A building should be documented prior to
any inventory, stabilization or investigative work in order to
record crucial material evidence. A simple, comprehensive method
is to take 35 mm photographs of every wall elevation (interior
and exterior), as well as general views, and typical and unusual
details. The systematic numbering of rooms, windows and doors
on the floor plan will help organize this task and also be useful
for labeling the photographs. Video coverage with annotated sound
may supplement still photographs. Additional methods of documentation
include written descriptions, sketches, and measured drawings.
Significant structures, such as individually
listed National Register properties or National Historic Landmarks,
benefit from professional photographic documentation and accurate
measured drawings. Professionals frequently use The Secretary
of the Interior's Standards and Guidelines for Architectural and
Engineering Documentation: HABS/HAER Standards.
It should be remembered that the documents created during investigation
might play an unforeseen role in future treatment and interpretation.
Documentation is particularly valuable when a feature will be
removed or altered.