Philosophy of Research
Perhaps the fundamental way in which we increase our understanding of historic buildings is through research. To paraphrase John Donne, it might be said that no building is an island entire of itself.
Many of those working with surveying historic buildings are often divorced from working with researching their history; this is partly owing to a lack of time, skill and resources. This professional separation of surveying from research is perplexing when dealing with historic buildings - in effect historic artefacts - that require understanding; even the smallest amendments to a building can be successfully and harmoniously influenced by appreciating the architectural, social, local and landscape history that surrounds and shapes them.
Naturally, full historical investigations cannot reasonably be carried out for every project, but I believe that having that appreciation, and going that little bit further to find out more, is what distinguishes the fully-rounded historic building professional.
I therefore seek to apply the principle that, in carrying out historical research, even when separate from a building project, the information gathered might be illuminating and informative for the future development of the building.
I would also place building surveys in this category; even though these might be constructional and technical in scope, they are nonetheless site-based 'research' into that building which can not only be usefully punctuated by relevant historical observations on site, but also act both as a basis on which to specify future works and a 'snapshot' of that building in time.