Historic Masonry Restoration – Just the Facts

Historic Masonry Restoration – Just the Facts

The reparation and restoration of historical masonry structures and buildings is an art form with distinctive challenges. Not only do the buildings and their structures need to retain the original aesthetics but brick and mortar must be matched to existing walls. If not accomplished properly, the historical property will look different, obviously altered from the original structure. Hiring a seasoned professional can make all the difference in recreated and matching the original colors and maintaining the integrity of the historical property. Let’s explore historic masonry restoration and the standards required for the conservation of Canada’s historic properties.

Conservation of Historic Places – Canada

The first heritage conservation team in Canada, the Conservation of Historic Places offers strict standards and guidelines for historic restoration. These guidelines are regularly updated to ensure sound decision making in historical renovations and restoration, thus showcasing the historical signification. The standards include:

  • The preservation of heritage and value, without the removal, replacement, or any dramatic changes which deplete the character of the original historical structure.
  • The conservation of previous character defining alterations which are part of the building or structure.
  • The performance of the restoration project with minimal intervention.
  • Restoration to be complete without alterations which can diminish the historical record of the property or structure.
  • Ensure the historical property use does not require extensive alterations.
  • There should be no changes which disturb, damage, or remove archeological resources of the historical structure or surrounding property.
  • Reparation and renovation should always be done in the least invasive manner.
  • The ongoing maintenance of any and all character defining elements.
  • All renovations and replacements should be properly documented and notable when inspected.

In addition to these guidelines and standards, historical restoration must also meet rules and codes related to the historical significance of the property. For example, regulations may determine property use and require occupants to honor the original historical use of the property in some manner. Local historical officials can offer insight into code regulations for properties in their jurisdiction.

Repair versus Replace

As the guidelines and standards indicate, reparation is preferred over replacement in the restoration of historical structures. Reparation maintains original structure and character, as well as historical elements. Frequent replacements can result in a replica of versus the maintenance of the original historical building. In some instances, replacement is required when damage is extensive, but replacement should be documented and always match the original structure including shape, texture, color, so that no visible differences are apparent.  Historical properties are fragile, and require expert care during reparation, restoration, or replacement. 

The Question of Additions

Like reparations and replacement of parts, additions to a historical structure should always pay tribute to the character of the original. While the addition may be obviously new, it should complement the history of the existing property.

Building Plans and Blueprints

For many historical properties, building plans or blueprints are non-existent because the builders used tried and true techniques handed down from generation to generation. Even so, when preparing for a historical property restoration, you should seek out the building plans and blueprints, just in case they exist.  Talk to your realtor or neighbors or visit the city archives or library for clues to help you locate the needed information regarding your historical property. If architectural plans are available, they can enhance the restoration process, staying true to the historical character of the property.

At Turnbull Masonry, we specialize in historical renovation, following the standards, guidelines, and codes in place to ensure your property is restored with expertise and quality. Call today and let’s get started.