Even though they may appreciate the character and craftsmanship of your historic home, not all contractors understand them. If you’re moving forward with a historic restoration of your home, it’s important to work with a design build firm that knows how to preserve the beauty and character of the elements of historical architecture.
Historical Restoration Contractors
Unless you’re doing a true historic restoration, you don’t need a contractor who specializes in them. However, If you intend to fully restore your historic home rather than remodel it, know that it’s a significant undertaking. Depending on the scope of the project and the condition of the property, selecting the proper historical restoration contractor is crucial.
It takes meticulous care to restore historical buildings to their proud original form, so you’ll want to partner with a team that has the skills and the experience necessary. Because historical restoration is a highly specialized discipline, with each structure presenting its own unique challenges, that experience comes from having done restorations repeatedly through the years.
Here are the main traits to look for in a contractor qualified to do historical restorations.
Extensive Knowledge of Historical Materials and Products
Products and materials used for historical construction are strikingly different from their modern counterparts. Even when they look the same, they may not be historically accurate, and mixing modern and historical materials can be detrimental to your structure’s aesthetic value. For example, historical bricks are softer than today’s mass-produced version because the process used to fabricate them resulted in lower firing temperatures.
An experienced design build firm knows which materials are appropriate to use and how to properly install them.
Ability to Identify and Replicate Traditional Construction Techniques
A true historical restoration is more than replacing worn out materials with newer, freshly-painted versions. Every technique that was used to create a historical building contains characteristics of the original craftsmen themselves. Examples include hand troweled finishes, dove-tailed joinery, and wet-bed wall tile.
For your own historical restoration, you need a contractor who not only knows the appropriate materials to use, but also the proper method to install them.
Knows the Local Review and Permitting Process
It was easier a hundred years ago. A person bought a piece of land, designed a house, and had local craftsmen build according to their particular knowledge. Today, the process is more complex, especially for historical homes. Multiple local agencies process and approve construction and occupancy permits. Many towns and cities have a historical board or commission that oversees the restoration process and approves the materials and methods used.
In addition, a historical restoration is subject to modern building codes, though exemptions can be granted. For example, many historical stair railings were spaced further apart than what is required for safety and insurance reasons today. You need someone on board your project who knows how to meet and comply with the requirements of government agencies and historical boards so that delays – or worse, outright denials – of your restoration are avoided.
Values the Integrity of Historical Architecture
It’s essential that you partner with someone who values the preservation of your historical architecture as much as you do. They should have prior experience working on historical restoration projects and make preservation their top priority. Get referrals from previous clients who are happy with their own restorations. Look at their body of work. The more historical building work they have done, the higher the level of trust you can place in their ability to do the job right.
Above all else, your historical restoration contractor should be someone with whom you are comfortable. We know that preserving history is a delicate process. Our goal with every historical restoration we do is to honor the past while providing you with a property that meets your current needs. We’re proud of our reputation for being customer focused.
Cottage Industries was honored to receive the Historical Preservation Award from The Radnor Historical Society for two of our projects in Wayne. We also completed several projects on the national historic registry. We specialize in authentic restoration and renovation to structures of a historical nature. Our extensive experience as a historical contractor includes properties throughout Philadelphia and the Main Line.
The skilled artisans we work with are trained in period restoration as well as classic techniques. We’re confident we can help you beautifully and authentically restore your historical home or building. To learn more about our historical restoration services, schedule a conversation with us today. We look forward to meeting with you!