The Landmark Society of Western New York

Rehab Rochester - About this book

Table of Contents

  • Appendix I: The Secretary of Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation
  • Appendix II: Home Inspection Checklist
  • Appendix III: Bibliography
  • Appendix IV: Periodicals
  • Appendix V: Booklets, Brochures, Pamphlets and Information Bulletins
  • About this book

    We live in older homes for various reasons--their architectural complexity or simplicity, hidden nooks and crannies, tall ceilings, original woodwork, and histories. And it's no secret that older neighborhoods often have special charm characterized by interesting lawns and gardens, sidewalks, and porches where warm evenings are spent passing time with passers-by. Old-house living is part of what makes life interesting.

    Many people believe that old houses are plagued with problems. But this need not be. The key to a comfortable, problem-free home is keeping up with maintenance before problems emerge, developing priority lists of projects and seasonal chores, and understanding the difference between quality and budget building materials. Interestingly, these same recommendations pertain to the care and maintenance of a newer home.

    Quality home maintenance improves property values, promotes pride in the neighborhood, and saves you time and money. The enormous popularity of television shows such as "This Old House" and the growth of the do-it-yourself home improvement market are proof that homeowners want to know the correct method and materials to use, whether performing tasks themselves or hiring professional contractors.

    The Landmark Society of Western New York is dedicated to preserving older homes and neighborhoods. Rehab Rochester will support those of you living in and loving your special older home. This book provides useful information that has been collected and researched by the Landmark Society of Western New York, one of America's oldest preservation organizations. Every suggestion has been approved and recommended by architects, contractors, preservation consultants, and people who live in old homes and understand their quirks. We have not tried to address every problem encountered in home rehabilitation projects, but have focused on some of the most common and misunderstood projects.

    The nominal price of this book could save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in unnecessary or inappropriate home repairs. If, after reading this book, you have any questions or if you need additional information, call us. We'll be pleased to answer your questions, introduce you to our library, or refer you to other professionals specializing in old-house issues and rehabilitations.

    Steve Jordan
    Former Rehabilitation Advisor
    Landmark Society of Western New York



    Published by the Landmark Society of Western New York with support of the City of Rochester

    Made possible through a Certified Local Government Grant of the National Park Service, Department of Interior Administered by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

    Sponsored by
    Chase Manhattan Bank
    Rochester Gas & Electric Corporation
    Members of the Landmark Society of Western New York

    Written by Steve Jordan

    Book layout by Dan Malczewski

    Illustrated by Melissa Carlson

    Web design by Don Baird



    This book is dedicated to Rochesterians who maintain or renovate older houses.

    You continue the use of the resources of an earlier era, save the talents and labor of those who came before us, and enable your house to survive for the use of future generations.

    You are the ultimate recycler and conserver of energy! You improve the energy efficiency of an old house, and a house preserved means less construction debris in landfills.

    You also save the energy needed to make the bricks, lumber, roofing shingles, and other products that would otherwise go into a new house; an amount of energy that would heat a house for ten years.

    You add to the vitality of our city, as a positive influence on your neighbors and neighborhood and as a catalyst that spurs additional improvement.

    You counter the trend towards low-density sprawl that is wasteful of land and fuel, segregates people economically, and leads to traffic congestion.

    May everyone, including those who live in houses new or old, and those who live in the suburbs as well as the city, recognize the benefits of your efforts to insure that older houses and neighborhoods survive and thrive.

    Foremost, by maintaining an older house you create a wonderful home for yourself, your family, or for those who rent from you.

    We thank you and give you our best wishes.

    Landmark Society of Western New York



    The publication of Rehab Rochester has been made possible through public and corporate support and individual donations.

    Foremost, our ability to undertake this project was made possible by a Certified Local Government grant. This grant, administered by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, was awarded to the City of Rochester and suported much of the research and writing for this book. This grant will also enable the City of Rochester to distribute some complimentary coopies, the support of Mayor William A. Johnson, Jr. and Commissioner Thomas R. Argust, plus the assistance of Joe Mustico, Laura Nobles, and other city staff have been greatly appreciated.

    The idea for this book developed after 10 years of publishing one-page "House Notes" in the Landmark Society's newsletter. Ted Bartlett, former Landmark Society staff person, originated "House Notes," which were continued by Dorothy Victor and Steve Jordan. Architect John Bero has been both a contributor and consultant to "House Notes."

    Chase Manhattan Bank, our loyal, long-time sponsor of "House Notes," is a corporate sponsor of Rehab Rochester. Rochester Gas & Electric Corporation also is a corporate sponsor of this book, and we appreciate their assistance in reviewing the manuscript.

    The members of the Landmark Society, through their dues and donations, give us the ability to pursue worthwhile projects, and several have contributed monies specifically for this book: Giuseppe Erba, Jean and Robert France, Elizabeth Pine, Robert and Pat Place, and an anonymous donor.

    In addition, I would like to thank the book's author, Steve Jordan, for bringing a wonderful combination of knowledge and practical skills to this work. For 15 years, Steve worked as a painter and contractor, gaining an ever-increasing appreciation of older buildings. In 1990 Steve earned a Master of Historic Preservation degree from Cornell University, and in 1991 he became the Landmark Society's Rehabilitation Advisor.

    An important part of this book are the sketches by Melissa Carlson, an architect with Bero Associates. She completed these sketches while on maternity leave, in between caring for daughter Molly.

    Others have been important contributors and proof-readers, especially John Bero, Lucy Breyer, Susan Crego, Deirdre Cunningham, Cynthia Howk, Gerald Klafehn, John Loftus, Blythe Merrill, Flo Paxson, Catherine Rourke, Theresa Schwarz, Karen Wolf, and Jim Yarrington.

    For everyone who has helped with this book, thank you!

    Henry McCartney
    Executive Director
    Landmark Society of Western New York


    Words of Caution

    Maintaining your older home can be pleasurable--even fun, but it is always important to heed any safety precautions that are related tot he tools or materials you are using. If you are beginning extensive work, it's a good idea to buy a good respirator, safety goggles, leather gloves and chemical-resistant rubber gloves. If you are removing walls or razing any part of your house, you'll need a hard hat and steel-toed boots.

    All safety devices, guards, and protective covers must be maintained on your tools, and power cords must have an intact grounding plug. Each day, inspect your tools for frayed cords and dull blades, and always check the retractable blade guard on circular saws. If you frequently use power tools, build a sturdy work table, or use saw horses and boards at a comfortable working level. It's dangerous to cut boards supported by the porch rail, on the steps, or over the fence.

    Chemicals and noxious paints require adequate ventilation. Products that have never bothered you before may make you sick in an enclosed area; they might make a chemical-sensitive person extremely ill. Some extremely flammable products might require that all pilot lights are turned off, so always read label directions and precautions carefully.

    If you are living in a construction site, keep your living area clean of construction debris and dust. You don't want to bring in lead paint dust and asbestos fibers. It's a good idea to change your work clothes before entering your living space.

    And speaking of asbestos and lead-you should read some current literature about abatement procedures, precautions, and who is most often affected by exposure. With this information, you can make your own decision about what to do. Call the Monroe County Health Department at 274-8047 for more information about lead poisoning and abatement, and 274-8076 for more about asbestos.

    Rehab work can be gratifying and a lot of fun but it's a poor place to mix alcohol with pleasure--don't drink while working. Keep your work site clean of construction debris that might cause accidents. And finally, if you're tired, it's a good idea to put your tools away and do something else.

    Continue to Chapter 1 - Learning More About Your House

    Back to Table of Contents

    Return to Preservation and Advocacy Page

    Preservation and Advocacy
    2011 Regional Preservation Conference
    2010 Candidate Questionnaire
    Preservation Planning Services
    Preservation Boards and Commissions Network
    "Archi-Trash"? Understanding the Architecture of the Recent Past
    Midtown Plaza
    Preservation and Sustainability
    Building Technology
    Historic Building Research Guide
    Rochester Preservation Regulations
    Funding for Historic Preservation
    Rochester's Olmsted Parks
    Frequently Asked Questions
    Join the Landmark Society!
    Listing a Building in the National Register
    Advocacy Case Study: The Seneca Park Alliance "Save Our Seneca Park"