How our visit works

Arrangements for our visits

First steps 

  • Old Gilwyns crownpost croppedSmoke-blackened from the open fire below, this crownpost dates to 1450-1500 (Old Gilwyns, Chiddingstone)If you think your house (or barn or other old building) might have origins earlier than about 1700, a Group member may be able to make an initial visit to assess the building.
  • Sending us a few photographs of visible timbers and an external view (if the house is not visible from the road) is also useful.
  • You (or we) may do some documentary research before the visit.
  • Our visits are free. We are an entirely voluntary body, doing this work because we are dedicated to the identification and recording of vernacular buildings.
  • Check whether your property has already been recorded (we started in the 1960s)
  • Please note that we do not advise on building condition, for which you should employ your own surveyor or builder. 

The main visit

When the date/time of the visit has been agreed with you by the Visits Secretary a confirmation letter will be sent, and you will then be contacted a week before the visit to confirm the actual number of members taking part. The Group then makes a full visit. This can be either a morning or afternoon visit, and is usually on a Saturday or Sunday. The number of Group members is restricted to suit you and your property, but typically there are about 10 to 14 of us.

  • We spend 1-2 hours surveying the building inside and out, including the roof space, and the cellar if you have one. 
  • We take measurements in order to be able to draw a floor plan of the early parts of the building.
  • If you give permission, we take photographs to help us in writing our report later. They are never reproduced elsewhere unless we seek and obtain your specific permission (for example, to use a photograph on this website).
  • At the end of the visit we sit down for a group discussion, in which we encourage you to participate, to agree our broad findings.

After the visit

  • Later, we produce a short report and a plan drawing. We may reproduce photographs of key features.
  • We focus on the original building’s form rather than later changes, and do not take modern changes into account.
  • We aim to date the original building - typically to the nearest 50 years – and sometimes to date some of the later alterations.

Respecting your privacy during the visit

John DSCF2510A visit by the Group while building work is going on often provides access and insights that are not evident later.

The Group takes care to respect your house and its interior during the visit:

  • You may wish to make certain rooms 'out of bounds'. A closed door may mean no access - if in doubt, we will ask you.
  • Group members are always happy to remove outer footwear if you ask or if they think they might otherwise tread any dirt at all into the premises. Some members bring alternative indoor footwear.
  • Bags and backpacks are not carried inside private houses, as they can cause serious damage. We ask the owner where we can leave them.

See our Standards of Conduct while inside your house:


The Group has suitable public liability insurance but Members are aware that visits are at their own risk. Members are cautioned to beware of overcrowding, especially where floor loadings could become excessive, and of risks including low, narrow access points, inadequate or absent lighting, unguarded landings and trap doors, ladders and stairs not in common use, steps, changes of level and tripping hazards, unprotected pipes and wiring, and other hazards. They are aware that neither the householder nor their representatives, nor the Group, nor the Group's organiser, accept responsibility for failure of Members to observe due caution.

Controlling distribution of our report after the visit

See our rules that protect your privacy.

Find out about a study visit by WBSG

Use our enquiry form to tell us a little about your house, and we’ll get back to you.

We do NOT advise on building condition - you must employ your own surveyor or builder.