Guidelines For Rehabilitating Historic Buildings: Building Site
GUIDELINES FOR REHABILITATING HISTORIC BUILDINGS: BUILDING SITE
U.S. Department of the Interior
National Park Service
Preservation Assistance Division
An illustrated booklet addressing the Secretary's Standards and the
guidelines is available from the U.S. Government Printing Office.
The title is "The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for
Rehabilitation & Illustrated Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic
Buildings", ISBN 0-16-035979-1.
Each of the guidelines included in the booklet mentioned above have
been separated into individual entries for specific use in HBPP.
This entry represents one of many guidelines included in the
booklet and describes RECOMMENDED and NOT RECOMMENDED applications
of the Secretary of the Interior's Standards as they relate to
Building Site. For a list of the Secretary of the Interior's
Standards for Rehabilitation, see 01091-04-S; For general
information relating to the purpose, organization and content of
the individual guidelines, see 01091-05-S. Both of these entries
should be referenced along with the information contained in this
The relationship between a historic building or buildings and
landscape features within a property's boundaries -- or the
building site -- helps to define the historic character and should
be considered an integral part of overall planning for
rehabilitation project work.
IDENTIFYING, RETAINING AND PRESERVING
- Identifying, retaining, and preserving buildings and
their features as well as features of the site that are
important in refining its overall historic character.
Site features can include driveways, walkways, lighting,
fencing, signs, benches, fountains, wells, terraces,
canal systems, plants and trees, berms, and drainage or
irrigation ditches; and archeological features that are
important in defining the history of the site.
- Removing or radically changing buildings and their
features or site features which are important in defining
the overall historic character of the building site so
that, as a result, the character is diminished.
- Retaining the historic relationship between buildings,
landscape features, and open space.
- Removing or relocating historic buildings or landscape
features, thus destroying the historic relationship
between buildings, landscape features, and open space.
- Removing or relocating historic buildings on a site or in
a complex of related historic structures -- such as a
mill complex or farm -- thus diminishing the historic
character of the site or complex.
- Moving buildings onto the site, thus creating a false
- Lowering the grade level adjacent to a building to permit
development of a formerly below-grade area such as a
basement in a manner that would drastically change the
historic relationship of the building to its site.
PROTECTING AND MAINTAINING
- Protecting and maintaining buildings and the site by
providing proper drainage to assure that water does not
erode foundation walls; drain toward the building; nor
erode the historic landscape.
- Failing to maintain site drainage so that buildings and
site features are damaged or destroyed; or,
alternatively, changing the site grading so that water no
longer drains properly.
- Minimizing disturbance of terrain around buildings or
elsewhere on the site, thus reducing the possibility of
destroying unknown archeological materials.
- Introducing heavy machinery or equipment into areas where
their presence may disturb archeological materials.
- Surveying areas where major terrain alteration is likely
to impact important archeological sites.
- Failing to survey the building site prior to the
beginning of rehabilitation project work so that, as a
result, important archeological material is destroyed.
- Protecting, e.g., preserving in place known archeological
material whenever possible.
- Leaving known archeological material unprotected and
subject to vandalism, looting, and destruction by natural
elements such as erosion.
- Planning and carrying out any necessary investigation
using professional archaeologists and modern
archeological methods when preservation in place is not
- Permitting unqualified project personnel to perform data
recovery so that improper methodology results in the loss
of important archeological material.
- Protecting the building and other features of the site
against arson and vandalism before rehabilitation work
begins, i.e., erecting protective fencing and installing
alarm systems that are keyed into local protection
- Permitting buildings and site features to remain
unprotected so that plant materials, fencing, walkways,
archeological features, etc., are damaged or destroyed.
- Stripping features from buildings and the site such as
wood siding, iron fencing, masonry balustrades; or
removing or destroying landscape features, including
- Providing continued protection of masonry, wood, and
architectural metals which comprise building and site
features through appropriate surface treatments such as
cleaning, rust removal, limited paint removal, and re-
application of protective coating systems; and continued
protection and maintenance of landscape features,
including plant material.
- Failing to provide adequate protection of materials on a
cyclical basis so that deterioration of building and site
- Evaluating the overall condition of materials to
determine whether more than protection and maintenance
are required, that is, if repairs to building and site
features will be necessary.
- Failing to undertake adequate measures to assure the
preservation of building and site features.
- Repairing features of buildings and the site by
reinforcing the historic materials. Repair will also
generally include replacement in kind -- with a
compatible substitute material -- of those extensively
deteriorated or missing parts of features where there are
surviving prototypes such as fencing and paving.
- Replacing an entire feature of the building or site such
as a fence, walkway, or driveway when repair of materials
and limited replacement of deteriorated or missing parts
- Using a substitute material for the replacement part that
does not convey the visual appearance of the surviving
parts of the building or site feature or that is
physically or chemically incompatible.
- Replacing in kind an entire feature of the building or
site that is too deteriorated to repair -- if the overall
form and detailing are still evident -- using the
physical evidence to guide the new work. This could
include an entrance or porch, walkway, or fountain. If
using the same kind of material is not technically or
economically feasible, then a compatible substitute
material may be considered.
- Removing a feature of the building or site that is
unrepairable and not replacing it; or replacing it with
a new feature that does not convey the same visual
NOTE: THE FOLLOWING REPRESENTS PARTICULARLY COMPLEX TECHNICAL OR
DESIGN ASPECTS OF REHABILITATION PROJECTS AND SHOULD ONLY BE
CONSIDERED AFTER THE PRESERVATION CONCERNS LISTED ABOVE HAVE BEEN
DESIGN FOR MISSING HISTORIC FEATURES
- Designing and constructing a new feature of a building or
site when the historic feature is completely missing,
such as an outbuilding, terrace, or driveway. It may be
based on historical, pictorial, and physical
documentation; or be a new design that is compatible with
the historic character of the building and site.
- Creating a false historical appearance because the
replaced feature is based on insufficient historical,
pictorial and physical documentation.
- Introducing a new building or site feature that is out of
scale or otherwise inappropriate.
- Introducing a new landscape feature or plant material
that is visually incompatible with the site or that
destroys site patterns or vistas.
ALTERATIONS/ADDITIONS FOR THE NEW USE
- Designing new onsite parking, loading docks, or ramps
when required by the new use so that they are as
unobtrusive as possible and assure the preservation of
character-defining features of the site.
- Placing parking facilities directly adjacent to historic
buildings where automobiles may cause damage to the
buildings or landscape features or be intrusive to the
- Designing new exterior additions to historic buildings or
adjacent new construction which is compatible with the
historic character of the site and which preserve the
historic relationship between a building or buildings,
landscape features, and open space.
- Introducing new construction onto the building site which
is visually incompatible in terms of size, scale, design,
materials, color and texture or which destroys historic
relationships on the site.
- Removing nonsignificant buildings, additions, or site
features which detract from the historic character of the
- Removing a historic building in a complex, a building
feature, or a site feature which is important in defining
the historic character of the site.
END OF SECTION