A Quick Guide to Historic Renovation Do’s and Don’ts


Renovating historic homes is tricky as there are a lot of factors to consider when doing so. To mitigate some of the risks, we’ve prepared some dos and don’ts to keep in mind.

Do Research The Home’s History

When diving into a historic home renovation, starting with research is essential. So, begin by exploring your home’s past. Uncovering its original design can provide invaluable insight into your historic renovation. Some resources, such as local archives or neighborhood associations, might hold old photos or blueprints which can reveal the original room design or which elements are original.

Furthermore, by understanding its historic significance, you can make informed decisions during renovation! That might include preserving unique architectural features or restoring original color schemes. Additionally, knowing the home’s history might introduce you to interesting stories or past inhabitants. These tales can add depth and personal connection to your project. Researching your home’s history isn’t just about bricks and mortar. It’s about respecting its legacy while paving the way for its future.

Don’t Ignore Structural Issues

Historic homes are charming, full of character, and have stories etched into their walls. However, their age can oftentimes mean hidden structural issues. It’s tempting to overlook these problems, especially when excited about aesthetic changes. Yet, this can be a grave mistake. Compromised foundations, outdated electrical systems, or worn-out roofing are not just about appearances. They are a safety concer which can lead to more extensive damage and higher costs. However, note that there are some renovations you can do and some you can’t, and structural issues belongs to the latter! So, prioritize a professional inspection early in your renovation process. They’ll pinpoint areas that need immediate attention. Maintaining a home’s charm is essential, but ensuring it stands strong for generations to come is equally vital.

Do Maintain The Home’s Original Character

The home’s character is its essence when dicing into a historic renovation. These homes hold a distinctive charm, often shaped by unique architectural details. From ornate trims to classic door knobs, every element tells a story. So, it’s crucial to respect and preserve these features. By doing so, you honor the home’s history and enhance its value. While it’s tempting to introduce modern trends, it’s wise to tread carefully. Think of restoration rather than replacement! For instance, consider cleaning or repairing old tiles instead of swapping them out. Sometimes, the simplest touches, like refinishing hardwood floors, can make a big difference. After all, the goal isn’t just to create a livable space. It’s about bridging the past and the present in a harmonious blend!

Don’t Use Inappropriate Materials

In historic home renovations, material choices play a pivotal role. It’s easy to gravitate towards modern, easily available options. However, this can lead to losing authenticity in the home’s character. For instance, replacing original woodwork with plastic alternatives might initially save costs, but it compromises the home’s genuine essence.

Moreover, it’s crucial to research materials that align with the home’s era. Sometimes, sourcing the right material might take time and effort. Yet, the result is often worth the wait. Furthermore, using inappropriate materials can affect the home’s durability. Consider that some of the materials were originally chosen for a reason, often tailored to the home’s environment and needs. So, while innovation is tempting, striking a balance is essential. And by choosing authentic materials, not only do you preserve the home’s character, but you also ensure its longevity.

Do Consult With Experts

Embarking on a historic home renovation is no small feat. The intricacies involved often go beyond common knowledge. So, just like it’s smart to consult with professionals before storing antique furniture to keep it in the safest condition, the same logic applies to any renovation you try to do on your historic home! Experts bring to the table a wealth of experience and specialized skills. They understand the nuances of older constructions and can guide you through preserving unique features. From architects to historic preservation specialists, their insights can be invaluable! They can even help you identify which elements to retain and which can be safely updated. Furthermore, professionals can offer solutions that maintain the home’s historic integrity while adding modern comforts. In short, consulting experts will safeguard your home’s character and ensure that the renovations stand the test of time.

Don’t Overlook The Details

When it comes to historic homes, details matter immensely. These homes often carry subtle design elements that narrate their history. It might be a carved banister, vintage wallpaper, or classic floor tiles. While larger renovations often grab our attention, you shouldn’t overlook these minute details. These elements often define the home’s character. For instance, original doorknobs or window latches might initially seem insignificant. Yet, they contribute to the overall historic ambiance. So, when planning a renovation, take time to inventory these features. Sometimes, a gentle cleaning or minor repair is all you need to breathe new life into these elements.

Do Upgrade Utilities Carefully

Historic homes often come with outdated utilities. And while embracing the past is key, you shouldn’t ignore modern conveniences. The challenge of historic renovations here lies in integrating new utilities without harming the home’s essence. For example, electrical systems, plumbing, or heating may need revamping to meet today’s standards. But caution is paramount! You’d want to avoid visible cables or conspicuous ducts that clash with the home’s character. So, hiring professionals who specialize in historic homes can make this process smoother. They can guide on hiding installations or blending them seamlessly with the architecture. And here’s a comforting thought: you don’t need to overhaul everything at once. Planning allows you to do utility upgrades slowly on a budget! Remember, it’s all about striking the right renovation balance. Enhance the comfort of living, but do so while keeping the historic charm intact.

Don’t Rush The Renovation Process

Renovating a historic home is a journey, not a race. It’s easy to get swept away by the excitement of seeing a project completed. However, hasty decisions can compromise the home’s integrity. Unexpected challenges can arise, from uncovering hidden damage to sourcing the right materials. So, giving yourself ample time ensures that each choice is considered and fits the home’s heritage. After all, you can’t respect the home’s history while renovating if you rush! By embracing patience, you allow the home to guide your decisions. You’ll be more in tune with its needs and nuances. So, cherish each moment and let the home’s history shape its future.

Do Consider Historic Tax Credits Or Grants

Restoring a historic home is both rewarding and challenging. But did you know there’s thankfully accessible financial support available? Many localities offer historic tax credits or grants. These incentives encourage homeowners to maintain the heritage and character of older properties. So, before starting your renovation, do some research. For example, check with local historical societies or municipal offices. They can provide guidance on available programs and eligibility criteria. Securing such credits can significantly offset renovation costs! Plus, these funds can be a godsend for projects where sourcing original materials might be expensive. It’s not just about the money, though. By tapping into these programs, you become part of a community effort to preserve history. In the end, it’s a win-win. You get financial relief, and the neighborhood retains its historical charm. So, dive deep, explore options, and let history reward your efforts.

Don’t Forget About Landscaping

Landscaping is often an overlooked aspect of historic home renovations. Yet, it’s a very important piece of the puzzle. The outdoor spaces surrounding a home reflect its era’s architectural and cultural trends. From Victorian garden layouts to Edwardian topiaries, every detail has significance. Treat the garden with the same reverence as you’d approach the house with care! And before making changes, research the home’s period. Understand the plants, pathways, and garden features that were popular then. Of course, it’s not always about maintaining everything as it was. Instead, it’s about capturing the essence of the era. With thoughtful landscaping, you can create an outdoor oasis that complements the home’s historic charm. In essence, a well-preserved garden enhances the authenticity of the entire property. So, while focusing on bricks and beams, let the beauty of the past bloom in your garden too.

If you have anymore questions about historic renovations, we’re here to help. We offer free consultations. To schedule one, please email [email protected] or call 504-322-1220.

We are looking for an Architectural Designer to join the team!