The Trust for Architectural Easements Believes in Preservation by Prevention

The Trust for Architectural Easements is one of the largest preservation easement holding organizations in the United States. The Trust protects more than 800 historic properties and is dedicated to preserving historic neighborhoods by raising awareness about the cause of historic preservation, and the resources and programs available to aid in the preservation and protection of America’s historic architecture.

Washington, DC, August 06, 2011 --( As Ben Franklin famously stated, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This aphorism applies to the care and upkeep of historic buildings. The most effective way for the owner of a historic building to prevent costly repairs is to properly maintain the building.

Water is the enemy of historic buildings. Water rots wooden building materials and causes metal ones to rust. By saturating masonry and subsequently freezing – and expanding – water can cause the masonry to spall or break apart. It is a necessary ingredient for mold growth, which is a health hazard, and further degrades building materials. And, it attracts insects. If you do nothing else, it is critical to make your building weathertight, keep a sound coat of paint or stain on wooden building materials exposed to weather, and guard against interior leaks. Following these steps will help you avoid the need to make much more expensive repairs in the future.

A simple story illustrates the point. The toilet in a guest bathroom is
not often used, and no one noticed that the toilet tank bolts were corroded. Eventually, the motion of the tank broke the bolts. Water from the tank flooded the bathroom, which is on the second floor above the master bedroom. The water leaked through the tile floor and wooden joists to the face of the drywall on the master bedroom ceiling. The cost of drying out the framing, removing the damaged drywall and replacing it, not to mention repairing the toilet, was in the thousands. If my friend had known that this was a relatively common problem and had checked the bolts regularly, he could have replaced the bolts with new fasteners for less than $10 and saved himself quite a bit of money and aggravation. While a frustration, the damage is now repaired, and the house is as good as new.

If my friend owned a historic home, however, the leak might have ruined an original plaster ceiling or wooden floorboards – a much sadder outcome.

Trust for Architectural Easements
Heather Bratland