This is an image of a worker on scaffolding priming the exterior of the wood siding on a historic house prior to applying a finish coat. One shutter has been removed for work as well. Photo: NPS files.
Fitting Your Work to Time and Place
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Working on the Past in Local Historic Districts


3. Get specific! Make a list of work items for your historic building, then determine a final Scope of Work.
This "planning" exercise can help you make the right treatment choice for your historic building and site based on the specific work you are planning to do. It fits your work into one of four categories (Preservation, Rehabilitation, Restoration, or Reconstruction) so you can use the appropriate standards and guidelines.

Make a list of all the work items proposed for the building, such as painting, re-pointing, repairing, replacing, altering, adding on, etc. If only the exterior is subject to design review, the list will involve only the exterior. If the building will be open to the public--and the district review commission or board has review authority over the interior--broaden the list to include proposed work on the interior.

Compare your completed work list to the Scope of Work provided below for each of the four work approaches in the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties and Guidelines for Preserving, Rehabilitating, Restoring, and Reconstructing Historic Buildings. Note: There are overlaps of work in the four historic preservation approaches, but important limitations. Your work list can include any or all of the items in the Scope of Work, below, but should not exceed it.

Check carefully to make sure your list of work items falls within the appropriate Scope of Work for a particular treatment (see below).

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<<Hint: Be flexible>>
For example, if you initially thought your project would be Restoration, but you see that your work items don't correspond with the suggested Scope of Work (i.e., you plan to build a new addition), then change the work approach to Rehabilitation. That means you would use the Standards for Rehabilitation and accompanying Guidelines to frame your work, or—better still—as the basis for formulating specific rehabilitation design guidelines for your historic district.
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Scope of Work
for Preservation, Rehabilitation, Restoration, and Reconstruction

 

Preservation

>> Standards + Guidelines

When the property's distinctive materials, features, and spaces are essentially intact and thus convey the historic significance without extensive repair or replacement; when depiction at a particular period of time is not appropriate; and when a continuing or new use does not require additions or extensive alterations, Preservation may be considered as a treatment. Prior to undertaking work, a documentation plan for Preservation should be developed.

Structural reinforcement, temporary stabilization, weatherization, or correcting unsafe conditions.

Rust removal, caulking, limited paint removal, and re-application of protective coatings; the cyclical cleaning of roof gutter systems; or installation of fencing, alarm systems and other temporary protective measures.

Strengthening fragile materials through consolidation, and repointing with mortar of an appropriate strength. Repairing masonry as well as wood and architectural metal features, including patching, splicing, or otherwise reinforcing using recognized preservation methods.

Limited replacement in kind of extensively deteriorated or missing parts of features when there are surviving prototypes (for example, brackets, dentils, steps, plaster, or portions of slate or tile roofing). The replacement material needs to match the old both physically and visually, i.e., wood with wood, etc.

 

 

Rehabilitation

>> Standards + Guidelines

When repair and replacement of deteriorated features are necessary; when alterations or additions to the property are planned for a new or continued use; and when its depiction at a particular period of time is not appropriate, Rehabilitation may be considered as a treatment. Prior to undertaking work, a documentation plan for Rehabilitation should be developed.

Rust removal, caulking, limited paint removal, and re-application of protective coatings; the cyclical cleaning of roof gutter systems; or installation of fencing, alarm systems and other temporary protective measures.

Repair of historic materials, such as masonry, wood, and architectural metals, by patching, piecing-in, splicing, consolidating, or otherwise reinforcing, or upgrading according to recognized preservation methods.

Limited replacement in kind—or with compatible substitute material—of extensively deteriorated or missing parts of features when there are surviving prototypes (for example, brackets, dentils, steps, plaster, or portions of slate or tile roofing).

Replacement of an entire character-defining feature with new material because the level of deterioration or damage of materials precludes repair (for example, an exterior cornice; an interior staircase; or a complete porch or storefront).

Replacement of a missing feature based on physical and pictorial documentation. Or replacement of a missing feature with a new design based on the remaining character-defining features of the building.

Alterations, such as additional parking space on an existing historic building site; cutting new entrances or windows on secondary elevations; inserting an additional floor; installing an entirely new mechanical system; or creating an atrium or light well. Selectively removing buildings or other features of the environment or building site that are intrusive and therefore detract from the overall historic character.

Attaching a new exterior addition that is compatible in size, scale, massing, proportion, etc.; is clearly differentiated from the historic building; and is reversible, that is, it could be removed in the future without impairing the integrity of the historic building.

 

Restoration

>> Standards + Guidelines

When the property's design, architectural, or historical significance during a particular period of time outweighs the potential loss of extant materials, features, spaces, and finishes that characterize other historical periods; when there is substantial physical and documentary evidence for the work; and when contemporary alterations and additions are not planned, Restoration may be considered as a treatment. Prior to undertaking work, a particular period of time, i.e., the restoration period, should be selected and justified, and a documentation plan for Restoration developed.

Rust removal, caulking, limited paint removal, and re-application of protective coatings; the cyclical cleaning of roof gutter systems; or installation of fencing, alarm systems and other temporary protective measures. Apply measures to restoration period materials and features only.

Strengthening of fragile materials through consolidation; repointing with mortar of an appropriate strength. Repairing masonry as well as wood and architectural metals by patching, splicing, or otherwise reinforcing them using recognized preservation methods. Reinforcing portions of a historic structural system using contemporary material such as steel rods. Apply measures to restoration period materials and features only.

Limited replacement in kind—or with compatible substitute material-of extensively deteriorated or missing parts of existing features when there are surviving prototypes to use as a model, such as terra-cotta brackets, wood balusters, or cast iron fencing. Apply measures to restoration period materials and features only.

Replacement of an entire feature from the restoration period (i.e., a cornice, balustrade, column, or stairway) that is too deteriorated to repair based on documentary and physical evidence. Using the same kind of material is preferred; however, compatible substitute material may be used.

Following documentation of existing historic features that do not represent the restoration period, such as windows, entrances and doors, roof dormers, or landscape features, alter non-restoration features by removing them.

Re-create restoration period features that are now missing, such as a stone balustrade, a porch, or cast iron storefront. The same or compatible substitute material may be used.

 

 

Reconstruction

>> Standards + Guidelines

When a contemporary depiction is required to understand and interpret a property's historic value (including the re-creation of missing components in a historic district or site); when no other property with the same associative value has survived; and when sufficient historical documentation exists to ensure an accurate reproduction, Reconstruction may be considered as a treatment. Prior to undertaking work, a documentation plan for Reconstruction should be developed.

Research and document the building's historical significance to ascertain that its re-creation is essential to the public understanding of the property.

Investigate archeological resources to identify features of the building and site that are essential to an accurate re-creation and must be reconstructed.

Retain historic materials and features, such as remnants of a foundation or chimney and site features, such as a walkway or path—when practicable—and incorporate into
the reconstruction.

Duplicate exterior (and interior) features to re-create the appearance of the historic building for interpretive purposes. Use traditional materials and finishes when possible; in some instances, substitute materials may be used if they are able to convey the same visual appearance.

Identify the reconstruction as a contemporary re-creation.

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