Preservation is retaining what is existing – this can be achieved through regular maintenance activities – saving thousands in potential cost. Once something is lost it is very expensive to recreate it.

The Business Section of the May 20th Intelligencer Journal had an article titled ‘Five home repairs not to postpone’ under the Investors Guide – the point of the article was to encourage small maintenance and repairs before they become big expensive problems. The five tips are valuable so I am passing them along:

1. Storm Water Management – maintain gutters, downspouts, and leader pipes (get the water away from the building, clean out gutters, make sure the soil slopes away from the building)
2. Roof and Siding – check flashing around roof penetrations and siding around door and window openings for leaks
3. Using caulk to seal gaps around pipes and ducts in attic can help insulate and prevent damming – notice I said caulk and not spray foam.
4. Pest infestations – wood eating pests love moist soil and rotting wood
5. Mold and Mildew – check under carpets, under windows, and behind plate covers for mold you might not see
6. Foundation Cracks – 1/4″ or more may be a problem – monitor all cracks for movement – if the building continues to move it is time for a consultation with a structural engineer.

Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday we exhibited at the Historic Home Show at York. As part of the Historic Home section of the Mid-Atlantic Garden Show at the York Expo Center. We enjoyed connecting with people that are interested in maintaining and restoring their vintage properties. The availability of regional “historic” home shows helps building owners find many resources for their projects under one roof. We try to list as many as we can on the events page on our website – any information you can pass on is much appreciated.

On Sunday, October 19, Chuck, Lois, Jonathan, Danielle, and Josh attended the Architectural History Tour of the Northeast Lancaster Township Historic District. The tour was appropriately called “Mansions on Marietta” and highlighted buildings built as the first suburban development in Lancaster County.

The oldest house on the tour was built in 1828 and is Wheatland home of 15th President James Buchanan. The other six homes on the tour (private residences) where built between 1920 and 1939. These houses reminded us of the “old” (at least 100 years old) building on the West Coast.

On Saturday, September 20, 2008 we presented “How to Approach Work on Your Older Home” to a group of interested homeowners in Columbia, Pennsylvania. We discussed avoiding common mistakes, how to make an older home more energy efficient, and how to plan for the work. After we finished the question and answer segment Chuck offered to take anyone who was interested to go outside to look at some of the mistakes made (previously, such as, sandblasting and using Portland Cement based mortar) on the Columbia Market House and the maintenance tasks that can be completed to help preserve the building. The preservation fair was sponsored by The Borough of Columbia and the Historic Architectural Review Board through the support of The Richard C. von Hess Foundation.
Green building is all the rage in the building industry. I can not open a remodeling or design/build magazine without a reference to a green building project. Preservation and restoration work is green in it’s approach. By using resources (building materials) that have already be harvested on land that has already be cleared is a greener approach than building a brand new building using new green materials. When you are building a new building you have to create the resources, ship them to the building supply store, and then ship them to the job site on the newly cleared land (from farmland, forest, or a tear down).

Storm Cunningham in The Restoration Economy (covering all aspects of the restoration economy natural and built environments) states that 25% of all landfill waste is from construction activities. By reusing the salvaged materials from buildings that are being torn down in our restoration projects we are keeping those materials out of the landfills.

It is easy with these new green materials to refer to new building as green. The new building materials are green for a new building approach but that approach is not necessary the best method when working on an older home (one built before 1945). There are ways to take a green building approach when dealing with your older building that does not include retrofitting inappropriate modern materials.

Last Saturday, June 7, Chuck, Lois, and Danielle drove to Bellefonte, Pennsylvania (right above State College) to conduct a seminar for the Borough of Bellefonte as part of their wood window seminar day in the park. There where various other exhibitors (replacement windows, storm windows, and stained glass window experts with booths) as part of the window fair.

It was a hot day with high humidity on top of the heat – I would describe it was oppressive. We made due with the weather (which impacted the turn out) and moved our presentation into the park gazebo were there was shade and benches for the attendees.

Despite the small crowd we had a good time discussing the importance of wood windows to a historic building, the replacement cycle (caused by inferior new growth wood and modern construction practices) (the replacement window salesman was not happy with this aspect of the discussion), storm window options (interior and exterior), the energy efficiency of wood windows (with support from the University of Vermont Wood Window Report – showing the energy savings is less than a dollar a year when wood windows are replaced with modern replacement windows – a copy is available under the Services section of our website), how to make wood windows more energy efficient, and a demonstration of the steps to repair wood windows.

We enjoyed sharing our knowledge with the few concerned homeowners and the Borough of Bellefonte’s available HARB members. We look forward to visiting this Victorian city again in the near future.