The City of Lancaster is distinguished by its surviving stock of historic buildings, some more than 200 years old. Whatever a building's age, its long-term upkeep and survival depends upon periodic inspection and regular maintenance.
Some property owners wait to perform maintenance only after a significant problem arises. Unfortunately, major problems usually carry major price tags. Periodic inspections, followed by regularly scheduled maintenance, is the best way to identify small problems and minor deterioration before the building suffers significant damage.
Property owners can download a Preventative Maintenance Checklist to help them organize their inspections and track their maintenance schedules. When inspecting your building, keep in mind that damage visible in one area could be caused by a problem originating somewhere else. You might have to look carefully to determine the true source of the problem. For example, cracked plaster on a living room wall may be the result of a broken gutter, as rainwater has seeped through the outside brick walls.
Keep in mind that work on older buildings can disturb lead paint and asbestos, which may be present in materials used prior to 1980. Since disturbance of these materials can cause health problems, learn about the risks before starting your maintenance or rehabilitation projects. For information on the City of Lancaster's Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Program, call the City's Housing Rehabilitation and Lead Specialist 717-291-4705.
Any work performed on historic properties in Lancaster should be guided by historic preservation principles based on The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation. Reading through these principles will help property owners to think about planned projects, whether a routine repair or a major alteration.
If your house is 50 years old or older, it may contribute to one of Lancaster's historic districts. Even a house built in 1950 can contribute to a historic district, since it may convey information about popular architectural styles, building materials, and lifestyles in the decade it was built. A building does not have to be 200 years old to be a valuable asset to the City's architectural heritage, and deserving of appropriate care and maintenance.