Projects involving historic interiors range from the meticulous restoration of a classic cinema to the renovation of abandoned lofts for new residences. The size of the building, the importance of the interiors, and the scope of work will determine the best way to protect interior finishes during construction work. However, all work involving historic buildings shares the need to properly plan and specify the appropriate temporary surface protection products. Without such provisions, unnecessary damage may occur that will require additional funds and may lead to the total loss of certain interior finishes. Relying on the contractor to protect interiors without specifying such surface protection puts historic material and finishes at unnecessary risk. Protective measures should be specified in the construction specifications for the job. Although the general language of the contract may refer to “protect existing construction” and may require the contractor to “restore any damage to its original condition at no additional cost,” the general nature of the language provides little protection to existing finishes or historic features. . Rather than provide adequate protection, some contractors deliberately choose to repair damage, believing it is cheaper. Therefore, best practice for historic interiors involves specifying protection for all historic architectural features and finishes using temporary surface protection products.

An important difference between protecting historic interior features and finishes and protecting new interior features and finishes during construction is the construction schedule. In new construction, finishes such as cabinets and flooring are installed late in the construction schedule, after mechanical and electrical systems and other high-impact jobs are completed, thus not exposing the finishes to major construction operations . However, in preservation work, existing interior finishes are exposed to all of the high impact and potentially damaging construction phases of the project. Important architectural features that are easily removed should be stored off-site, if possible, to protect them from vandalism, theft, and damage during construction. Light fixtures, fireplace mantels, and interior doors are typical examples. Construction personnel should be restricted from access to spaces with significant characteristics and finishes, except for their work directly related to the preservation of said spaces. Restricted access spaces should be identified by the planning team and indicated in construction documents to allow the contractor to include associated costs in their pricing proposal. For spaces such as hallways and hallways, limiting access may not be feasible, and for all interior spaces, some construction work may be required. In such circumstances, interior finishes must be physically isolated from construction operations by protective barriers and coatings such as Zipwall systems. Such surfaces are generally limited to floors, walls up to about 6 feet high, and specialty constructions such as stairs. Floors must be protected from damage caused by abrasion, falling objects, and there are a variety of floor protection products available from companies that specialize in surface protection.

Temporary protection during construction may involve covering historic items such as floors and walls, as well as the use of temporary doors to control the passage of workers and the inevitable dust and dirt. Fire extinguishers located in prominent locations are required. When protection against spilled liquids is required, a waterproof surface protection layer should be used. In projects where electrical systems are being improved, the use of fire protection should be used. Care must be taken in choosing proper floor protection to ensure that moisture from spilled liquids is not trapped against the historic floor or that the newly installed or repaired floor can breathe. Care must also be taken to avoid coatings such as rosin paper, which could stain the historic floor. Stairs, balustrades, balconies, fireplaces, door frames, window frames, and other historic components will also need to be protected from construction damage. There are a variety of surface protection products on the market including Swiftwrap handrail protection, Ram Jamb door jamb protection, DoorGuard temporary door protection and others. It makes sense to contact a surface protection expert to choose the best temporary protection for the project.

Specifying temporary protection of historic interiors during construction is the responsibility of both the architect and the contractor. Most of the general conditions of a construction contract contain terms such as: “The Contractor will be solely responsible and will have control over the means, methods, techniques, sequences and procedures of construction and to coordinate all parts of the work. For construction projects preservation, it is recommended that temporary protection of historic interiors during construction be specified in a separate specifications section of Division 1 to ensure that bidders do not overlook the necessary provisions “as an additional cost and not as part of the requirements. temporary facilities required for any retrofit project. The Contractor’s Project Therefore, the manager can anticipate reasonable expenses to provide specific temporary surface protection during construction. The construction manager, who normally works for the owner, provides the best cost plus fees. Temporary surface protection should generally be specified in terms of product name, type and company where the products are available.

The contractor must photographically document the conditions prior to the start of construction. For small projects, a video survey can also be an effective supplement to photographs of existing conditions. The owner may wish to document existing conditions independently of the contractor to avoid any future disputes regarding damages caused by construction operations rather than pre-existing damages. Temporary protection of historic interiors during construction, an essential component of any preservation project, is largely a construction management issue. A successful protection program is the result of careful pre-planning, detailed project-specific specifications, owner oversight, contract compliance, and contractor diligence. Cost savings can be achieved by minimizing damage to the historic structure in the course of construction work and the proper use of temporary surface protection products.

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