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Renovating an Old Home: 8 Tips for Renovating an Older Home

We have many clients who love the charm and character of older homes. Whether they’re in a sprawling Victorian, an airy Craftsman or a stately American Foursquare, they love the architectural elements and the details of these homes.

As homes age, however, they often find themselves in need of renovation. Sometimes the renovations are required to update old technologies or to expand cramped quarters. Still other times old home renovations are used to repair or restore the home’s original features. And, with homes of nearly any age, there are times when renovations are needed on an older home due to years of neglect or damage by previous owners.

tips for remodeling old homes

Tips for Renovating an Older Home

No matter the reason for an old home renovation, we’ve seen time and again that the payoff is often worth the effort. Many of these older homes tend to shine with a little renovation TLC, restoration or even expansion. But older homes tend to have considerations for renovations or remodels that newer homes don’t. Here are 8 tips for renovating an older home.

1. Know what you’re working with

First and foremost, we always recommend you have your older home thoroughly inspected. It’s important to identify and understand what, exactly, you’re working with in your older home. For example, is that gorgeous slate roof in good shape and just needs routine maintenance, or is it nearing the end of its run? These types of considerations could literally mean the difference in thousands of dollars of restorations and repairs.

You’ll also want to take a little time to understand your older home’s style and the period in which it was built. You might discover that previous owners covered or hid charming original elements. Your old home renovation could include fully restoring or rebuilding those elements. Plus, understanding your home’s style will help you make key design decisions throughout your renovation.

2. Be committed

Bear in mind that when we say “renovating an older home” we are not talking about a “flip.” Though flipping homes is something we’ve seen lots of folks do with success, many older homes require a long-term commitment from the owners to love the home back to life. You may, of course, think about resale value but if you’re hoping to stay in your home and neighborhood for the next few years, know that you’ll be committing a lot of time, money and work to your older home.

3. Beware of water!

Water damage is one of the most insidious types of damage in an older home. If you’ve noticed water damage, small leaks or moisture on the inside of your windows, this will likely be one of the first things your home renovation team will want to tackle. If you had your home professionally inspected, any water damage should have been noted by the inspector. Few things will compromise an older home like water damage!

4. Start with the not-so-glamorous

We know you want to get started on ripping out those avocado green cabinets in the kitchen, but we advise starting your home renovation at key points in your home: doors, windows, roof and any structural elements. No, these areas aren’t nearly as fun to fix, but these spots are often culprits of some of the biggest expenses in older home renovations. But! Once they’re taken care of and restored properly, you can have peace of mind knowing that the rest of your investment will be tucked away safely inside.

5. Use boundaries to get creative

Your older home might be a part of a historical neighborhood that has strict limits on how you renovate your home. Or perhaps it’s almost impossible to run your new lighting the way you would like, or have one system run the HVAC. Use the boundaries your older home gives you as a way to get creative.

Technology actually plays quite well with older homes, allowing homeowners to get nearly any result they want in their space without completely overhauling the old systems (think split-system HVAC systems, or smart lights). It might be more difficult to think through how a part of your renovation might work in your older home, but take the time to figure out the right solution. You might be surprised with how it all works out!

6. Embrace the quirks of your old home when renovating

Older homes tend to have lots of quirks, odd angles or things that make homeowners go, “but WHY is it like that?” Embrace your older home’s quirks! Make them work for you. Often, those quirks are what gives an older home its charm. Plus, when you work with a reputable design-build company, they can help you find ways to love and embrace those squeaky floors and hidden nooks.

7. Handle materials safely

Let’s face it: not all the materials and techniques used in older homes were the safest. Unless you’ve got experience or certifications in working in older homes renovation, we highly recommend consulting (at minimum) with a professional before you remove old materials or change older wiring or plumbing. Many of these elements can be made of hazardous materials, or they may be dangerously wired or supported. Never take out or demolish something in your older home if you’re not sure what it’s made of or what’s hiding behind the walls.

8. Take advantage of programs for old home remodeling

Some parts of older home renovations might qualify for government programs or historical societies. For example, you might be eligible for a small tax break for any “green home improvements” you make during your renovation. Ask your neighbors or google information on your home and neighborhood. You never know what you might find!

These tips are just a small start to the things you might consider when renovating an older home. Unless you’re a trained and experienced DIYer, we strongly suggest working with a firm in your area with a history of renovating older homes. These professionals not only know what permits they might need to get started on your project, they’re also well-versed in “expecting the unexpected” in older home renovations. if you live in a historic neighborhood, ask your neighbors who they use or recommend for your project. You can also read online reviews or articles to find the right team for you.

No matter who you choose for your project, we know you won’t regret investing time and money into restoring your older home! And your home will thank you for giving it a new life for the years to come.

Old Home Renovations in Columbus, Ohio

Dave Fox is an employee owned company who makes our clients our number one priority. We design and build old home renovations and remodeling projects for our clients in Central Ohio and deliver the best value through exceptional craftsmanship, excellent materials and ethical business practices. Contact us today to learn more!