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HABS Guidelines

HABS recording combines drawings, history, and photography to produce a comprehensive, interdisciplinary record. The documentation ranges in scope depending largely upon the level of significance and complexity. It should first and foremost convey what is most important about that particular structure. The drawings component generally includes floor plans, elevations, architectural details, and construction elements, sometimes expanded to include sectional or axonometric drawings to convey the interrelationship of the building parts. In the case of relatively simple vernacular structures, however, it may be enough to undertake only a first floor plan and significant architectural and structural details. The written history follows an outline format that begins with a statement of significance supported by the development of the architectural and historical context in which the structure was built and subsequently evolved. The report also includes architectural description and bibliographic information. Again, in the case of a structure of limited complexity, the HABS “short format” historical report may suffice. The large-format, black-and-white photographs record the environmental setting, elevations, and significant details, both inside and out. The number of photographs should be weighted against the other components (and vice versa); it may be more appropriate to photograph rather than draw or describe elements such as secondary elevations and architectural details. In any case, each component of the documentation conveys an important piece; together they create a comprehensive understanding of the site.

Please note: To obtain a Title Block for drawings produced with CAD, contact HABS directly.