March 20, 2019

7 Things to Know Before Renovating a Historic Home

Renovating an old, historic home can be extremely rewarding. But navigating the ins and outs of historic home renovation isn't easy. Here are 7 things to know before renovating an historic home.

Rather than wishing for a typical dream home, you may have your heart set on scooping up a historic home and bringing it into the modern era. Murray Lampert Design, Build, Remodel wants you to get the most out of your historic home renovation. We’ve compiled a list of seven things you should know as you’re planning your major renovation.

1. Check the House Listing With the National Register of Historic Places

It’s easier to beg for forgiveness than ask permission, right? The same won’t fly when you’re looking to remodel a historic home. Before doing anything, check to see if the house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The register is a list of houses the U.S. government wants to remain historically accurate. While you probably don’t want to buy a historic home for the purpose of making wild and extravagant renovations to it, it’s best to see what changes are on the table and which aren’t.

2. Get a Full Picture of What You’re Getting

Maybe you haven’t yet bought the home and are just toying around with remodeling ideas. If so, work with real estate professionals who have experience with historic homes. Ask them what problem areas the home has. Some of the most common include electrical and plumbing. The property could also have drafts. Get several quotes from different contractors for a solid idea of how much you can expect to pay to fix the home up. Additionally, inquire about occasional future upkeep and how much that’s likely to cost you down the line.

3. Focus on Plumbing, Heating, Electrical and Insulation

You’re likely going to have to update four specific parts to address in your historic home:

  • Plumbing
  • Heating
  • Electrical
  • Insulation

Depending on the age of the home, there may be undesirable materials in the plumbing system, such as rust mineral deposits. The property’s current heating system, while fully functional, may drive you into bankruptcy every month with a high energy bill. The electrical system isn’t likely to be up to today’s code. As for the insulation, there’s bound to be plenty of air leaks in the home that need to be patched up.

4. Add Plenty of Unexpected Costs Into Your Remodeling Budget

While you want to budget for more than you think you’ll need with any home remodeling project, that goes double, maybe even triple, for a historic home renovation. This is because when you start updating the plumbing or wiring system, you may find something inside the walls that sets you back two steps – or $2,000. By anticipating such problems, you’re ready to deal with them without worrying about cutting corners or putting the job off.

5. Keep Maintenance in Mind With the Exterior

As you’re deciding what to do with the historical home’s exterior, be sure you think down the road about maintenance. Just like with a modern home, the weather can erode a historical home’s exterior. Explore your options for materials that have the same look and feel as the home’s original exterior but can better withstand the elements. For instance, cellular PVC is made of plastic, but it looks and feels like wood. Be sure to ask home renovators for options that will keep the overall aesthetic of the home’s exterior intact.

6. Keep Character in Mind

Before changing anything about a historic home, walk through it to get a feel for its character, its vibe. Do some research into when the home was built, if it was built for a specific purpose and how it looked when it was first built. The reason you’re interested in the home in the first place is likely because of the character imbued in its walls. As you’re planning renovations, do what you can to keep that character intact. Think of your remodel as an upgrade rather than as wiping the board clean and starting all over. Doing so is sure to feel more satisfying.

7. Get a Thorough Home Inspection

When you buy a home, no matter the age or type, you want to buy it, remodel it and live in it with confidence. A complete home inspection gives you that peace of mind, because you know you’re aware of all the property’s problem areas. Things such as wood rot, mold, radon and lead are common in older homes, so be sure the home inspector checks for them in every corner, nook and cranny.

No matter the age of your home, Murray Lampert Design, Build, Remodel is here to help bring out its best. Reach out for help with renovating your historic property.

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