By Doug Eisele
Part 2 of 2 –
Careful maintenance can extend the life of custom home features.
A long-term property maintenance strategy should include planning and budgeting for regular work such as exterior painting or roof replacement, and for capital improvements. The cost of maintenance will always be less than that of a major preservation effort after a period of long neglect.
Careful housekeeping can greatly extend the life of building materials. Removing dirt from floors and other contact surfaces limits deterioration by abrasion. Keeping the building free of food waste reduces the likelihood of pest infestation. Use housekeeping and maintenance tools and equipment carefully to protect building materials. Avoid operations that might cause incidental damage. For example, a sharp metal tool used to remove ice can leave gouges in a stone step and metal parts on mops can easily scrape finishes.
Written and photographic records provide valuable information for scheduling maintenance and improvements and for long-range planning. Keep accurate, complete written records of inspections, maintenance work and repairs on site. Photographs are always desirable. Include names and manufacturers of any cleaning or maintenance products used. This information may provide clues for unraveling future material deterioration problems.
ALTERATIONS AND IMPROVEMENTS
Consider the building materials before altering a building’s environment.
When your main goal is building preservation, consult with an architectural conservator when planning alterations or improvements, especially if the changes are being considered to solve specific problems such as a damp basement. The potential effect of a change on other elements and systems of the building must be fully understood. For example, installing central air conditioning will not only change the environment of different spaces within a building, but also may have a significant impact on the building materials. Any changes made should be easily reversible to return the building to its original condition.
Disasters can have a devastating impact on a structure, sometimes even necessitating its demolition. Fire, flooding (from natural causes or plumbing failures), hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and other disasters can all cause significant damage. Planning for disasters can help lessen their impact.
Initially, develop a plan to respond to fire. Early detection is critical. Heat and smoke detectors are available at hardware stores and more sophisticated systems can be purchased from specialized dealers. These systems must be tested regularly to be sure they work. Place appropriate fire extinguishers throughout the building, and inspect them regularly. More expensive suppression systems like sprinklers are also available and …read more
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