in traditionally constructed buildings in the Resource Centre on our conservation website.

Find out more about looking after your property.