Problems with your older or historic building?

Call JOHN LEEKE, Preservation Consultant for Practical Economical Solutions.

My goal is to help you care for your older or historic building in the most efficient and effective way possible. You can count on me to listen to you, recognize your needs and focus my abilities to your best advantage.
All of my recommendations are developed to meet your specific needs and presented so you can understand and implement them. Recommendations are designed to match your existing resources so funding is not a limitation. I have co-authored successful grant applications to the Getty grant program and other funding agencies. I keep up-to-date on changing fund sources and will work with you to locate and secure additional funds when they are needed.
Finding experienced professionals, contractors and craftspeople is difficult in some regions. I can put you in touch with the best through my national networks of contacts. When none are available I know how to find responsive people and can train them in the special skills, methods and techniques so often needed for historic building work.
I am a registered building assessor for the federal Heritage Preservation,  Conservation Assessment Program.
Feel free to give me a call  or send email. I’ll help you understand your situation and how I can help. If you decide my services will be of value I’ll send a written proposal for you to consider.– John

John Leeke, Preservation Consultant
26 Higgins St.
Portland, Maine 04103
Voice: 207 773-2306
(For questions or comments on topics other than doing business with me, please go to the Historic HomeWorks Forum)

Preservation Consultant?  Back in the 1980s the hysterical preservationists started calling me “preservation consultant”, and I guess it stuck–no matter what I do I can’t get it off me. I even tried that new orange paint stripper.

Consulting Services

Onsite Consulting

The three most common onsite consulting services I provide are surveys, assessments and investigations. Each level of service provides a focus for the increased detail and higher cost of the next level. You may only need one level, two, or all three to get the information you need. The result is practical guidance in repairing your historic house while preserving its historical significance and architectural character.

Survey and Recommendations

In the survey I consider the entire building and identify areas of concern that require further attention. I identify the physical condition of the building’s systems. I identify the major features that contribute to the building’s architectural character and historic significance.

I walk around and through the building to view all readily accessible interior and exterior surfaces finding clues to the building’s condition and character.

The result is a list of recommendations, that may include general maintenance strategies, specific maintenance tasks, needed repairs as well as recommendations for any needed assessments and investigations. The list is prioritized according to the needs of the building. The results of this survey can be used as the first step in project planning or the initial assessment phase of developing an effective maintenance program.

Assessment and Planning

I examine areas or building systems identified by the survey in detail to determine the type of construction, materials and conditions. I identify problems and develop theories to explain the causes of poor conditions. I judge whether or not the system or parts meet standards and if they need treatments, such as maintenance, repair or replacement; and, whether or not they contribute to the character or significance of the building.

Non-invasive methods are used that do not damage the building. This might include examination of paint chips or wood fibers with a microscope, or measuring the moisture content of wooden building parts with an electronic moisture meter. I document findings with photos, sketches and written notes.

I write a report that presents my findings and recommendations with descriptions, photos and sketches. Recommendations may range from detailed treatments that include specific methods and materials, to recognizing the need for further detailed investigations. The report can be used to develop a program or plan to bring the current building conditions up to a standard that meets the goals and objectives of the owner.

Investigation and Problem Solving

I thoroughly and systematically investigate problems identified in the survey or assessment, to track down and determine their causes.

Investigations may be invasive, requiring the opening of walls and other surfaces to examine the structures within. Openings are carefully done to limit damage and closed after the investigation. Microscopes, boroscopes and other specialized equipment may be used. Samples may be taken for detailed examination, later matching, or sent to a specialist for analysis.

Treatments are recommended to repair existing damage as well as address the fundamental causes of the problems. Treatments include specific methods, procedures and materials. Historical investigations include documentary research as well as an examination of the building itself to determine how the building was first constructed and has changed over the years.

Long-Distance Consulting

On smaller projects or when my involvement is limited it may not make economic sense for me to travel to your site. I may still be able to help by reviewing your situation and fielding questions from you, your tradespeople, contractor or architect. For long-distance consulting there is a minimum cost of $700, payable in advance, which gives you access to eight hours of my time. See the details here along with a sample long-distance consulting log.

Fees and Costs

Typically I can survey a residential building and make prioritized assessments and recommendations with two days onsite and three days for analysis and report writing, which may be onsite or back in my office. My rate is currently $800. per day. Payment terms are 50% in advance, 40% at the beginning of the last day onsite and 10% upon delivery of the report. Additional expenses would include meals, lodging and travel. Sometimes clients provide transportation, meals or lodging to reduce expenses.

I am very willing to travel. Typically it costs $2000.-3000. in travel time and airfare to get me onsite across most of the country. In New England travel costs by car range up to $800. Lodging is often at a nearby inn or B&B. One way to reduce these “overhead trip costs” is to help me find one or two other clients to serve on the same trip, so I can split the travel costs among the clients. Given four to six months I can usually drum up other business anywhere in the country, so please do call, even if it looks like the travel costs do not fit your budget.

You may be eligible for grant or tax-break programs that would pay for or offset my fees, particularly if your building was built before 1939, will be in commercial use, is on (or eligible for) the National Register of Historic Places, or is a contributing building in a registered historic district. In any case, call your state’s historic preservation office to determine if you are eligible and to learn of other funding programs in your state.

As you can see I am set up to help on any level of need or budget–from answering a single question to planning and managing a major project. I have a solid background of practical experience working on early buildings. I can put that experience to work for you. With 45 years of hands-on experience and 37 years consulting, I know I can provide you with practical and economic guidance.

I am always willing to accept specific assignments to meet your particular needs.

Just call 207 773-2306 or send email to let me know how I can help and I will provide you with a specific written proposal for your consideration.

Contact info:

John Leeke
26 Higgins St.
Portland, ME  04103
207 773-2306

4 thoughts on “Office”

  1. Hi,

    I am moving into a house from 1850 and the original windows were replaced with vinyl ones. I was hoping you knew of a source where I could locate windows that would at least “look” original to the house? I would love to make the house look more of it’s era. Its a tad all over the place in styles.

    Thank you!

  2. I own a farmhouse in Brunswick, ME built in 1857. It has many of the original windows and I am looking for a restorer. Can you recommend anyone?

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