Many homeowners mistakenly believe they will get a greater return on home upgrades that bring their historic property into the 21st century.
While this is true to some degree, there are certain upgrades that downgrade a historic home’s value. Keep reading for more insight on the process and how to save yourself headaches and heartaches along the way.
Before you begin
Before you start hacking away at your home -- and potentially cause damage -- double check with your local building codes department to see if there are any specific rehabilitation or restoration standards that you must abide by. Once you have this information, contact a local home inspector to help you identify any potential issues with the structure. These two quick steps may prevent you from making a major (and costly) mistake. Finally, when you are ready to begin work, remove antiques and valuables. If you don’t have garage space, renting a climate-controlled self-storage unit is a way to keep your possessions safe. According to Sparefoot, Denver metro-area self-storage units typically cost around $83.32 per month.
Start with the practical
It’s time to prioritize your renovations. Avoid the temptation to go all-in with a kitchen or bathroom update. While these may enhance your enjoyment, failing to take care of major issues will only cost you more money down the road. USA Today recommends starting with the roof and windows, as these are your home’s protective barrier and will keep water damage at bay. If structural damage was found during your home inspection, this will take precedence over other renovations. After all, you don’t want to put new windows on a house that may fall.
Another practical aspect of any home-improvement endeavor is to consider your budget carefully. Leave yourself some wiggle room for repairs that may pop up during the deconstruction phase. For example, if you find your roof is damaged when replacing shingles, you will need to fix the underlying wood, which can add thousands to a project that already costs about $163.76 to $266.11 per 100 square feet in the greater Denver area. Keep a close eye out for tax credits, which may be available for historic homes, especially in small towns on the brink of revitalization.
Upgrade the HVAC, electrical, and plumbing before moving on to aesthetic modifications. Advances in heating and cooling technology have made efficient climate control possible even in homes where ductwork would not be feasible. While you have the walls stripped to bare bones, replace the insulation.
When it’s time to enhance appearance
One of the most important things you can do in renovating a historic home is to keep preservation at the forefront of your thoughts. Even when you find it necessary to replace big-ticket items, such as the bathtub, there are plenty of ways to preserve your home’s historic charm while providing yourself modern conveniences. This 106-year-old home in upstate New York was completely remodeled. Notice that the bathroom, although now bright, airy, and very different, pays homage to the home’s age with a period-style clawfoot tub. When it comes to decorative accents, such as windowsills, built-in bookcases, and decorative trim, these items should be cleaned and left in place, when possible. Amy Dorsch of Vivacious Victorian chronicles her multiyear 1902 Queen Anne Victorian home renovation in this post, which will give you some more insight on the process.
Restoring an historic home is much like preserving a valuable antique. It may not be shiny and new, but it’s unique and like no other -- and that’s rare in today’s world of cookie-cutter real estate. Don’t shy away from a tough project, but remember to start with the practical aspects.