Instead of stating that "This house is a Gable Front Bungalow in...," just state "This Gable Front Bungalow is in..." A more direct structure to the sentence saves valuable space for information on the form.
The house type should be the same that you list in Section 21, unless there are mitigating circumstance such as major alterations that you will explain further in the text...but save those expositions for later in the section; keep to the basics first.
The condition you state should be the same that you list in Section 51. Please do not make the mistake that most people make - be sure to mentally separate the physical condition from the historical integrity. Although these aspects are both fruits, one is an apple and the other is an orange. Keeping them separate in your mind and on the form makes an understanding of the evolution of the building easier for you, and a later assessment of the building based only on the data you put on your form easier for someone else. Or you - the frustration you save may be your own.
Physical condition is the current state of repair or disrepair, versus the ability to covey a historical appearance with historical integrity. Even though your 1830 I House may have been resided, the windows replaced, a large addition built, the foundation replaced, the chimneys removed and the roof reshingled, if the vinyl is sparkling, the windows unbroken, the addition crisp and clean, the cinder blocks uncracked, and the roof smooth and perfect, then it is in excellent condition even if no material older than 1984 is visible.
However, a building that has received no alteration since 1941, never had electricity or running water in it (except static cling and children running with buckets), still has wood shingles on the roof, and cylinder-glass 6/6 windows that leak like a sieve, is still in poor condition if the roof is half gone and woodchucks live in the basement, raccoons in the dining room and squirrels in the loft.
Often, well-kept buildings that are in excellent condition have lost most of their integrity, and vacant or abandoned buildings in poor condition are transparently historical. Transparently being that you can see the framing where weatherbords have been ripped off, old roofing where the wind has struck, and interior alterations where the plaster has fallen. Vacant and abandoned buildings are quite invaluable for analysis of architecture undisturbed, obscured or obliterated by updating.
I prefer to summarize the alterations that a building has received so a reviewer can get a good idea of the building at first glance. All too often I have read forms that note all the neat historical features of a building and then am disappointed after looking at the photos of neutered white-clad boxes.
Don't go into too much detail at first - just summarize: "The Fourquare is in good condition with residing, replacement windows, and large addition." And please don't state "replacement siding" in lieu of "residing" unless you know that the earlier siding was actually removed and then replaced with the current siding. Most vinyl, aluminum, and asphalt and asbestos shingles were just nailed over the old stuff. And anymore, thin foamboard insulation is put up first, perhaps making future removal easier. Residing usually implies loss of all or most ornament, which you can explain later, if you know what was lost or where it is stored
If a building has avoided most modern entanglements and is more original than altered, than that is well-worth stating, especially if it is entirely unaltered.
Additions are alterations, too. If there are several small additions around the building, just state "several small aditions" and go into detail later. Most additions and alterations happen at one time, so think of them as one or more layers of alteration applied onto the building at a certain point in its evolution. See through them to the core, the original building.
Keep in mind that, per NRHP guidelines, integrity is an either/or issue. Either a building has integrity or it has lost it. Technically there's no such thing as "partial integrity," though it is a useful concept - someone just needs to create an acceptable term for it. I prefer use "intactness" and rate it as a gradient - none, some, average, above-average, exceptional intactness. Perhaps a rating system based on physical condition and intactness could be used as a guide for determining integrity on a pass-fail basis.
Too often surveyors never explain the rationale for their dating (that is, assigning of a date to a building). Usually it's self-apparent, but it's a good idea to state clearly why you thought a certain date or date range was accurate. It makes it harder for reviewers to give you grief later on.
I prefer to use the word "indicated" because it implies that you intentionally observed something that provided you with information, instead of using just intuition, or guessing based on a vague impression. Not that vague impressions are bad; but try to work from more than that if possible. Trust your instincts, but verify with the available facts.
You don't have to state the exact indicators; just state their class, and let the following description clue the reader as to which suggest the date.
Some of these may seem to overlap, but there are reasons for that:
House types have lifespans, and were utilized in distinct periods, much like styles. They appeared in print at a certain date (e.g. Gabled Ell) or were already present in the building vocabulary brought by settlers (e.g. I House); they grew in popularity; they were eclipsed by other types; they fell out of use.
But beware regional variation - one area may have had Tee-Plan brick houses popular as early as 1845, while another was still building I Houses through the 1910s. Get a good overview of the area you are working in before you start assuming your book knowledge is entirely accurate for the area. Feel the architectural gestalt, and work with it.
Certain materials were popular at different time, and many materials went through an evolution that allows temporal serration. For example, early pioneer-era brick was typically soft, crude, irregular, impure and short-lived because of the imperfection of the material and temporary state of the building. Of course, there are always exceptions, and usually those have survived because one or a few people took more time than they should have to do more than a makeshift job, and theirs are the buildings that have survived. These rare survivors either make people think that everything was that good then; or the survivors are ignored because they donıt fit into the established system; or they are properly acknowledged as exceptions and understood as an uncommon tools to learn from.
Continuing on the brick tangent, the pioner brick rarely survives; settlement-era and later brick is more the typical, porous type - "common brick" as I am wont to call it. Pressed brick, hard, heavy and ceramic-looking, became widely available around the turn-of-the-twentieth century, and rapidly supplanted the common brick. But still, common brick was used through the 1940s, though usually for interor walls meant to be covered over, cheap buildings, and in poor areas. But then the pseudo-Williamsburg brick became popular - much resembling the pioneer brick with the varied firing state and irregular surface. And now machine made, perfectly pressed modern common brick - at least common in appearence and texture - is popular. Beware revivals, where old materials are popular again. Most revivals are easily detectable, but not all.
Treatment and manufacture/preparation of materials also went through an evolution. Stone may have been first used as very irregular freestone in crude mortar; then small rocky blocks pried off a surface exposure; then fully quarried but rough-surfaced blocks; then smooth quarried blocks with a hairline of mortar; then smoother saw-cut blocks.
Wood is also datable by the evolution of the technology and availability of the technology used to make it usable. Pioneer log cabins were essentially trees stacked up and barely modified to make them interlock, with mud and wood chips pressed in the spaces that were not to be used as windows. Settlement log houses were built of logs much modified by axe, broadaxe, adze, and even saw. The logs were hewn square, notches cut, and ends hand saw-cut square, as well as windows and doors cut and framed. Large pieces and quantities of sawn wood began to be available with a pit saw, where manual labor left irregular, slanted, up-and-down saw marks. Water-powered millsaws worked the same way, but left even, perpendicular up-and-down saw marks. Water and steam-powered, and later elecrtrically powered circular saws left radial saw marks. But now, saws using a flexible, high-speed continuous loop blade leave fine up-and-down saw marks. Beware modern technology reviving old ideas in new ways.
Elements of style - if there is not enough to indicate a full-fledged style, there still may be some elements tucked into corners (like porch posts and front doors) that will still give a stylistic date range.
Not quite the same as house type; more the variations possible on house types, such as floorplans or facade arrangements, but can indicate a more specific date than the overall house type.
In other words, it's recorded by oral history.
Trust oral history, but not too much. People tend to round off ages to fifty years, so if you know the place wasn't settled until 1820 and the owner states the house is 200 years old, keep a grain of salt with it. Maybe the house is the oldest survivor in the area and is 180 years old; maybe heıs full of it and it dates to 1924. Trust your instincts and look to see what is written.
It's a good idea to ask people how they know the date of a building, but itıs best done tactfully. My preferred method is to ask "How did you learn that?" Itıs not implicitly challenging, and it doesn't imply that you are an intellectual snob who knows more about a bulding than the person who has lived there all his/her life. Perhaps you can see much that they donıt, but you should respect their knowledge and find out how they acquired it. And perhaps there is something you canıt see at first - that there is a 1798 log house within the 1978 ranch before you.
Oral history is how most history was preserved. Even some of the Biblical "gospels" may have been maintained by word-of-mouth several generations before they were written down. Although our generationıs sense of recall is not to great, it was honed better in previous generations. The "Three Rıs" were reading, riting and rote - i.e., memorization and recall. Lore that is seven genrations old may be only a few words different from its original telling. ...Or it may not. Again, caveat emptor.
In other words, itıs written in stone. Ya canıt question that.
Unless you want to get picky...It depends on where the datestone is located on a building. A cornerstone would be laid near the start of construction, while a gable datestone would be near the end. And depending on the size and complexity of the building, there may be more than a yearıs difference.
Date plates, e.g., a wooden sign attatched to a building, is more likely to have been added or altered, especially if it is painted. But these are usually not altered, and are faily reliable. They area also vulnerable.
In other words, it's written in a book.
North, south, east, west; northeast, northwest, southeast, southwest. Donıt get picky about north-northwest or south-southeast unless it's really critical.
If the front of the house faces some direction other than the main access, this is significant. What changed to make it that way?
Not necessarily the most commonly used door; anymore, that is the back door, because most people park their cars in the back.
If a corresponding arc loc is not indicated, don't just omit it. It's significant that it is not indicated. But if your date does not agree with the lack of an indicator on a map, you'd better justify it in the text, because somone is wrong - you or the map.
Try to show at least two road intersections or significant geographical features to help triangulate the position of the arc loc for the unfamilliar. Indicate nearby arc locs, and circle or draw a short arrow to the arc loc you are inventorying. Showing neighboring arc loc is useful for relocating. If your arc loc is on a on a city block, note which number house it is from the nearest street intersection, especially if address numbers are hard to come by. If your site is out in the country, noting the nearby arc loc and streams can help locate it.
Label all roads; is space is tight, don't worry about the "Street" or "Road" or whatever suffix. Note the most standard name for a road, if it has both a name and route number. Is it "High Street" or "U.S. Route 23"? Put down both in the address (Section 6) but use the best in the limited space here in Section 8.
It is also polite to indicate nearby towns, especially if you mention one in the vicinity (Section 7).
And add a north arrow! Pointing the right direction! Aargh!
A scale is also good to include, but surprisingly not too important.
Better yet than a drawn map is a copy of the part of the topo contered on the arc loc. If left in the original scale, you don't need to add the scale. The topo should be referenced in Section 9, so that information is also not needed in Section 8.
Annotated Selected Sources
Any references or attributions to "kbc" = the author, Kevin B. Coleman, of Columbus, Ohio, USA.
"Inv&Nom-OHI.html" v1.1.1 - 7/23/02
Intrepid Historical Services - Kevin B. Coleman - Columbus, Ohio, USA
(Adapted 7/9/02 from "G_OHI Form Writing" entitled "Sytematizing Descriptions on the Ohio Historic Inventory Form"
First Draft - v 2.1 7/9/02 - Previous Draft: Sunday June 30, 2002)