Historic Home Restoration and Rehabilitation – Part IV

Historic rehabilitation is a subject that I promised to touch on and I am excited to provide you with some avenues for research.  This is quite a complex area and I will do my best to highlight the important points and suggest additional resources as we go along.

I hope that you have enjoyed my previous posts regarding historic homes and that you continue to find this information relevant in your quest for a historic property.  If you missed any of my previous posts here they are:

“Rehabilitation” is defined as “the process of returning a property to a state of utility, through repair or alteration, which makes possible an efficient contemporary use while preserving those portions and features of the property which are significant to its historic, architectural, and cultural values.”  ~  from The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation

The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards of Rehabilitation is the MOST comprehensive resource I have yet to find for guidelines when rehabilitating a property.  The guidelines are broken down into several categories:

  • Masonry, Wood, Metals
  • Roofs, Windows, Entrances/Porches, Storefronts
  • Structural Systems, Spaces/Features/Finishes, Mechanical Systems
  • Site, Setting
  • Energy, New Additions, Accessibility, Health/Safety

and lastly, Standard Guidelines which will be the focus of this post.

The Four Key Components to the Standard Guidelines are:

  1. Identify, Retain and Preserve:  The form and detailing of those architectural materials and features that are important in defining the historic character.
  2. Protect and Maintain:  Once characteristics are identified the next obvious step would be to protect and maintain what is existing.  It would stand to reason that protection is the first logical step before proceeding with any work on a historic property.  Protecting can be as simple as cleaning gutters, caulking, rust removal, etc.  It is during this phase where much of the present physical condition of a property can be assessed.
  3. Repair:  After physical assessments are complete and steps have been taken to protect the property repair can commence on the property.  This is where the individual sections (mentioned above) of The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards of Rehabilitation come into play.  The sections are extremely detailed for which materials can be used and the extent of the work that can be performed.
  4. Replace:  Only when the level of deterioration or damage of materials precludes repair can complete replacement be considered. (for example, an exterior cornice; an interior staircase; or a complete porch or storefront).

Whether you are contemplating a historic property rehabilitation project, starting one or in the middle of one The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards of Rehabilitation is one resource that you MUST have. Other resources available and encouraged are:

Be sure to check back soon for the next post in this series that is near and dear to my heart.  With the middle of hurricane season upon us I thought it might be beneficial to give you some resources should your historic property be affected by a natural disaster.

If you have any questions regarding historic homes or are ready to start your search please feel free to email me!  I would be delighted to help.

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