Course description

This course will develop your knowledge of the historical contexts of building materials and your ability to assess conservation techniques. Identify various historic building materials and their properties.

While this course will build participants’ understanding of typical building material properties such as wood and stone, special consideration will be given to native, local materials. You will be asked to consider the historical sensibility of building material choice and how to best address material conservation in light of pure preservation versus material renewal, and traditional techniques versus modern intervention.

Learning objectives

  • Understand the nature and diagnose the extent of decay in various building materials.
  • Determine an appropriate material conservation plan.
  • Understand material conservation techniques.
  • Assess conservation needs and develop a range of conservation options in the contexts of both preservation and renewal.


Note: though not required, prior experience in a cultural organization would be an asset for success in this course.

Please contact the Program Coordinator, Tusa Shea, directly at if you have any questions or concerns.


John Dam, B.A.Sc., M.Sc., P.Eng., MCAHP, LEED AP BD+C, is the principal of his own building conservation practice in Victoria, BC. Over the past 15 years, he has worked on numerous conservation projects in British Columbia and across Canada prior to completing his M.Sc. in the Conservation of Historic Structures at the University of Bath, England. Considering heritage values, building envelope efficiency, structural possibility and material compatibility, he continues to assist a variety of clients with their building conservation efforts.

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