Part 3: Standards for Rehabilitation

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The U.S. Secretary of the Interior in 1977 developed Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings to provide general design and technical recommendations to property owners, developers, and federal managers in applying the Standards for Rehabilitation.

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A rehabilitation that preserves the streetscape

What the Guidelines are:

  • General guidelines in applying the standards to projectsduring the planning stage.
  • With the Standards for Rehabilitation, a model process for owners, developers, and federal agency managers to follow.
  • Pertainent to historic buildings of all sizes, materials, occupancy, and construction types; and applicable to interior and exterior work as well as new exterior additions.

What the Guidelines are not:

  • Codified as program requirements, unlike the standards.
  • Meant to give case-specific advice or address exceptions or rare instances.

For example, the guidelines cannot tell owners or developers which features of their own historic building are important in defining the historic character and must be preserved, or which features could be altered, if necessary, for new use. This kind of careful case-by-case decision-making is best accomplished by seeking assistance from qualified historic preservation professionals in the planning stage of the project. Such professionals include architects, architectural historians, historians, archeologists, and others who are skilled in the preservation, rehabilitation, and restoration of the historic properties.

In stories on specific features -- masonry, storefronts, etc. -- those approaches, treatments, and techniques that are consistent with the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation are listed. Those approaches, treatments, and techniques which could adversely affect a building's historic character are listed under Not Recommended.

The recommended actions in each section are listed in order of importance in successfully planning and completing an historic rehabilitation project. The actions:

  1. Assure the preservation of a building's important or "character-defining" architectural materials and features
  2. Make possible an efficient contemporary use.

Rehabilitation guidance in each section begins with:

  1. Protection and maintenance, the work that enhances overall preservation goals.
  2. Where some deterioration is present, repair of the building's historic materials and features is recommended.
  3. Finally, when deterioration is so extensive that repair is not possible, the most problematic area of work is considered: replacement of historic materials and features with new materials.

To further guide the owner and developer in planning a successful rehabilitation project, those complex design issues dealing with new use requirements such as alterations and additions are highlighted at the end of each section to underscore the need for particular sensitivity in these areas.

Next: More on the Do's and Don'ts of Restoration

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