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How to Preserve and Update Your Historic Building for Better Operations

Posted: November 22, 2021 at 4:46 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Preserving and updating your historic building is no small feat. While the structure requires special attention, there can also be some surprises that add up quickly. However, when a preservation project is adequately planned and executed, you can create efficiency for business operations and a more welcoming place for workers. Here’s how else it can benefit your business.

Source: Unsplash

Historic Preservation Benefits Your Business Operations

There are plenty of reasons why you may choose to operate your business in a historic building. For one, you might like the design and craftsmanship of a building’s architecture.

Aside from how it looks, historic buildings turn out to be an excellent investment for your endeavor. In addition to having a significant ROI, this can benefit your business’s operations in several ways.

Because a building is older, they are often built with long-lasting and high-quality materials. Many historical buildings are over 100 years old and can last 100 years more with the proper care and maintenance. With that in mind, you won’t have to spend as much money constantly making new updates as you would with a new building.

Another reason a historic building is a good investment is that you can sometimes save on recurring expenses with your utilities. Older buildings are already energy efficient in some ways, like with their thicker walls, and brick and wood framing.

You can also add modern energy-saving features for sustainability and further reduce your energy bills. Many features can add protection and preserve the character of your building, including:

  • Ceiling insulation
  • Roof solar panels
  • Storm windows

Open floor plans can permit better use for your business. These spaces often have high floor-to-ceiling heights, which allow you to keep your floor open for retail or office space.

Lastly, historic buildings can give you specific tax breaks. You can receive tax benefits by reducing your income, estate, and property taxes in exchange for maintaining the building’s character.

Tips for Preserving and Updating a Historic Building

When you preserve your historic building properly, you protect the culture and architectural heritage surrounding your community. Here are a few tips and factors to consider for updating your landmark building.

Financial Factors

The most important factor to consider when updating your existing building is the cost. Arguably, the cost of updating an older building is much less than building an entirely new one. Unless your goal is to restore a treasured landmark completely, then restoration may cost more than a new building.

Either way, budgeting will always come into play whether you’re a private or public business owner. You must ensure a realistic budget to guide you to make the best decisions moving forward, for yourself and your shareholders. Fortunately, there are plenty of cost-effective options available in your favor.

When it comes to cost advantages, the reuse of an older structure requires little to no demolition. Land acquisition is often less costly, and the utilities and services are already connected. This means the utilities may only need some modern updates.

You also have additional savings since the structure is already in place. Regardless of the nature of your historic building, you should also consider the process for zoning requirements. Put some research into local zoning codes to ensure the building’s intended use is permissible. If a zoning change is required, it will be much easier to address it early on in the project.

Ensure the Building Has the Ability to Support Modern Amenities

After determining your budgeting, you may feel tempted to pick new cabinets and add appliances to your building immediately. However, your first step to starting your project should be more practical than aesthetic.

Historic buildings can have more than one complication on occasion. These can directly affect the building’s integrity. When updating an older building, experts recommend that you retain and repair the original structural system as much as possible.

However, if you find additional amenities are needed, ensure the building’s current conditions are compatible with new additions.

Some historic buildings require sensitive alterations when updating the elements of the building’s structure. In some instances, it may be necessary to build an entirely new system to strengthen the existing building with modern innovations.

Preserve the Building’s Character

The next thing you need to consider in your building’s preservation project is the building’s significance to the surrounding community. Historic buildings have stood through numerous periods, yet they also have:

  • Rich architectural features
  • Detailed designs
  • Unique layouts that no longer exist with modern construction

Determining your building’s significance is essential for raising awareness, but it also helps receive grants and meet specific guidelines.

When it comes to making upgrades to your building’s appearance, there will be some information you need to know about its history.

Experts suggest working with past owners, local historians, and community leaders to learn as much information as possible. When restoring your historic building, you get the chance to keep the craftsmanship and local history intact.

Retain What You Can From the Original Building

When incorporating new additions, you should be careful to respect the building’s original character. Whether you’re making small or big changes, this can significantly impact the structure over time. So you must take special care to avoid any loss of the building’s integrity.

Avoid damaging characteristic features and finishes when making new upgrades. You should consider the original intent of the architect’s design and implement it with further changes.

Wherever possible, you should factor in working around the building’s major features. If replacement is unavoidable, you should try to match the original design, color, texture, and other materials. When substituting is unavoidable, try to convey the same form of the overall appearance. You should document these changes to the historic features as they appear.

Moving Forward

Many owners recognize the value in the process of preserving and updating a historic building. There is much appreciation for the low cost of labor and the cultural significance that revitalizes local communities.

Business owners can also capitalize on the building’s structure with a brand-new facelift. So whether you’re making new transformations or restoring the original, your building can become a well-loved fixture for your business and its community.


Eleanor is editor of Designerly Magazine. Eleanor was the creative director and occasional blog writer at a prominent digital marketing agency before becoming her own boss in 2018. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.

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