Definition of historic building assessment

The definition of historic building assessment or recording (HBA) sometime referred to as historic building recording (HBR) or archaeological building investigation and recording (ABIR) is a programme of work intended to establish the character, history, dating, form and archaeological development of a specified building, structure, or complex and its setting, including buried components, on land, inter-tidal zone or underwater.

Purpose of historic building assessment

The purpose of HBA as defined by the Institute for Archaeologists is to examine a specified building, structure or complex, and its setting, in order to inform:

• the formulation of a strategy for the conservation, alteration, demolition, repair or management of a building, or structure, or complex and its setting


• to seek a better understanding, compile a lasting record, analyse the findings/record, and then disseminate the results.

Pryton House


The Institute for Archaeologists note a HBA may arise:

• prior to, during and on completion of works of repair, alteration, management or demolition

• as part of the planning process (within the framework of appropriate national guidance including planning policy guidance and associated legislation and/or development plan policy)

• in a conservation area, where records of buildings, structures or complexes and their setting may assist the local authority to determine the impact of a given proposal on the character of the conservation area as well as assessing individual buildings and structures of importance

• under the provisions of the Ecclesiastical Exemption (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Order 1994 relating to places of worship and their internal systems of control, and such similar provisions in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and the Faculty Jurisdiction System relating to Church of England Churches and arising from the Care of Churches and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure 1991; or the Care of Cathedrals Measure 1990 and Supplementary Provisions 1994

• as part of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

• as the basis for, or in conjunction with, proposals or specifications for work (eg those of an architect, engineer, builder or chartered surveyor) to a building, structure, or complex and its setting

• as part of an agreed strategy in mitigation of damage or loss to a building, structure or complex and its setting, including a process of controlled demolition or re-erection

• in conjunction with a programme of archaeological assessment, field evaluation or excavation

• in connection with the preparation of conservation or management plans by private, local, national or international bodies; for example as part of a total facility management scheme in a museum or related context, or where a building is seen to be at risk

• within the context of the interpretation and presentation of the site to the public

• within a programme of research not generated by a specific threat to the archaeological resource

• within the context of a threat from natural agencies

• as part of a disaster mitigation plan  by way of insurance against loss or damage HBR may therefore be commissioned by a number of different individuals or organisations, including local planning authorities, national advisory bodies, government agencies, private owners, developers or their agents, archaeological and architectural researchers, etc.

Eastington Manor
Magdalen College
©Institute for Archaeologists
JMHS carries out historic building assessments on a diverse range of properties across the country.