Carpentry Repairs for your older historic home in Lancaster Pa

In Brookline's Millwork Division, we take on projects that allow us to reproduce the original profiles and assembly techniques. We believe that an investment in preservation means using materials that will resist the weather in exterior applications such as porch and window repairs. That is why we always use Spanish cedar, Mahogany, or other rot-resistant woods as the raw material for matching and repairing old doors, windows, and other exterior trim parts. Even though this is usually a change from the original material, it represents an improvement that protects your investment, while remaining congruent with the original look and feel of the building. Old growth Pine and Fir would be more original but they are very difficult to find and new growth Pine and Fir will not hold up for more than a few years before rotting if used in exterior applications such as old window sill replacements, window repairs and porch repairs in Lancaster Pa.

Matching old porch floor profile is an example of a specialty Brookline offers. Old porch floor boards are often not commercially available and will need to be custom made. Contact us today for all carpentry needs.

McMillian House Summary Report

The McMillian House is located within the boundries of Gettysburg National Park. It was constructed in two separate phases with the original home being built in 1840  1841 and the addition being built in the 1890's It is within the area where the Battle of Gettysburg was held yet is privately owned.


A Flexible Project Design Philosophy

A Flexible Project Design Philosophy

When Brookline begins a project, we consider the building as the primary client. This is an essential approach for the contractor and the owner of the building to agree on. We consider ourselves to be co-stewards with you of your historic landmark, and we want to move forward with care and with the needs of the building forefront in our project planning.

A typical construction project design process begins with the owner's needs. The owner's needs are then translated into a concept, a design and plans, and then into the low-bid process. It is a straightforward timeline of events.

When the typical design process is used on historic buildings, the building always suffers. Here is why: Unknowns are inherent in any conservation project. Decisions about treatments are made too early, before adequate discovery is done. Contractors submit prices designed to get the job, expecting to make money on the change orders. Realistic pricing that accounts for unknowns is not put forward at the beginning of the project. Right from the beginning, the contractor and owner are in an adversarial relationship. When new conditions are discovered mid-project, the contractor submits change orders, which throw the budget and the schedule out the window. Inevitably, decisions are made to cut the building to fit the budget, the schedule, and the owner's needs.

Truly Authentic Historic Preservation begins with a project design that is evolutionary, not uni-directional, as in the above "typical design process." This means that the project is considered and planned in phases, with milestones and goals decided in advance for each phase. Each phase must begin with adequate discovery and testing, so that realistic information and pricing can be gathered. All members of the project design team must be prepared at any time to stop work and reevaluate if an unexpected condition is encountered.

Brookline knows that budgets are not unlimited, and that a scope of work is needed in order to proceed intelligently. We are seeking relationships with individuals and organizations where the needs of the building can be addressed adequately. Pricing a historic project is impossible to do all at the beginning. Once full discovery is completed, project estimates can be built that provide a loose framework for the phase of work. Dealing with "unforeseens" means communicating openly about what is discovered mid-project, and then adjusting to meet the needs of the building and the owner. Our proposal allows flexibility to make changes in the treatments required, potentially saving money, and certainly reducing stress, confusion, and unnecessary changes to schedules and budgets.

Contact us today for all your Historic Preservation and Restorations on your old and historic home.

Our Commitment to Authentic Building Preservation

Our Commitment to Authentic Building Preservation

Brookline has a track record and a reputation for historic preservation that is truly authentic. We believe deeply that using the original materials is the only way to complete work on historic structures. We are committed to doing what is best for the building in terms of longevity, as well as preserving the original look and feel, where possible. We hire only very skilled craftspeople to execute the projects that Brookline undertakes. We offer conservation services, including lead testing, mortar analysis, structural discovery, and whole Building Evaluation Reports (BER's).

Where masonry is concerned, a commitment to original materials is especially crucial. Natural lime mortar is vapor permeable, allowing moisture to escape quickly from masonry walls. This eliminates moisture problems for framing, trim, and the other wood elements in a building. Repointing and repairs will always be executed using natural lime mortar. Portland cement destroys old buildings by breaking masonry units, We also go to lengths to use original brick, stone, and mortar aggregates/additives, wherever the customer will support the extra effort required. We offer mortar analysis to isolate the color and size of aggregates, and any other additives used (such as animal hair, oyster shells, pigments, etc.)

In Brookline's Millwork Division, we take on projects that allow us to reproduce the original profiles and assembly techniques. We believe that an investment in preservation means using materials that will resist the weather in exterior applications. That is why we always use cedar, mahogany, or other rot-resistant woods as the raw material for doors, windows, and other exterior parts. Even though this is usually a change from the original material, it represents an improvement that protects your investment, while remaining congruent with the original look and feel of the building.

Historic Preservation and Brookline Builders

Historic Preservation and Brookline Builders

Brookline Builders, Inc. has a concern for the preservation of historic buildings within our larger community. We have spent considerable time and resources developing expertise in repairing structures using original materials, and we offer this expertise to those who have been entrusted with the care of our area's important historic landmarks.

Brookline has skilled technicians in slate and copper roofing, woodworking, and historic brick and stone masonry. We keep this work "in house" so that we can closely monitor the quality of work of craftsman with whom we have long-term relationships.

We keep new and used slate in stock, and we have our own slate supplier--one of the best quarries in Vermont. Our own roofing department does the installation work.

We understand the old mortars and the dangers of modern mortar for historic structures.

We have a fully-equipped modern woodshop where we can reproduce any molding, cabinet, window or door that we find in need of replacement.

Brookline Builders, Inc. is the area's most capable preservation and restoration contractor. We take pride in our work safety track record, and keeping a clean and orderly jobsite during all phases of construction and repair.


Contact Jonathan Owens owner of Brookline Builders, Inc for your next home restoration project. Brookline Builders is a Lancaster Pa contractor since 1990. We will complete your restoration with your plans, our plans or help you design from scratch. Designing your restoration project can be a challenge with the many decisions that need to be made all while on a tight schedule, don't let building a new home stress you out. Hire Brookline and allow their website tools to take the stress out of scheduling and communication during your preservation. Our website offers tools that allow our customers to check the construction schedule day or night. It will alert you the customer to changes in the schedule. Such changes as weather and delay of materials. It will alert Brookline's subcontractors to changes of schedule whether the changes be delays or communicating advances in the schedule. The website puts the construction schedule of your preservation project at your finger tips even if you are on vacation. It will allow you the customer to log on and post your product selections such as paint colors and flooring selections. This allows Brookline's subcontractors to log on and view the selections that you the customer has made. This setup minimizes mistakes and miscommunications. The website will alert you the customer to deadlines for product selections and ordering deadlines so you won't be responsible for the delay of your own new home. Brookline Builders strives to be the best historic preservation and restoration contractor in the Lancaster, Lebanon, Harrisburg, Adams, York, Berks, Chester and surrounding counties. Call Brookline Builders of Lancaster, Pa for a consultation of your historic Preservation - Restoration project and we will show you a new approach that could possibly save your old home or building.

Contact us today!


Re-roofing with imitation slate in Lancaster Pa, is a less expensive option for a roof that looks like real slate and is acceptable in most every city for use in historic districts. Imitation slate also weighs less than real slate, which is a benefit for older homes with questionable roof structures. There are basically two companies that manufacture imitation slate, and both come with good warranties when installed by a certified installer. There is Eco-Star Majestic Slate by Carlisle and the Lamarite Slate Composite Shingles by Tamko. It is a personal choice as to which brand to install as both have very good warranties as well as similar characteristics.

Both brands come in various options such as color, width and style. If your home is a Victorian Style then perhaps the beveled, beaver tail or chiseled point from Eco-Star will your best choice. Keep in mind though, that whether you pick real slate or imitation slate, the snow will slide off fairly easily, so you should spend the money for the correct snow guards or come winter someone could get hurt. If you ever need to get onto your real slate roof you must be careful because of breakage, with composite or imitation slate there is no need to worry about breaking them, as they are unbreakable!

Which ever brand you wish to be installed on your home, make certain the installer follows closely to the manufactures installation instructions and you will have a roof that will last and look great for many years.

Preparation for Repointing Brick or Stone

How to Remove Mortar Before Repointing

The biggest challenge in restoring masonry walls and buildings is replacing Portland-cement-based mortars with a natural lime mortar. The difference between the two is easy to determine. Using a pointing chisel to remove lime mortar is quite easy; the mortar is soft and breaks easily in front ofthe chisel. Portland-based mortars are quite hard, and hand-chiseling takes many blows from the hammer to remove just a couple inches of joint.

This hard mortar is very damaging for brick and soft stone. One reason they are so damaging is that Portland-based mortars (Type N, Type S, and most mortars available today) are not water permeable, so they do not allow moisture to escape from the wall. Also, Portland-based mortar is not flexible, but brittle, so the masonry units are stressed by freezing temperatures and imperceptible building movements. This can take the faces of brick right off of buildings that should be preserved and protected. Natural lime mortar will wick moisture away, and flex with the small movements of temperature changes and settling that occurs in every building over time.

To remove Portland-based mortars efficiently, a grinder should be used to cut a groove in the center of the joint. Usually a thin blade works better than a thick one, and a 4" blade will cut through the Portland-based pointing back to the original lime-based mortar. Cutting the center of the mortar joints prevents slipups from damaging the original brick or stone. Special care should be taken on head (vertical) joints to cut only as deep as the grinder can without cutting into the masonry units. This can take strength and focused attention because the grinder is harder to control when removing very hard material. Center-cutting the joints relieves the pressure that the hard mortar puts on the faces of brick and stone.

The second step is to hand chisel the joints out. Usually the best method is to place a flat chisel right where the mortar meets the edge of the brick or stone, aiming toward the center groove that was cut with the grinder. A pointing chisel can also be used to go across. Pick a 2"or 3" section of joint and aim the pointing chisel toward the area that has already been removed. The chisels will break the bond between the Portland-based mortar and the brick or stone.

Usually the repointed joints are less than an inch deep, so removal is safe as long as care is taken with the faces of the masonry units. Remove mortar at least 2x the height of the joint. A 3/8"-wide joint should be chiseled back to at least 3/4". This will ensure an adequate bond between the new mortar and the brick or stone.

Once the mortar is removed, the joints should be vacuumed, or blown out with compressed air. A low pressure jet of water, such as from a nozzle on a garden hose, can also be used. If the joints are vacuumed or blown out, it is a good idea to dampen the wall before applying the new mortar.

Never use a pressure washer on soft brick or stone. High-pressure water can damage walls of even hard stone (like granite), so the nozzle should be kept well back from the face of the stone. Pressure washers often remove the beauty of the weathered faces of stone, including the green moss that can make a building look old.

What we do in Lancaster Pa

What we do in Lancaster Pa

Brookline Builders in Lancaster and all of southeastern Pa is committed to completing historic restoration the right way. Below is a list of just a few specialties that make us stand out from the crowd.

  • We are committed to using only lime mortar in our masonry repairs, no portland.
  • we are committed to not using new growth pine or fir in our wood repairs.
  • We are committed to not using any vinyl.
  • We are committed to recycling original architectural components.
  • We are committed to helping you save and insulate your existing old windows, not replacing them with vinyl.
  • We are committed to keeping as much of the original style of your structure.
  • We are committed to modernizing without sacrificing the character of your home.
  • We are committed to repairing your old original floor not simply replacing it.
  • we are committed to replacing only the wood that is rotten, not the entire piece.
  • We are committed to helping you stay in your budget.
  • We are committed to historic restoration and adaptive reuse.
  • We are committed to repairing your roof before just replacing the whole thing.
  • We are committed to not disturbing or destroying archeological artifacts that may be on your property.
  • We are committed exceeding the expectations of our customers.

Imitation Cedar Shakes -- Lancaster, PA

Imitation Cedar Shakes -- Lancaster, PA

For complete installation of imitation cedar shakes, contact Brookline Builders. Although real cedar shakes are beautiful, they don't last as long as imitation cedar.

Imitation cedar shakes are made out of a composite material and offered by several companies, DaVinci, and Tamko's Lamarite Shake, Enviroshake and Carlisle.

Imitation cedar shakes can be installed in a random pattern or in traditional styles.

Contact Brookline Builders for all your composite or imitation cedar shake installation needs.

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