Historic Home Remodeling – Preserving Fine Craftsmanship

The reason people covet antique furniture or classic cars is because, for lack of a better way to put it, “once they’re gone they’re gone.” The only way to make new antiques is to…wait. That same kind of premise also pertains to historic homes.

The thing about homes is that you need to fix them up from time to time whether out of necessity, to improve quality of living, or increase energy efficiency. Therein the homeowner comes to a slippery slope – how do you remodel a historic home but maintain its rustic charm?

In some communities, maintaining a home’s historic look isn’t a choice – it’s an ordinance. There are ways to renovate but also preserve, and here are some examples.

Is Your Home Historic?

A historic home can be a property or it can be a region. What that basically means is that even if a house in the middle of a historic district burns down, you can’t just build a modern steel structure smack dab in the middle of a 100 year old neighborhood.

For a home to be considered historic, it needs to be architecturally significant. This means the home already has a certain style from yesteryear that needs to be kept in tact for as long as possible. Properties get designated historic so that they are preserved by the homeowner, and remodels usually need to go through some sort of advisory board to get passed.

Can I Remodel My Specific Property?

When dealing with city administrators, they mostly only care that the exterior of your home maintains a consistent historic look. If you want to build a juice bar and a discotheque in your living room that’s usually OK as long as the outside of the property has the colonial, Victorian, etc. aesthetic.

You also more than likely can’t add on to the existing property if you own a historic home. There are some exceptions such as building a carriage guest house which makes the land appear as it did decades ago, but for the most part you’re stuck with your current square footage.

Most building codes will also require you to keep the current look intact. You may want to select a brand like Adorned Opening’s wood composite shutters to craft exterior window features that match the current style.

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Historic Home Renovation Ideas

It’s often not a choice for renovating, but a necessity. Consider these instances of common projects and how they relate to older homes:

  • Painting – No city administrator is going to deny you the chance to paint your home, but they will most definitely restrict your colors. Calm, neutral, shades are almost mandatory.
  • Windows – Unfortunately windows and their associated trim, casing, shutters, etc. are what give a lot of the exterior of your home it’s flair. At the same time, windows in a historic home are frequently single-paned energy drains. A quality contractor can remove the old trim, install new windows or winterize windows and reattach the historic molding but the process can also be costly.
  • Porches, Columns, Decks – In many cases you’re not going to be able to find replacement components for your historic home at big box stores. Intricate spindle or railing designs will need to be recreated by custom woodwork companies 
  • Garage Doors – You can change the whole look of a home just by replacing the garage door, and thus you often need to keep the appearance as is on a historic property. Don’t sweat the cost to replace a garage door as the installation of custom garage doors consistently provides some of the best ROI in the Cost vs. Value Report.
  • Roofs – Homeowners are locked in to replacing the roof of a historic home with what is currently installed. That means if you have asphalt shingles, a metal roof isn’t an option even though it would be more energy efficient. More and more zoning boards are allowing alternatives such as steel panels that look like cedar shakes however.

Keeping historic homes looking similar to their styles from the past shouldn’t be looked at as a restriction, in fact it’s an honor to have your home considered elegant enough that people want to enjoy it and appreciate it in the current form and for years to come.

Let us bring your historic home back to life. Contact our professionals today to talk about your project.

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