The 4 Levels of Building Restoration

Depending on the type of building you are dealing with, four different levels of restoration methods can be applied. There are multiple factors that go into the decision to go with one method over another- the historical significance of the building, its primary function or purpose, if it must be reconstructed with original materials (and if those materials are even available) and many other components need to be considered. Builders will also need to look at what needs to be done to preserve the building itself, and if any features might be affected by its current state. Let’s say a new roof needs to be installed, for example, it might not be possible to use only original building materials, but it may still be better to add the new roof than to lose murals or decorative work inside which could be damaged or affected by being open to the elements. Here’s a brief idea of what each method entails.


Preservation is a form of restoration with the lightest possible touch, where no new materials are added to the building, and no form of repair or refurbishment is done. To simply put it, preservation involves preserving the building as it currently exists and preventing any further deterioration. The ultimate goal is to make the building last for as long as possible.


Similar to preservation, during a rehabilitation project no decorating or refurbishment is done, but, in this case, work is permitted to be done because the building would deteriorate further without it. Rehabilitation might involve work such as unobtrusively cleaning up and supporting crumbling walls which could otherwise lead to the collapse of the building, for example.


Restoration work may include elements of both preservation and rehabilitation, leaving as much of the building alone as possible, but doing what needs to be done to bring the building back to its original glory, while maintaining its historical accuracy. This process can also involve recreating missing features in either original materials or in new materials which are as close as possible to what would have been used originally. 


Depending on who you talk to, reconstruction can be quite controversial. Reconstruction projects allow for features or parts of the building to be recreated with new, modern materials, and can result in a completely new look to the building.

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