This list was taken from the Directory of Preservation Resources complied by the Historical Architectural Review Board in the Borough of Columbia, PA.

Encouraging regular maintenance (true preservation) rather than quick-fixes that will fail in a short amount of time this list highlights seven common “repairs” or “upgrades” that do more harm than good.

1. Repointing bricks using mortar with a high content of Portland cement. Instead use a flexible mortar with a high lime content.

2. Sandblasting, using high-pressure power washes, or harsh chemical cleaners to clean or remove paint. This will remove the hard outer shell exposing the soft brick. Always use the gentlest method possible to clean.

3. Applying vinyl or aluminum to wrap the building (walls, sills, soffits, and eaves). The installers regularly remove architectural details. In addition trapping moisture can accelerate structural decay.

4. Replacing original wood windows (unnecessarily). Repair rather than replace. Wood windows can be made energy efficient using weather stripping and storm windows.

5. Ignoring peeling exterior paint. A good paint job will provide a protective coating against insects and moisture.

6. Hiring contractors without the necessary skills or experience working on old buildings. Modern materials and construction techniques are not always compatible with older buildings. A contractor unfamiliar with traditional buildings and methods cab permanently damage the building.

7. Introducing “mix-and-match” period style detail. Respect the original period-style of your building. Fight the urge to make it appear newer, older, or fancier in style than it really is.

The April 2010 edition of Qualified Remodeler featured a Sales and Marketing article by Dave Lupberger describing five behaviors you should expect from a professional contractor. In my opinion these are things every contractor should do because they value the relationships they build with their clients – unfortunately this is not always the case.

  • Professional contractors will be on time for every appointment (if not they should communicate the reason);
  • Phone calls will be promptly returned;
  • On the jobsite (your home) professional contractors will be respectful to you and your neighbors;
  • At the end of the day the jobsite will be cleaned and free of safety hazards; and
  • The process and status of your project will be communicated to you regularly.

On Thursday, April 22nd, any contractor working on a building with lead-based paint will have to be a lead-safe certified firm. The EPA is has written guidelines to help protect homeowners from lead dust and contractors have to complete a 8 hour training course. Helping to protect homeowners is important – the downside is the increased cost to each project (we will have to see what that is once we have set up a few projects with the new protective barriers).

For more information on lead and how to protect your family visit the EPA website: http://www.epa.gov/lead

We are working on building our preservation store on our website. Besides the Speedheater Paint Removal System we are adding John Leeke’s Practical Restoration Reports. These reports are able to be used by homeowners, contractors, and architects to provide an industry standard within restoration to work to. The reports we are going to carry are: Save Your Wood Windows, Wood-Epoxy Repairs, Wood Gutters, Exterior Wood Columns, Mouldings, Exterior Woodwork Details, and Managing Maintenance. A sample of Save Your Wood Windows
http://historichomeworks.com/hhw/reports/WoodWindowsSampleScr.PDF is available at the link above.

If you know of a preservation product or tool that you cannot live without let us know we are always looking for additional products to added to our website to help people restore/preserve their buildings with sensitivity.

Have a great holiday weekend!