We are so often told to focus on “location, location, location” when researching property, and we do. Sites such as Zillow, Trulia, Property Shark, Loopnet and StreetEasy provide a wealth of information regarding a building’s location such as area amenities, schools, what other properties are selling for, etc. These sites provide good introductions to help you move into one of your biggest investments. But when you finally find the property in the best location, you then begin to take ownership of a property with a history that is largely unknown to you. And this is where having a Historical Building Prospectus (HBP) comes into play.
For restoration work, a comprehensive HBP would contain the information needed to assist in planning the work, such as replacing missing trim or period windows. This information can be easily accessed and reviewed by the architect and design team to utilize in their plans. As work is conducted on the building, applications and reports can be analyzed by the building researcher and pertinent information can be abstracted and added to the HBP for future projects and reference.
Adding to the HPB as you go along provides assurance that the restoration venture you are working on has been planned surrounding a total understanding of the history of your building. For instance, a building engineer’s report which outlines risk factors, or the proposed plans of an architect and interior designer are included regardless of whether or not the work ends up being conducted. Personal, professional, or historic commission notes of why any work was halted, delayed, or reworked would also be included.
When it is time to sell, information in an updated HBP provides you with the confidence that you have everything you need to consider and factor into the property’s valuation. Informing potential buyers that a comprehensive Historical Building Prospectus is available can provide them with confidence knowing that they will have a full understanding of the property they are purchasing.
Aside from knowing your building’s worth, the information in the HBP will assist you or your broker in developing a story using information about previous owners, residents, and events surrounding your property. This can be included in a listing write-up to distinguish your property from others on the market and just might reveal a story big enough to increase the value of your property. (See example stories at www.buildingchronicles.com)
There is no doubt that an HBP is useful when it comes to having a complete understanding of your building, essential when renovating or restoring, and is invaluable during resale. But there is another more personal use for the information - building your legacy.
Your personal contribution to your property is an integral part of its evolution. You might have restored the building, renovated it, hosted events, supported charities, patented an invention, or impacted society in other ways while living or working in the building. When researching the evolution of the building you might want to include the owners and residents, events which occurred, and uses of the building along with your personal contribution. Tell the story of friends and family. This is your story, your legacy. If you don’t document it, who will?
While the process of developing a Historical Building Prospectus may appear daunting, working with a building researcher such as NY House Histories can make the process easy and doable. Contact us for more information on research, developing a listing story, or developing your legacy.