Substitute Siding and Trim on Existing Buildings

  1. Topic: Substitute Siding and Trim on Existing Buildings

  2. Definitions:

    For the purpose of these guidelines, the terms “substitute siding and trim” shall be understood to encompass the use of any contemporary vinyl, metal or other man-made material intended to cover all, or any part of, an exterior wall, trim work or other building element of existing structures located within a designated historic district.

    NOTEThis guideline covers existing structures; there is a separate guideline on “Infill Development (New Structures)”.

  3. Policy

    The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation Historic Buildings recommended against:

    “Removing a major portion of the historic wood from a facade instead of repairing or replacing only the deteriorated wood, then reconstructing with new material in order to achieve a uniform or ‘improved’ appearance.”

    “Removing or changing wood features which are important in defining the overall historic character of the building so that, as a result, the character is diminished.”

    “Using substitute material for the replacement part that does not convey the visual appearance of the wood feature or that is physically or chemically incompatible.”

    “Removing an entire wood feature that is unrepairable and not replacing it; or replacing it with a new feature that does not convey the same visual appearance.”

    The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation Number 6 states: “Deteriorated historic features shall be repaired rather than replace. Where the severity of deterioration requires replacement of a distinctive feature, the new feature shall match the old in design, color, texture, and other visual qualities and, where possible, materials.”

    The following guidelines concerning substitute siding and trim are provided to assist in the interpretation and application of the Secretary of Interior’s Standards and Guidelines.

  4. Guidelines

    1. Materials

      The use of substitute siding or trim in any form on an existing building is not recommended. Substitute siding or trim rarely replicates the dimensions or appearance of original materials. The use of original or comparable building materials is the only historically appropriate approach to the rehabilitation of any structure located in a designated historic district.

    2. Exceptions

      In order to qualify for the rare approval of substitute siding on an existing building, the application must meet all three (3)of the following tests:

      1. The substitute siding will replace other substitute siding on the structure; OR, there are other practical reasons to approve new substitute siding, such as:
        1. unreasonable cost of restoring the original material, judge in relation to the finished value of the property;
        2. lack of availability of original materials (or other suitable alternatives) or the skills necessary to apply those materials (an uncommon situation, probably applying only with rare masonry or shingle materials);
        3. an emergency (probably temporary) need to provide siding in a time period which does not allow use of the original material (or other suitable alternative).

        NOTE: Existing substitute siding or trim may be repaired with the same substitute materials without review.

      2. The substitute siding will be applied in such a manner that distinctive architectural details will be preserved or, if missing, may be recreated based on documentation.
      3. The proposed installation of substitute siding shall take into account the size, shape, color, texture and linear direction of the original building material. Substitute siding which possesses a simulated wood grain surface is not considered appropriate.
    3. Information Requirements

      The Commission shall review each application proposing the installation of substitute siding or trim on its merits. In any case where substitute siding is proposed, the following information should be included in the application:

      1. A detailed statement of the purpose and scope of the proposed installation of substitute siding or trim.
      2. Identification of any deterioration of the existing siding and trim, including the nature and extent of the deterioration, with cost estimates for repair or replacement of existing siding or trim.
      3. A detailed written description, including drawings and photographs, of exactly how all of the proposed substitute siding and trim is to be installed. Material and color samples should be submitted with this written description.

    These guidelines were approved by the Michigan Bureau of History as of June 10, 1998 pursuant to Section 5.(3) of Act 169 of 1970, as amended (Local Historic Districts Act).

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