Rehabilitating and restoring an old building or house is an exciting challenge. Although the process can be difficult (not
to mention expensive and time-consuming), your hard work will be richly rewarded when you successfully complete your project.
Keep in mind that you do not have to do it all yourself. There are professionals to
assist you during each phase of your project: architects, architectural historians, landscape architects, contractors, suppliers,
researchers, librarians, and preservationists. You can also find out more about topics like paint and insurance on the Protecting
a Historic Home section on the Web site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation
How Do I Start?
Before buying an older house, first determine the condition of the building by thoroughly inspecting it yourself or with a
trained professional, such as an architect, structural engineer, or a building inspector with renovation experience. (A local
preservation organization can probably recommend an appropriate person). Carefully map out what you want to accomplish and
budget how much money you can afford to spend.
In 1989, the National Trust's Preservation Magazine published an article on "What Every Restorer Should Know" that
included the US. Department of the Interior's "Ten Basic Principles for Sensitive Rehabilitation."
* Make every effort
to use the building for its original purpose.
* Do not destroy
distinctive original features.
* Recognize all buildings
as products of their own time.
* Recognize and respect
changes that have taken place over time.
* Treat sensitively
distinctive stylistic features or examples of skilled craft work.
* Repair rather than replace
worn architectural features when possible. When replacement is necessary, new material should match the old in design, composition,
* Clean facades using
the gentlest methods possible. Avoid sandblasting and other damaging methods.
* Protect and preserve
affected archeological resources.
* Compatible contemporary
alterations are acceptable if they do not destroy significant historical or architectural fabric.
* Build new additions
so they can be removed without impairing the underlying structure
--This article was adapted from a piece
on the National Trust for Historic Preservation Web site.