Building Restoration and Preservation workers seal and repair historically significant buildings and structures. The Building restoration trade brings together professional craftspeople and artisans with specialized knowledge in masonry, along with craftspeople skilled in reproducing correct replicas of architectural stonework, carvings, and metalwork.

What Do Historic Restoration Workers Do?

Meaningful historical structures often fall into disrepair with time, and historic restoration workers are responsible for respectfully refurbishing and repairing these buildings in order to preserve them for years to come. These workers use careful processes and procedures to preserve and restore historic buildings to their former glory while bringing them up to modern standards of health and safety. They may integrate new technology such as elevators into old buildings, add new floors, repair crumbling walls or foundations, add structural support, or even relocate historical structures to new sites. Many historical structures are made of terra cotta, which is a type of reddish-brown clay, and certain historic restoration workers are trained in carefully restoring this common material where it has been damaged by water or other elements.

Career Snapshot

Architectural Restoration and Historic Preservation is a growing field that focuses on the protection of cultural heritage through the restoration and conservation of buildings, documents, art and artifacts with historic significance. Individuals working in the construction sector of this growing field are often called Preservation Carpenters. They perform many typical renovation and maintenance tasks. Of special note in historic preservation is the need to consult historic documents to ensure that repairs and upkeep to historic buildings maintain the original appearance of the building and surrounding landscape. Preservation Carpenters may also plan and execute retrofits of historic buildings to enable modern use with minimal impact to the structure, under the supervision of a historical architect and/or preservationist.

Job Details

Preservation Carpenters typically do the following:

  • Repair windows, brickwork and other structural elements
  • Restore old windows so they’re relatively energy-efficient yet retain their original materials and detailing
  • Repair, restore and replicate detailed wood molding and other millwork
  • Shore-up old structures with minimally invasive and/or invisible techniques
  • Replicate and blend wood finishes
  • Modernize historic buildings to meet current standards for accessibility, energy-efficiency, safety and other performance factors
  • Dismantle and reassemble homes, barns and other buildings.

Education and Experience

High School diploma or equivalent. General carpentry principles and practices are required in addition to experience or certification in a specialty program emphasizing architectural history and conservation practice to successfully make historically accurate repairs and renovations.

Career Outlook

  • Annual pay: A Preservation Carpenter will likely earn a salary of around $46,500. Preservation carpenters are often self-employed, so earnings are contingent upon the number and types of restoration projects they work on.
  • Employment of Preservation Carpenters is projected to grow 8% from 2018 to 2028.
  • Entry-level education: Typically requires a high school diploma or equivalent

Career Growth Opportunity

If you work in the Architectural Restoration and Historic Preservation construction sub-sector, you may be employed by historic sites or societies, and earn a regular wage. Some Preservation Carpenters become contractors and open their own businesses.

Professional Associations

  • Association for Preservation Technology Int’l. - APT is a multi-disciplinary, membership organization dedicated to promoting the best technology for protecting historic structures and their settings. Membership in APT provides exceptional opportunities for networking and the exchange of ideas.
  • National Trust for Historic Preservation - This privately funded non-profit organization works to save America's historic sites; tell the full American story; build stronger communities; and invest in preservation's future.
  • HistiCorps - This organization represents a network of volunteers and professionals with a mission to save and sustain historic places for public benefit through partnerships that foster public involvement, engage volunteers and provide training and education.
  • Architectural Woodwork Institute - This organization provides a
  • Preservation Trades Network - PTN is a non-profit membership organization founded to provide education, networking and outreach for the traditional building trades. PTN works with North American and international partners to provide educational resources, events and workshops that build opportunities for collaboration, and exchange of skills and knowledge.
  • Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. - ABC's mission is the advancement of the merit shop construction philosophy, which encourages open competition and a free enterprise approach that awards contracts based solely on merit, regardless of labor affiliation.
  • Preservation and Conservation Association - PACA non-profit organization aiming to foster and encourage the preservation and conservation of the natural and built environment.
  • Bricklayers Int’l. Masonry Institute - IMI representatives offer technical support, education and information about all masonry products, systems and performance.
  • Mason Contractors Association of America - The Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA) is the national trade association representing mason contractors. The MCAA is committed to preserving and promoting the masonry industry by providing continuing education, advocating fair codes and standards, fostering a safe work environment, recruiting future manpower, and marketing the benefits of masonry materials.
  • National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) - This mission of this organization is to build a safe, productive and sustainable workforce of craft professionals. Their vision is to be universally recognized by industry and government as the training, assessment, certification and career development standard for construction and maintenance craft professionals.
  • Operative Plasterers’ and Cement Masons’ International Association - The OPCMIA represents trained plasterers and cement masons for the purpose of protecting and promoting the quality of the industry and the livelihood of its members. If you’re looking for a career in a skilled trade with good wages and benefits and lifelong work in a fulfilling profession, you can earn as you learn to be a plasterer or cement mason through the OPCMIA International Training Fund’s Apprenticeship Program (ITF).
  • The Masonry Society - TMS is an educational, scientific, and technical society dedicated to the advancement of scientific, engineering, architectural, and construction knowledge of masonry. The Society is a non-profit.

Publications