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How to Properly Restore a Historic Home

Written by Kelly Weimert on Friday, June 14th, 2019 at 4:06am.

Source: greavesconstruction.com

If you’re lucky enough to live in a historic home, then you already know that they possess a unique charm that only comes with a history of standing strong. However, one of the drawbacks of longstanding homes is that they often need to be repaired and restored to ensure they continue to hold strong for years to come.

Restoring a historic home involves a lot of important considerations around materials, techniques, and structural integrity. Plus, there are aesthetic factors to consider, like how to ensure the home looks polished and cared-for without sacrificing its historic charm.

If you’re looking to restore a historic home but aren’t sure where to start, then let the following tips guide your way.

Start With a Vision

Before beginning the restoration process, you should have a clear sense of your goals and vision for the home. Take some time to inspect the home and all of its rooms, considering what elements you’d like to keep, which ones you’d like to enhance, and those that you’d like to get rid of.

Pay Mind to the Rules

Some historic homes are located in historic districts that have their own regulations with respect to what alterations can be made to a home. Be sure to check with your district to ensure you won’t be fined for any restoration projects. Usually, these rules only regulate the home’s exterior, so you probably don’t need to worry about it if you’re only planning to make interior changes.

Recruit the Right Team

Restoring a historic home takes specialized knowledge and skill that not all contractors have, so do your research before you hire anyone to help you. You can speak with other historic homeowners and sites in your area as well as reach out to the jurisdiction you’re in—many jurisdictions keep a list of contractors who have worked on local historic properties.

Consider Your Materials

At first thought, you might want to use all of the original materials of the home, but oftentimes, modern materials can look and feel the same while providing a much stronger and safer foundation. You can also mix and match elements, using strong, modern materials behind the scenes and opting for original materials on the front-facing elements of your home.

Pay Mind to Your Budget

Even if you plan to live in your home forever, you never know what the future holds, so you should consider the potential resale value when writing up a budget. Spend some time researching what fully renovated homes in your area sell for and set your budget accordingly. The last thing you want to do is lose all of the money on your restoration investment if you have to unexpectedly move.

Start With Bones

It’s tempting to get right to the aesthetics during a restoration project, but the bones of your home—such as the windows, roof, and masonry—are what determine its strength and longevity, so start there. Take care to ensure the home is watertight, has strong structural integrity, and has modern mortar around the fireplaces and chimneys before moving on to aesthetics.

Don’t be Afraid to Update the HVAC System

A lot of historic homeowners think they’re stuck with an ancient HVAC system, fearing that swapping it out will destroy the historic elements of the home they love. But modern technology has made it so that you can create a split HVAC system that allows you to adequately heat and cool your home without sacrificing the period details that you love so much.

Let Go of Perfectionism

Historic homes often feature quirks, like uneven floors and unusual layouts. Rather than spending buckets of money fixing every little flaw, embrace those flaws for the unique charm and character they bring. Historic homes may not have the pristinely polished appearance of contemporary houses, but that’s part of what makes them so unique and compelling.

If you love historic homes and architecture as much as we do, try checking out our innovative Search With Style® tool, where you can search all homes for sale by their architectural style.


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