Tips for Renovating Historic Homes
Beauty is in the eyes of the homeowner. When it comes to historic homes, a
"basic fixer-upper" to one homeowner is a true "work of art" to another. One
might be more interested in a fresh coat of paint, while the other considers
authentically restoring the entire home to its former glory. Whether it's
quick modernization or a major historic renovation, each approach demands
planning and consideration to make sure the historic importance and market
value of the home are protected.
Quick Renovation Tips
If you're bored with your historic home's appearance, and don't want to stick
to the original color scheme or materials, there are some basic ground rules
to follow. Your major concern is to avoid using materials or methods that,
when removed, might damage the original walls, floors or other features. The
main rule is if you can't reverse whatever your changing, then don't change
it in the first place. Why? Consider the bottom line at resale. The reason
to leave the original historic materials intact is economic-your home will
almost surely have a higher resale value with those interior finishes intact.
Here are the ground rules:
Don't slap on acoustical ceiling tiles, drywall or paneling with nails,
mastic or other methods that might damage paneling or plaster.
Don't paint over surfaces that aren't already painted, especially hardwood.
The same goes for brick, tile, metal, glass and concrete surfaces-treat them
Research your home and get to know what makes it unique in terms of
architecture, materials, and design. You'll enjoy your home more and know
how to preserve its value.
Major Historical Renovations
A hands-on restoration is a unique challenge that requires real dedication
and care. It's not for everyone. Before you take the plunge, consider the
demands on your time, money and sanity. And make sure you take advantage of
ways to reduce stress.
Protect Your Investment. First of all, be sure you're adequately insured for
the higher replacement costs of an historical home. Check with your home
insurance company about special programs for authentic or unusual homes, and
update your insurance as your renovation goes along.
Budge for Major Systems First. Assess heating, plumbing and electrical
first, since these are likely to be outdated and costly to replace. They
also make the home comfortable or totally inhabitable, depending on their
Bite Off Smaller Chunks. Plan to move room by room, instead of tearing up
the whole house, to make your job more manageable. It's better to enjoy the
satisfaction of completing one room, than to postpone your gratification and
prolong the entire process.
Explore Special Historic Renovation Programs. Is your house in a special
historic district? Guidelines might control your renovation plan or you
might have to get approval from a historic planning board. On the other
hand, the advantage of historic designation is there might be financial
assistance available from local, state or national organizations. Also, find
out if you qualify for a federal HUD Rehab loan (203k) that provides up to 97
percent of the cost to make the home habitable as part of the mortgage.