Assistance to Homeowners in Historic & Conservation Districts

Preservation Dallas Offers Help for the Repair/Replacement of Historic Materials

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In the frenzy and haste to get temporary repairs in place, receive insurance quotes and select contractors for repair work, homeowners are looking for a quick solution. While some solutions may temporarily address the repair, they could have a negative effect on the historic integrity of your property, and possibly your pocketbook.

The City of Dallas has assisted property owners by streamlining the Certificate of Appropriateness (CA) for Routine Maintenance and Construction Permit processes, thereby eliminating much of the documentation and staff time involved in the process. The homeowner is responsible for making sure they are preserving and repairing historic materials, or replacing them with new materials that match the quality and appearance of the original, and for finding a contractor that has experience with special historic materials. Preservation Dallas compiled the following information as a way to help homeowners with this process.
Certificate of Appropriateness and Conservation District Permit Process.

The City of Dallas has set up a temporary location at the Lakewood Library that combines the CA, Conservation District and Construction Permit processes in one location to make things easier and faster for those seeking to repair their historic roofing or windows without making the kind of changes that would require the Landmark Commission’s approval in historic districts – these kinds of repairs are called “routine maintenance” and are approved at the staff level. Come to the Lakewood Library June 26 – 29 and bring photographs of your roof or windows and other materials with you for best results (the City is not requiring photographs during this time in order to speed up the process, but if you can include them, it is typically in your interest to do so).

Selecting a Contractor
There are many established contractors with experience with historic homes in Dallas; Preservation Dallas has created a list of some of those contractors. Contractors not on this list may contact Preservation Dallas with information about their experience with historic properties for consideration. Homeowners should look for contractors who can demonstrate experience with historic materials and with the specific material of your repair. A typical roofing contractor may not be familiar with how to install clay tile, how to salvage it and the details associated with it. Protect yourself by requiring that your contractor demonstrate the relevant experience and get references.

Informing the Insurance Adjustor
Your insurance adjustor also needs to understand that historic materials require specialized expertise and are sometimes more costly than contemporary materials. For example, blown (wavy) glass is more costly than today’s float glass. Make sure your adjustor is aware that you are in a Historic or Conservation District and that your home has historic materials that have to be matched per the City’s preservation ordinance.
214.821.3290 TELEPHONE 214.821.3573 FAX www.preservationdallas.org

Getting the Results You Pay For
Getting the appropriate repairs and replacement materials can be a challenge. Preservation Dallas has created lists of materials resources to assist with this. There are some things a homeowner should do to protect themselves and their historic home from a less than ideal repair or replacement job:
1. Obtain two samples of each of your historic materials, including roofing, metal, wood and glass and let your contractor do the same and let them know you have your own samples. The purpose of the samples is to use them to make sure that the replacement materials used on your home match the historic material quality and appearance. For example, you do not want a cement board product or an inexpensive pine used to repair a historic Long Leaf Pine wood element – it will not match in terms of texture, it will not expand and contract the same way and it will not age the same way. Use your samples to ensure quality.
2. Take photographs of your house and specific materials before the contractor starts removing them. This, in addition to the samples noted above, is the record of what existed when the work started. Attach copies to the CA Application.
3. Require your contractor to salvage and re-use historic materials where possible. Some of the materials that are typically salvaged and reused are slate, clay tile, concrete tile and wood shingles. These materials have a long life. While there is some added cost in labor to salvage, you will retain the patina and aged appearance of your roof, the historic integrity of this element and re-use is better for the environment. Come to an agreement with your contractor on the amount of material that will be reused. Blend that material into the new roofing or use it on one or more of the facades. If you are told that in order to get a warranty for the roofing material, you have to have all new roofing, you may be getting inaccurate information. Typically, roof warranties only cover the roofing material, and so only the new portion of the roof. Contractors sometimes offer a one year warranty on their roof work as a whole – a good practice – which includes labor.
4. Require the contractor to match historic materials in all respects. If you know the manufacturer of your material, require the contractor to use that manufacturer and obtain proof that this is the product that is being used. This is to protect you from inferior but similar looking materials. Request a sample of the material the contractor proposes to use before allowing them to purchase the material. Use your sample to compare for shape, thickness, surface quality and color(s).
5. If a substitute material is proposed by your contractor, consider it very carefully before agreeing to use it. You will have to take that substitute material to the Landmark Commission to get permission to use it. Consider things like how the material will age, reflect light, how long it will last, and how easily it can be repaired and plan for the time to get approval from the Landmark Commission.
6. Temporary roofs may be necessary while the appropriate new material is ordered. While tarps are satisfactory for the short term, a roofing membrane or heavy- duty building paper have a longer, yet temporary life span. Be sure that roofing paper left exposed to the sun is replaced before the new roof is installed. In lieu or roofing paper (aka felt or rosin paper), use an Ice and Water shield or a similar membrane under clay tile, slate, concrete tile and wood shingle roofs.
7. Window glass may be hand-blown or blown (prior to c 1910) rather than the modern float glass that is typically available. Blown glass has small bubbles in it and is often called “wavy”. Modern glass will not match the surface characteristic nor the color of historic hand-blown glass. Bendheim is one supplier of this glass in the US – use the “light restoration” style. Salvage glass is sometimes also available. Both are more expensive than readily available glass.
8. Broken glass is typically easy to replace. Do not let a contractor replace the entire window unless you are confident the window sash itself has been damaged.