Comprehensive Building Conditions Assessment
How does a building committee with no formal expertise identify problems, sort the multiple needs of its building, and deal with conflicting agendas? How can it establish a budget to plan for short- and long-term preservation goals and functional improvements? How can we convince possible donors to support specific projects without knowledge of the full condition of the building? Why spend money on windows if your roof leaks? The answer is to undertake a conditions survey.
Getting a building condition assessment is an essential step toward making informed decisions that can significantly affect your planning and prioritization of projects. A professional overview of building conditions with a prioritized list of recommended repairs provides an objective frame work for action and credibility to outside funders. It includes the structure, envelope, mechanical equipment, electrical systems, interior finishes, life safety, elevators, pavements and function in terms of accessibility by handicapped people. The document is the most comprehensive resource on all aspects of the building’s history, construction, condition, and maintenance.
In 2009 the congregation invested in a comprehensive building conditions assessment which was performed by Menders, Torry, and Spencer, an architectural firm specializing in historic preservation and design, and a stained glass windows conditions assessment performed by Julie Sloan, consultant for preservation of historic stained and architectural glass.
The reports gave us a road map of prioritized plans for restoration and provided a preservation philosophy to guide the work. Several problems were deemed as potential life safety issues, including toppling finials, falling slates from the roof, and shifting stones that threatened the priceless Tiffany windows.
This master plan for preserving the building was organized into two phases:
- Phase 1- 2010-2018: Address the critical problems on the building exterior. This would be the major focus over the coming years.
- Phase 2- 2019 onward: Repair and conserve the priceless Tiffany windows. This would be addressed once the building’s exterior was stabilized.
Structural and life safety issues were immediately addressed with funds raised with grants from the Henderson Foundation, the Amelia Peabody Charitable Trust as well as private donors, to complete a portion of the work on the pinnacles, and the 1865 stained glass windows and the massive wood doors on the Newbury & Berkeley Street entrances.