The Economics of Preservation

A restoration mason at work.

A recent comment on a Before & After post on our Facebook page snark-ly asked, “How many people could have been fed with the money spent on that?”

As someone who works in the field, the ignorance about historic preservation economics demonstrated by the question is a bit astounding to me. I see the people every day who *are* being fed and feeding their families with the money spent on restoring and rehabilitating historic buildings.

In fact, compared to new construction, rehabilitating historic buildings is more labor intensive and consequently puts more money in the pockets of workers.

Statistics on the investment in restoring/rehabbing private homes are not easy to find, but they are available for commercial rehab projects using historic tax credits, which provide a clear view into the actual value of saving historic buildings.

A study of the Maine state historic tax credit program documents that from 2009 to 2019, 106 approved projects generated 200-700 full-time-equivalent (FTE) jobs through construction spending alone annually for the past decade. Source: https://legislature.maine.gov/doc/6365

Of course, labor income is only one part of the types of value preservation brings to communities. Place Economics studies this field and has dozens of reports on the subject on their website: https://www.placeeconomics.com/

“Restoring Your Historic House, The Comprehensive Guide for Homeowners” was written to help people who understand the many values of preservation.

Signed and personalized copies of the award-winning and bestselling 720-page hardcover book are available from the author in our shop, YourHistoricHouse.com/shop/.

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