Do You Have Tips for Choosing an Architect or Contractor?Updated
Ask Your State Historic Preservation Office and Statewide Preservation Organization
Your State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and statewide preservation organization will be an excellent resource for you, as they will know of architects and contractors who have worked on historic buildings in your state. Appointed by the Governor, the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) in each state carries out the Nation's historic preservation program under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. A SHPO nominates properties to the National Register of Historic Places, reviews applications for certain tax benefits for rehabilitation projects, surveys and evaluates the state's cultural resources, and administers federal grants when available. A "statewide" is a nonprofit preservation organization which focuses on preservation issues in each state.*
Tips from the American Institute of Architects
When renovating your historic home or building, it is important to thoroughly research your options before making the decision to hire a contractor or doing it yourself. Do-it-yourself jobs, while they are sometimes cheaper, can take a great deal longer to complete than working with a contractor. For those who are interested in hiring an architect or contractor for a restoration project, the American Institute of Architects has compiled a list of tips, and a condensed version can be found below:
- Build a list of possibilities: find out who designed projects in your area that you like, ask historical societies, your State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO), home owners in historic districts, and local house museums what architects or contractors they have used in the past for restoration projects. If you are searching for a contractor and already have an architect, your architect may be able to recommend a contractor that they have worked with before.
- Contact the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects: the AIA closely monitors preservation issues, and will have a list of member-owned firms and companies that are trained in working on historic structures.
- Call each firm on your list: describe your project and ask if they can accomplish it, request literature on the firm's qualifications and experience. If the company is unable to handle your project ask for recommendations for other firms.
- Interview potential firms: Interviewing gives you a chance to meet the people who will be designing your project. Look for someone you feel comfortable with as you will be working with them for a while. Some firms charge fees for interviews so ask before hand.
- Questions to ask: How busy is the firm? Does it have the capacity to take on this project? Who will handle the job? Be sure to meet with them. Talk about your project budget and fees, ask to see a completed project, ask for references from past clients.
- Request Architect's Qualifications Statement (B431) or Contractor's Qualifications Statement (A305) from your local AIA Chapter. These qualification statements provide you with a way to judge the qualifications of the architect or contractor you are investigating.
For a complete copy of this checklist, visit the American Institute of Architects at www.aia.org.
Tips from Bob Yapp
Bob Yapp, from the historic house restoration show "About Your House with Bob Yapp," which was co-produced by the National Trust, provides home owners with a list of concerns to think about when dealing with contractors and architects:
· Always get a contract. Even if you are friends with the contractor, a written contract will insure that everyone understands what work is to be done, when it is to be completed, and what costs are involved.
· A good tight wooden storm window is more energy efficient so don't be pressured into buying a triple-track aluminum storm window to replace your wooden one. Even if the original wooden windows need to be replaced, you can sometimes keep the original wood sashes.
· It is perfectly reasonable to withhold 5-10% of the cost of a new or repaired roof until the first heavy rain.
· Always secure permits no matter how small the job is.
· Most vinyl siding will fade and warp after 10-15 years and will require repainting and repair. Consider this when a contractor tries to persuade you to cover your historic building with vinyl siding.
· You need a lien waver signed by a contractor to show that they have been paid in full.
To contact Bob Yapp, call Preservation Resources Inc. at 217-446-5395, or e-mail email@example.com.
Resources from the National Park Service
The National Park Service provides services, advice, and publications on historic preservation, restoration, and rehabilitation technology. Preservation Briefs are available free of charge from the National Park Service. These publications offer information about restoring historic structures. Each brief deals with a specific building material, including stained glass windows, structural glass, vinyl siding, terra cotta, and ceramic tile floors. Preservation Briefs are accessible online. Please visit http://www.cr.nps.gov/hps/tps/briefs/presbhom.htm or call 202-513-7270.