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This paper describes the authors' considered best practice towards obtaining information on an existing building structure. The paper also describes how The Institution of Structural Engineers' Library can assist in this process. Structural engineers are rarely engaged as early as RIBA Stage A (Feasibility) and yet information on an existing building structure may be critical in the decisions being considered for refurbishment and/or redevelopment. Even if the existing building is to be demolished, information on the existing structure is important with regards to the chosen demolition method, including the type of temporary works to be deployed. Most demolition contractors dislike the National Building Specification (NBS) section C20 demolition clause that requires them to survey the existing building, determine the structural frame and clarify the existing stability system. This is better undertaken by the structural engineer/design team where knowledge of the existing building is learnt ahead of swinging of the demolition ball. As part of this quest, the IStructE Library has been at the forefront of providing an e-archive of articles from The Structural Engineer as well as preparing a Consultants' tracker to assist in the search for existing building records from now-defunct, taken over or name-changed consulting engineering practices. This paper is illustrated with a number of project examples where SKM anthony hunts has been appointed as consulting engineer and where the finding of an existing record of a building has shaped the course of events. Paul Perry BSc(Hons) CEng, MIStructE, MICE, MHKIE, Technical Director, SKM anthony hunts consulting engineers Rob Thomas BA(Hons) MCLIP, Manager, Library and Information Services, IStructE