If you happen to be lucky enough to live, work, or spend time in a historic building, you know how amazing having living examples of history can be. The appeal is undeniable – and one of many reasons why we preserve and restore examples of decades or centuries-old buildings. But this is also a complicated task – not any building contractor or construction firm can work on historic buildings. Experts in architecture, history, materials, construction techniques, and other disciplines are needed. In most cases, the companies that offer these experts and their services are known as historic building preservation services and historic building restoration services.
Many people who don’t have the responsibility of owning or caring for a historic building may be unaware of the challenges that are faced as part of the historic building preservation and restoration processes. It’s not quite the same as the kind of home improvement work that you’d have done on the average residential home, that’s for sure! In this guide, we’ll provide some basic information on the differences between historic building preservation services and historic building restoration services, explain why their skills are needed, provide a brief overview of what these service companies do, and offer some guidance on choosing the right company or contractor to suit a historic building preservation or restoration project.
At the start, let’s take a look at the differences between historic building preservation services and historic building restoration services. Many of these service companies may be the same and perform both historic building preservation and historic building restoration tasks. They are so inter-related that a distinction may or may not exist in many cases. Traditionally speaking, historic building preservation services are focused on jobs that help preserve building its historic status. It can effectively incorporate many of the same kinds of tasks that historic building restoration services undertake. These service companies and contractors are usually called in to perform historic building repairs, renovations, and so on, within the context of period-accurate historic work on a building. The main difference is preservation can take on a broad meaning, encompassing preparatory work as well as restoration work, while restoration tends to be a more focused process that happens “after the fact,” so to speak, versus some preservation work.
The bottom line here is that in many cases these service companies won’t exactly be separate entities. But in some cases, they may be, so it’s important to understand that historic building preservation services may do “before the fact” work to preserve historic buildings only, or they may also do restoration work, whereas historic building restoration services do restoration work in most cases.
There are some important considerations when you own or are responsible for a historic building and need to have any preservation or restoration work done. You cannot simply call up any contractor or handyman, in many cases, and have the job done. That is because many historic buildings, in most jurisdictions, are registered. Historic building status may provide government funding for maintenance and operation, but also there can be many restrictions on what kind of work, improvements, restorations, and so on can be done. It is the main reason why historic building preservation services and historic building restoration services exist.
The experts who work for these companies encompass a variety of different disciplines, including history, architecture, design, construction, materials science, engineering, and more. They ensure that any preservation or restoration work on historic buildings will be appropriately done. There may be special requirements on the methods that can be used, the materials, and many challenges in achieving a finished result that maintains the historic character of a building. And that’s why historic building preservation services and historic building restoration services exist – to provide the kind of expert guidance and assistance that no home handyman or average construction company can provide, to ensure that historic buildings remain intact, preserved, and are restored in proper condition, so that we can all enjoy these treasures of the past.
Historic building preservation services and historic building restoration services may perform any number of tasks related to historic buildings. Typically, these are construction, architecture, repair, renovation, and related tasks. Taking steps to ensure that any structural or architectural work or repairs preserve the historical character of the building is essential. That doesn’t mean that only period-accurate materials or techniques can be used – even historic buildings can have electricity, plumbing, and so on in most cases. But it does mean the finished appearance, styling, and other elements need to be researched and chosen carefully.
The multi-disciplinary experts from historic building preservation services and historic building restoration services will often draw on research, photographs, reference libraries, and other materials to determine the kind of work that should be done, and what the finished building should look like. As time wears on, of course, many older historic buildings will need more and more repairs, restorations, and preservation work. That may involve carpentry, masonry, roofing, structural, decorative, design, and many other areas of construction, building, and contracting trades, all focused on maintaining and preserving a finished result that is, at its heart, irreplaceable.
For those who have never hired a historic building preservation services or historic building restoration services company before, the task can be a bit daunting. For sure, you want to choose a company that will do the job correctly, quickly, and at a reasonable cost. There are so many additional considerations when it comes to historic buildings, as opposed to regular construction-type tasks, that you need to take extra care in selecting a service company to do the job. Still, the same overall characteristics of companies and questions that you should ask during your research hold for almost any service business. We outline six key areas below that you should research to find the right historic building preservation service or historic building restoration service to suit your needs.
No matter what age or kind of historic building you may be responsible for, maintenance, preservation, restoration, or construction should involve experts from historic building preservation services and historic building restoration services. It’s not only recommended, but in many jurisdictions, it’s obligatory required to maintain historic registration status, funding, tax deductions, and so on. Choosing a quality historic building preservation service or historic building restoration service is extremely important, as the results of their labor make the difference between preserving the history and losing it forever.