Tips for Selecting a Specialty Contractor

We believe restoration is an art, and those of us working in the restoration trades have spent years developing special techniques and expertise to handle a restoration project with the sensitivity necessary to maintain historic integrity.

A contractor with experience in restoration has developed what we refer to as "Restoration Temperament." Historic preservation demands both artistic ability and a great deal of patience for detail. Older homes and buildings have a great deal of character and unique aspects that make them as appealing as they are to many of us. Whenever possible, the goal is to retain or match the original aspects of the building as closely as possible. This is not always the quickest or easiest route to renovation. This often requires extra steps and may result in a slower production schedule than what you would experience in a new construction endeavor. Select someone whose experience tells them when to fix and when to replace, and can describe the different restoration methods to you clearly.

Of course, you have a distinct vision for how you want your project to turn out. Put your trust in a contractor who can offer you a cohesive look of quality in your project, providing a consistency of finish work that matches the quality in the original areas of the structure. Expect to be offered several options for your project ranging from using extensive reconstructive methods to more economical or modern techniques. Ask for clear descriptions of how the options differ, and the pros and cons of each. Select a contractor who can speak with both the technical expertise and an artistic ability regarding your restoration project.

You are hiring a professional to complete your important project. Be sure you select an insured contractor who is running a legitimate business. Be sure you are clear on what guarantees are provided and if there are any restrictions involved with the work or products being used. All the contractors you hire should carry appropriate insurances such as liability and workers' compensation so that you are not held responsible for any accidents or mishaps. Select someone who will put your project first and be able to commit to the timetable you desire.

Ask to review their portfolio of proven past experience in projects that compare to yours. A qualified professional's credentials should include: a resume or outline of projects completed, customer referrals and/or testimonials, and pictures and other samples of their work. If you are unfamiliar with a contractor, ask for several prior customer references that you may contact. Also ask why they are in this business - is it purely for business reasons, or is there a deeper artistic or vocational motivation as well?

Ultimately, you want to work with someone who "fits" you and your project. Projects and people are unique in what approach is best to complete the work. Do you want someone who will simply get the job done, a project manager/general contractor who will take all the decisions off your hands, someone who will partner with you during the design and productions phases, an expert who can offer many options and technical solutions, or an artist who can create a certain look?

Older buildings are special! Hire a contractor who has the necessary experience to manage the subtleties of historic architecture and features, and who values the finer details involved in a restoration project. Good luck on your project!


Updated: April 11, 2010
©Copyright 2013 Peter Lord Plaster & Paint, Inc. 24 Moody Rd, Limington, Maine 04049 207-793-2957

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