Most people don’t know about preservation architects & how the hiring of one can save you headaches, time & money.
How many times have you been house hunting, out for a Sunday drive, or just looking at images of houses online & been dismayed by choices made by folks wanting to “improve” their bungalows? These choices can include:
-Adding an attached garage- a triple one!
-Doubling the house’s size in a variety of strange configurations.
-Cladding the front exterior in marble (only the front, mind you. Marble’s ‘spensive!)
-Adding trim or features appropriate to other style periods, Victorian gingerbread being my favorite. I always feel like the bungalows are embarrassed to be wearing all this “fancy stuff.”
To be fair, I have also seen homeowners attempt period sensitive renovations, but due to a lack of understanding of the history & philosophy of the period, spend thousands of $$$, only to fail abysmally. Given that most of them also lack basic construction knowledge, not to mention building code intricacies, I’m going to make a bold suggestion- Maybe next time they should contact a historic preservation architect before they remuddle their poor, defenseless bungalow.
For those lucky enough to live in a historic district, such an architect will help you comply with the local regs as well as basic building codes & still get what you need to satisfy your tastes & lifestyle requirements. A good, experienced old house architect will be able to refer you to contractors who understand preservation & they can hook you up with the materials that you need. A preservation architect will understand everything about your historic bungalow & will be able to teach you a great deal.
BEST PRESERVATION PRACTICES
Best preservation practices are laid out in the The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. Though it sounds grand, scholarly & scary, it is actually a common sense guide to rehabilitating any cultural/historic structure, including your bungalow. Developed for registered buildings, it applies to any project aimed at preserving a property’s significance, providing guidance on the procedures, methods & materials to do so. These guidelines form the basis of historic district regulations all over the U.S.
The National Park Service, a section of the Department of the Interior, states that a historic preservation architect is “a specialist in the science and art of architecture with specialized advanced training in the principles, theories, concepts, methods, & techniques of preserving prehistoric & historic structures,” i.e., The Standards.
HOW DO YOU HIRE THE BEST PRESERVATION ARCHITECT FOR YOUR PROJECT?
- 1. Educate yourself on the history & design of your house. Even when hiring a pro, the more you know, the better your project will turn out. I always suggest Jane Powell’s books on bungalows because she’s done all the hard research & the photo’s are beautiful! A good place to start is BUNGALOW: The Ultimate Arts & Crafts Home. If this one merely whets your appitite, there are 5 more on various bungalow topics, each one more informative & fun than the last.2. Familiarize yourself with the 10 points listed in the Introduction to the Standards.3. As much as possible, have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish with your changes- reconstruct its features to return it to its original charm & character, add living space, increase its livability. Have a clean-ly stated purpose.4. Check your state preservation trust or other preservation websites for their lists of architects. I’ll be doing profiles of architects, but I certainly won’t be covering all of them! What I will do is the cover the most important points about each architect so that you can have a better idea of what you should be looking for in hiring one to design changes to your bungalow.5. Study their website & reviews, looking for training & credentials, awards, images of their work & happy clients.
Decide on a budget, the more itemized the better.6. Select 3 to interview. Some charge for interviews, so ask if there is a fee.
7. Be sure ask about & meet the person who would directly manage your project. Inquire as to their credentials & qualifications & ask about their availability. Ask for references on that particular architect on similar projects and check them. Drive around & look at their work.
8. Ensure that you understand everything in their proposal.
9. Feel confident with the firm & the architect before proceeding.
Have a great project!
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