26 Oct A Beginner’s Guide to Restoring a Historic Home
Buying a historic home is an exciting process, especially as you begin to plan future restoration projects. If this is your first time restoring or rehabilitating a property, you can follow a few guidelines and tips to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible.
Maintaining the historical significance of the exterior, interior and intricate details throughout the home may initially seem tricky. Luckily, you can easily incorporate the house’s original architectural designs while making it look like it hasn’t aged a day.
Take a look at the following historic home renovation rules and steps to start the process of restoring your house.
Restore vs. Rehabilitate
Before making plans for your historical home, consider two routes. Many homeowners choose between restoring or rehabilitating their houses. The main difference is the purpose of each project.
Restoring a Historic Home
Restoration projects focus on minimal changes to maintain the property without losing historical significance. The changes homeowners make typically revolve around ensuring the structure is safe, has no internal damage and can support several historical features for decades. If the previous owners changed the house’s appearance to resemble a modern-style property, restoration focuses on returning the home’s original internal and external look. You might fix old light fixtures or install antiques from your home’s original time period, for instance.
Restoration often needs to meet the guidelines of historic preservation. These historic home renovation rules can specify tiny details you need to implement in the house’s design, including paint colors, windowpanes and signs indicating the history.
Rehabilitating a Historic Home
Rehabilitation projects also consider the property’s historical significance while adding a modern twist to its aesthetic. If you plan to live in the house with your family and want to create a cozy atmosphere, rehabilitation plans allow you to add a few new features to the home that blend in with the traditional layout. Homeowners who choose the rehabilitation route respect the house’s original architecture and history while adding their own touches of personal aesthetics. For example, you might add modern light fixtures instead of classic ones.
Your renovation plans can depend on whether you want to restore or rehabilitate your home. Make sure to have a clear image and goal in mind for the final product before contacting a contractor team, electricians or plumbers.
Guide to Historic Home Renovations
A few general historic home renovation rules and guidelines can make it easier for you to give your house extra flair without minimizing its sentimental value. You can still maintain the architectural style while providing the interior with an extra splash of color or a few hints of your own aesthetic.
Take a look at the following guide to learn how to restore an old home properly.
Studying a Home’s History and Design
One of the most exciting aspects of historic preservation projects is learning about the home’s history and layout. Many homeowners are pleased to find blueprints of the house’s build that can reveal hidden passageways, cellars or other secret features inside.
You can typically find your house’s blueprints by visiting the local county clerk’s office or another local official. They can find any public records of the home’s construction. You may also find old census records that can help you discover who the previous owners were and if there is anyone still connected to the house who can give you more details about the home’s history.
Learning more about your home’s history can give you a few ideas on how to restore an old mansion or property in a way that honors the timeline of construction and previous owners. Ask your real estate agent if they have any updated records of these periods so you can get started on your renovation plans.
Taking a few days to study the home’s design can also inspire you to keep the same layout with minimal aesthetic changes if you are more interested in restoring the house. If you can’t find materials about your house, look into the period it was built in along with what historic homes are common in your region.
Adding Modern Upgrades and Deciding Which Historical Features to Keep
Before getting into the decorating part of historic preservation, make sure the house is stable and watertight to avoid further damage to the interior and exterior. Many contractors recommend starting restoration projects with the roof, windows and masonry so rain does not enter the house while you make other changes to the inside. Repairing the home’s wood exteriors is a great first step to ensure you can properly preserve the house without any additional costs down the road from water or wind damage.
Now, for the fun part. To make your home feel personalized to your aesthetic interest, start thinking of modern upgrades you want to add to the property. This step can take a little longer to plan if historic preservation is one of your top priorities. The easiest way to distinguish which areas of the house you want to keep is to search through public records to find stories of any interesting objects, rooms or focal points around the home. These records may indicate where previous owners preserved older features of the house or added new ones.
You can also take note of any original workmanship in the house, including:
- Floorboards or tiles
- Wood structures such as staircases, furniture and doorframes
- Delicate intricacies such as doorknobs, lighting fixtures and wall decor
- Unique interior and exterior wood architecture
As you walk throughout the house, you may find that the floors contain real hardwood or that the wallpaper holds significant value to the origins of the property. Take some time to search the home and write down any details you find fascinating and unique to the property’s history. You may be surprised by what you discover.
So, what can you upgrade without minimizing the home’s historical significance? While you walk around the property, also take note of any features that seem to be falling apart, rusted or damaged. It’s natural for old wallpaper and paint to chip after a few decades, so there’s no harm in adding modern colors to your home. The floors may also show signs of age with lifted tiles and wood panels. You can keep some parts of the floor if they are stable and install new vinyl or luxury flooring for the areas that contractors will need to remove.
A few simple modern upgrades you can make that still preserve the history of the house can include:
- Adding contemporary furnishings and appliances
- Painting a fresh coat of neutral, pastel or faded colors
- Refinishing cabinetry in the kitchen and bathrooms
- Adding modern art pieces
- Using decor that matches the interior color accents
Remember to make your modern upgrades as non-intrusive as possible if you’re trying to restore your home. Tearing up too many floorboards or removing too much of the history can impact the home’s historical significance in the community. If you’re unsure where to start and end modern upgrades, not to worry! Express these concerns with a trusted team of contractors who can offer advice on blending historical features with modern additions to keep the home stable and in tune with your aesthetic.
Fixing Electrical and Plumbing Issues
When restoring old Victorian homes or other historic properties, you will most likely encounter some electrical and plumbing issues during your renovation project. Although this can extend the length of your restoration timeline, these common problems can allow you to install modern lighting, wires and pipes to keep your home functioning and safe for several more decades.
Signs of electrical issues in the house include:
- Flickering or dim lightbulbs
- Frequently tripping breakers
- Short circuits in electrical appliances
- Warm or melted sockets and switches
- Dead outlets
- Lights burning out frequently
- Abnormal sounds and smells from outlets
Fixing electrical issues can start right at the source — the wires. During a restoration project, you can let your contractors know there is a chance of electrical problems in the house so they can find a professional electrician to install new wires throughout the walls. Outdated wires can easily cause these signs above, so make sure electrical issues are at the top of your to-do list so you can renovate the entire house properly.
Plumbing issues are also one of the most common historic home renovation problems. Pipes can rust and break with age, which can cause water damage and a faulty sewage system for sinks, toilets and showers.
Common signs of plumbing issues can include:
- Clogged drains and toilets
- Low water pressure
- No warm water
- Discolored water
- Leaking faucets and pipes
During your restoration plans, you can contact a professional plumber to look at the home’s pipes and water heater to ensure you can access a steady stream of warm water anywhere in the house.
Interior and Exterior Painting
A fresh coat of paint can make a huge difference in your home’s appearance. When restoring old Victorian homes, mansions or other types of property, you can choose colors and wallpaper for your interior that resemble the historical period of your home’s origin. You can do the same with the exterior.
If you are interested in restoring your house, your contractor team will be able to find paint colors or wallpaper samples that appear as close to the original wall shades in your home. As they paint or put wallpaper around the house, they can also repair and fill holes and drywall to create a smooth canvas to work with that you can admire after the project is complete.
For rehabilitation projects, you can choose modern colors for your walls, such as:
- Neutral colors: White, black, gray and beige create an open space where other features can stand out.
- Pastels: Light hues provide a more lively atmosphere to your home with a wide selection of colors you can choose from.
- Bold shades: Dark greens, blues, purples and oranges are elegant and timeless and easily highlight the house’s architectural style.
Depending on how many walls you need redone, this step can take a few hours up to a week. After the walls have a new splash of color, you can start gaining inspiration for other renovation ideas that make the house flourish.
Exterior paint projects can take a little longer, depending on the type of material surrounding your home. Many historical homes use brick, stone or wood for the exterior. A painter can also provide a fresh coat of color if you want. You can maintain the same color and materials as the original architectural style or add a few of the same neutral, pastel or bold colors to make the house stand out.
Financing the Restoration
Buying and restoring a historic home does take time and money to maintain. However, the final product significantly outweighs the journey. The interior and exterior will look gorgeous, and you can feel right at home knowing you have a few pieces of family memories along with incredible history inside your house.
How much it costs to restore a historic home depends on a few factors. The size of the house, the renovations you and your contractors decide on and the repairs or upgrades necessary can influence the budget you should have before starting your project.
A simple one-room renovation can cost a couple thousand dollars, so be prepared to spend at least a few thousand dollars to over a hundred grand on a total restoration project.
If you have already bought the house and have a larger project in mind for the restoration, you can discuss possible bundling or discount options with the contractors.
You can also take out a home renovation loan, also known as a fixer-upper loan. These deals with the bank count as a renovation mortgage and help you pay for the changes you plan to make to the house so you can increase its value. You may also have the opportunity to refinance the home at a lower rate, pulling the home’s equity and paying for the restorations out of pocket.
Choose the Right Contractors
The final step of our guide to restoring a historic house is the most important. Having the right team of historic home restoration contractors by your side as you restore or rehabilitate your historic house can make a huge difference. It’s essential to have professionals who can understand your concerns, desires and budget to satisfy you with the final results.
Luckily, Neighborhood Painting specializes in historic home renovation, so you can rest assured that you have a dedicated team to support your journey. We prioritize quality and satisfaction in every restoration project, from repairing walls to giving the interior and exterior a fresh coat of beautiful paint.
Experience with historic home restoration is key to ensuring your property looks beautiful and increases its life span. Neighborhood Painting has over 15 years of knowledge and application of careful planning and execution of preserving these historic properties that you can see for yourself!
Contact Neighborhood Painting for Historic Home Renovations in Kansas and Missouri
For a team that can make your visions come to life, trust Neighborhood Painting to help with your historic home restoration. We specialize in restoring old homes with special care and planning to maintain as much of the interior and exterior as possible. We’ve offered homeowners in Kansas and Missouri quality historic home renovations, and our results will leave you, your guests and your neighbors admiring the property for decades to come.
Our unique two-step process allows us to get to know your home from the inside out. We evaluate the interior and exterior to find the best repair methods for sidings and walls. You can also trust us to give your home the fresh coat of paint it needs to stand out and resemble its original design elements.
Contact us today to get started on your historic preservation project.
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