Friday, January 3, 2014

The Big Question

You are the owner of a period home, perhaps Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian or Pre-WW2. It has been finished on the exterior either in brick or stone — or both.
When you look at its outside walls, it’s obvious something needs to be done.
But what is your ultimate objective?
In a utopian kind of a way, perhaps you should be saying “I want to restore it to its original condition”.
But there is a lot that would involve, financially and otherwise.
It’s one thing when the government is entirely subsidizing a project, and the individuals making the final decision feel a fiduciary responsibility to ensure the work will last several generations; but it’s another matter entirely when the adjudication has to filter through the many priorities we’re all personally facing.
So what ends up all-too-often happening is that the lowest price is opted for.
But that can create problems, as a beautiful period dwelling, which was simply is need of maintenance, can become defaced (see picture); the cost being the lost of its vintage character — a plight that’ll be passed along to all future owners of that property, I might add.
For this very reason, there are homeowners who want to avoid such disasters and proceed more carefully, seeking out contractors who specialize in historic masonry. And these companies will tend to propose the longer term options, being what seems logical to them based on their experience and education.
The right balance, in my opinion is to offer what I call a “minimum viable standard” in the residential market.
This constitutes a recommendation to only deviate from the ultimate standard in ways which will potentially not make the repair last as long, but ensuring that whatever is done will not cause damage to the historic fabric, or ruin its aesthetic qualities.
Furthermore, there is also the question of intrusion. Wrapping up the entire house in scaffolding for an entire summer, while removing thousands of bricks and all the mortar joints of the structure, generates noise and a ton of dust. It tends to ruins landscaping and other valuables. It might necessitate re-painting most wood trims. You and your neighbors can’t leave windows open during that time. It clogs up the A/C system unless the latter is sealed and therefore unusable for a period of time.
In other word, there will be intrusion to a lesser or larger degree, and minimizing it can go a long way to improve your peace of mind as well as maintaining harmonious relations with your neighbors.
This may not be something you personally care about, but I have found it to matter very much to most of my clients.
This is why, we personally put a lot of emphasis, at Invisible Tuckpointing Ltd., my Toronto-based company, on keeping the job site as immaculate as possible during the project and upon its completion.
So ‘the big question’ might be posed as “How can I get performed what needs to be done affordably, yet properly, but without going overboard, while minimizing disruption for our family as well as our neighbors?”
Contact me:
Toronto residents: www.invisibletuckpointing.com

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