Historic homes are symbols of a community’s character and heritage. Their renovation and rehabilitation encourages energy efficiency while reducing the need for new construction and use of raw materials. The National Park Service states that property owners may modify or improve historic homes as long federal funds are not tied to the property and the changes do not go against state historic preservation office (SHPO) guidelines or local preservation laws. When renovating historic homes, it is common for contractors to expect the unexpected. Through careful planning and construction moisture management, contractors ensure their work does not introduce new hazards.
Considerations when Renovating Historic Homes
Renovating a historic home requires careful planning and the expertise of preservation architects, preservation consultants, engineers, HVAC design specialists and construction drying services. This team of experts helps property owners prioritize the features, finishes and spaces they wish to preserve. When improving a historic property, contractors must also have a good understanding of the home’s purpose. For example, will the property owners live in the home or open it to the public? Will the home be occupied throughout the year or will it be used for seasonal activities?
One of the most common reasons that property owners renovate historic homes is to update its mechanical systems, particularly heating and cooling equipment. Depending on the owner’s needs, preservation specialists may recommend monitoring a home’s temperature and relative humidity levels for 12 months using a hygrothermograph because these are the conditions that preserved the home for years. Contractors and preservation specialists also take into account:
- The size of existing ductwork and the amount of space available for new ductwork
- The home’s heating and cooling load
- The heating, cooling and ventilation needs of the occupants, the building and its contents
- The need to strip exterior cladding or interior finishes to install vapor barriers and insulation
- The home’s ability to withstand vibrations cause by new HVAC equipment
- How to tighten the building envelope while retaining historic features and reducing energy losses
- The monitoring of ambient conditions using construction humidity control solutions to prevent problems such as corrosion, mold, the cracking and warping of wood and finishes, rot, and paint blistering
Benefits of Construction Moisture Management
When renovating a historic home, it is important to create conditions that facilitate the proper drying, curing, adhesion and performance of finishes and construction materials. This may be difficult and costly to do if the HVAC equipment is offline. If a home has a newer HVAC system, its warranty may not allow owners to use it for construction drying purposes. To avoid delays, ensure the performance of the materials installed, and prevent mold growth, the best contractors implement construction humidity control solutions to balance the project’s objectives with the building’s interior climate needs.
Construction drying services also offer the following advantages:
- Reliable drying and curing times for drywall mud, paint, finishes, concrete slabs and gypcrete
- Preservation of the appearance and functionality of millwork and interior hardwood by creating environmental conditions that prevent warping, splitting, cupping and expanding
- Maintaining appropriate moisture levels in wood framing
- Mold and corrosion prevention, regardless of the season
- Monitoring systems that ensure a site has the ideal conditions throughout the life of a renovation project
- Moisture mapping equipment that prove materials meet specifications
Polygon’s state-of-the-art construction moisture management solutions are custom designed for a project’s specific needs. They work independently of HVAC systems to reduce energy loads, ensure the quality of craftsmanship, prevent avoidable setbacks, and help projects stay on budget. Because Polygon’s solutions are energy efficient and promote a healthy environment, a historic home renovation project that implements them may earn indoor air quality-LEED credits. Learn more about ensuring the success and reducing the costs of historic home renovations by scheduling a complimentary consultation with a Polygon specialist today.