We have all seen vacant houses and unused barns that are left to decay. First a hole develops in the roof, then the rain and snow get in, the frame slowly starts to sag, the windows fall out, and eventually (sometimes after many years), the structure collapses into a pile of rubble.

All building materials deteriorate over time and normal maintenance is required to prevent deterioration from reaching a critical point. Sometimes owners are not aware of the severity of the problem. They may not have the money to fix it or it may not be a priority to them. Some owners might even prefer a slow collapse under the mistaken impression that it’s cheaper than demolition.

Withholding or deferring minimum maintenance is sometimes called “demolition by neglect”—a loaded term that presumes to know the owner’s intention. In fact, situations may be more complicated than they appear. There can be different kinds of neglect.

In many cases, neglect occurs when owners do not have the money to maintain a property, do not understand the property’s maintenance needs, or simply don’t consider it a priority. Some owners have a vision that exceeds their means yet are unwilling even to sell the property to someone who can care for it properly.  

To learn more about the strategies to prevent demolition by neglect – and to learn the story of the William H. Mason House, pictured above – you can check out April 2019 newsletter.  Don’t get our newsletter? Become a member today