When a building succumbs to significant distress from fire, moisture, decay or other causes, there are generally two paths the community can take: tear the building down and build a new one, or take measures to restore it. In some cases, the damage is too extensive to undo and the building must be condemned. However, in many situations, the decision to raze or restore is a difficult one.

On one hand, destroying a building can lead to backlash from the community. What if the structure is a landmark, or a historical icon, or of some other cultural importance? On the other hand, restoration can be a long, expensive, arduous process that doesn't necessarily leave the contractor with many aesthetic options. But there are building restoration technologies that can transform a structure from a low-performance, dilapidated building to a modern, sustainable one without running into aesthetic issues.

Many buildings could use an updated facade.Many buildings could use an updated facade.

Duluth building gets last chance for restoration
Five years ago, a building in Duluth, Minnesota, was engulfed in flames. Today, it still stands – to the chagrin of some Duluth residents. It's widely regarded as an eyesore, according to Fox 21, and some folks want it torn down. But Mike Conlan, former Duluth director of planning and development, is hopeful his team can make the necessary repairs to allow the building to flourish.

"There's a little bit of displacement in the arch and we're seeing that in a few areas," Conlan told Fox 21. "That wasn't there last year, so that tells us the clock is running."

Mayor Don Ness also wants the building restored, but admitted Conlan had to "step up in a major way" to do so. Conlan had his application for $7 million in Housing Tax Credits denied last year but believes it could be approved this time. If he's able to get the finances to restore the building to code standards, the next step would be to update the facade and exterior systems.

Restoration systems take a 4-tier approach
As long as a building is salvageable, there is a restoration technology that can help bring it back to life. Beyond structural repairs, most buildings in need of restoration also require recladding, refinishing, new or better insulation, weatherization and so on. That's why brands like Sto Corp offer four tiers to building restoration:

  1. Clean and recoat: This is for simple renovations. It involved removing dirt and debris while replenishing the color of the exterior facade.
  2. Repair and  refinish: As the next level up, this program identifies and repairs small cracks and fissures before they amount to a significant problem.
  3. Overclad: When there are moisture or air intrusion issues, this solution addresses that by providing a high-performance and attractive facade.
  4. Remove and reclad: If damage is extensive, it's time to go for a new cladding altogether.

It's important for contractors to identify which of these steps a building requires and to use the minimal restoration necessary. However, that doesn't mean they should skimp on the job – Sto systems are an opportunity for a building to not only become tenable for new occupants, but to shine as an example of sustainability.

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