ARE Hotline: PA

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Hi Friends

For PA I have read several ways of defining Preservation, Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Restoration.

I was wondering if anyone have a very simplified definition of these concepts to understand them more clearly.

This is a question on this topic.

“A small gasoline station, built in the 1930s along Route 66 in Missouri, has been abandoned for 10 years. New owners have bought the property and want to fix it up so they can operate an automotive museum and small restaurant on the property. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The owners plan to apply for federal tax credits. According, to the definitions established by the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, which of the following treatments should be selected?”

Preservation, Rehabilitation, Restoration or Reconstruction?

What would the answer be and why if anyone can help.

Thank you


Hi @luisr, thanks for the question. First, I’d refer you to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards webpage. This page goes in-depth into the 4 approaches to treatment of historic properties and when to use them. As a quick summary, see definitions below:

  • Rehabilitation is the process of making possible a compatible use for a property through repair, alterations, and additions while preserving those portions or features which convey its historical, cultural, or architectural values.
  • Restoration involves accurately depicting the form, features, and character of a property as it appeared at a particular period of time by means of the removal of features from other periods in its history and reconstruction of missing features from the restoration period.
  • Reconstruction focuses on depicting (by means of new construction) the form, features, and detailing of a non-surviving site, landscape, building, structure, or object for the purpose of replicating its appearance at a specific period of time and in its historic location.
  • Preservation involves applying measures necessary to sustain the existing form, integrity, and materials of an historic property. Generally, this focuses upon the ongoing maintenance and repair of historic materials and features rather than extensive replacement and new construction.

Based on the scenario you put forth and the definitions above, I would recommend the client choose a Rehabilitation approach. This will allow the owner to preserve the historic nature of the gas station while adding other buildings to accommodate the program scope. Rehabilitation also provides a route to qualify for the ‘Historic Preservation Tax Incentives Program’ (even though it’s worded as preservation, it applies to rehabilitation).

The other options wouldn’t offer quite the right approach given the situation:

  • Restoration is used to ‘restore’ the building to its original form, which isn’t the goal of the owner. The question listed does not imply the gas station has been remodeled since the 30’s either, so we can’t be sure restoration is necessary.
  • Reconstruction isn’t quite the right fit because the building is still standing. This approach is used when the site/building haven’t survived over time.
  • Preservation wouldn’t be the right path either, as the owner wants to change the use of the existing building, not ‘freeze it in time’.

Thanks again for your question. It was really interesting to brush up on this information. Let me know if you have any follow up questions!


Hello there,

I have passed 3 NCARB exams thus far but it seems I am stuck on PA. There are a couple questions that stump me and I was hoping you could shed some light on how to tackle them.

The first is water savings- there is a question that shows up listing the cost of water by volume and values such as “HCF” that I am not familiar with. I also got several questions showing me core boring samples… do you have any good recommendations for resources on these?

Tips on construction phasing, and an explanation of the questions on radon mitigation would also be helpful (if you have any other recommendations for good resources)!

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You have taken the words and links out of my mouth. The Secretary of Interior’s Standards does a great job explaining the areas. I would also agree with your recommendation of rehabilitation. The reasoning you stated is valid and correct in my opinion.


Hello and good questions. PA has many ‘one-off’ type questions that are either you know or are gaps in your studies. You are doing a great job of being proactive in determining your own areas of knowledge gaps.

Water Savings: This is something that I had to review further as I personally have not come accross in practice. I fond some great information from the EPA website. HCF (hundreds of cubic feet) is a measurement of water used within a household.

Soil Borings: These are going to come from your geotechnical report. This report is given to the architect/engineer with data support recommendations for foundation designs based upon the soil and groundwater conditions. If you are currently practicing architecture within a firm environment, I recommend soliciting your peers to review examples.

Construction Phasing: Construction projects can be phased:

  1. By work category: Every part of a particular type of work is completed as part of one phase.
  2. By section: Dividing the project into different sections and completing them as separate projects.
  3. By partial completion: For example, the entire shell is built and the interior finished in separate phases.

Radon Mitigation: Radon reduction systems can be grouped by house foundation design. The geometry contributes to the mitigation technique. A good overview with images from the EPA is located here. I wouldn’t say you need to know the whole document, but understand the general situation, what and where Radon occurs, and some solutions that can been done.

Stay motivated!

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I have failed this exam 3 times already and I am retaking it on August 22. Every time on the exam I encountered a question that required me to calculate water savings- can someone please share a resource that explains how to do this? I would appreciate it!

  • Shabnam
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You’re in luck! We actually have a PA ARE Live this Thursday at 12pm CT. I will email you the registration link.

In the meantime lets see if @coachjakegroth can help with your question!

Yes I emailed the question to be covered on the mock exam, but the person who replied told me to post it here. I am registered for the mock exam as well.

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Awesome @SJAHANGIRI !!

One resource to review to understand overall typical numbers is from the EPA ( Within this link you can replaced fixtures with more efficient fixtures and see the savings. If you click on ‘How the WaterSense Calculator works’ you can see the calculation and there is an excel download.

Essentially the ARE question can be delivered multiple ways, but you will always need to compare the current water usage against the proposed (after the energy efficient fixture is in place). You can simple calculated water usage twice and compare the two answers for the net difference. One calculator is here (

Do not get discouraged on this tough exam, you have it in you! You look to be focusing on your weak points, which is a solid tactic needed to conquer your own study gaps for the exam. Good luck!

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Thanks for your reply, however there are no formulas shown in these online tools. One particular unit I saw on the test was HCF, which I am not familiar with. This particular link would be more helpful if it showed me how to compute the values. Perhaps its just basic arithmetic that will be easy once I familiarize myself with the topic…

Ok so, turns out it is not rocket science and it is simple arithmetic. I found that 748 gallons = 1 HCF, and HCF stands for “hundred cubic feet.” Seems like an odd way to measure water- but at least now I know that utility companies use this method to quantify water use and hopefully I won’t feel lost if I see it on the test again!


That’s great @SJAHANGIRI! I’m glad you were able to find some more information on your end before we could respond. Thank you for posting here so that others can also see.