From high ceilings, intricate molding, and wraparound porches to arched windows, historic homes can have a variety of distinctive features that make them unique and full of character. However, if you’ve purchased an older home, you may need to make a few adjustments to ensure it is safe and fitted with modern comforts. If you’re planning to renovate your historic home, below are a few do’s and don’ts to follow.
Modernize the house while preserving historical elements.
One of a historic home’s greatest attributes is its unique character. As you plan your renovation, consider how you can balance safety and livability with historic preservation. Update the plumbing and electrical wiring, which may be inefficient or outdated and pose a safety hazard. But don’t try to make the house something it’s not. Honor its story and distinctive features, such as ornamental casting, columns, or high ceilings, and use what’s there as much as possible.
Hire a specialist.
Historic homes require a special touch. You should choose a contractor who understands the how and why of historic preservation. An experienced preservationist will know how to handle original plumbing, ceiling moldings, and electrical work, as these are often different than their modern counterparts. They’ll also know how to preserve the original components.
Create a budget without a buffer.
With any home improvement project, it’s essential to create a budget before you get started. While creating the budget, ensure you make a list of priorities to allocate the majority of funds to. Also, identify what components you’re willing to compromise on. This is particularly important with a historic home, as unexpected costs are more likely to pop up as contractors may encounter issues such as water damage or electrical problems, which can raise the price. Ensure your budget has a buffer to accommodate such expenses. Otherwise, your project could be significantly delayed.
Start without approval.
Many historic homes are protected. Don’t start the renovation process before checking with your local historical society. They can fill you in on the details of the home’s history and determine what you can and can’t do. Often, homeowners are permitted to completely redo the interior, including taking down walls or raising ceilings, as long as the exterior is preserved. You may also be prohibited from adding square footage or changing the roof, window frames, or shutters.
If you need help renovating your historic home, turn to the experts at Ionic Casting. Based in Long Island City, NY, they’ve served the greater New York City area for more than 50 years. From vaulted ceilings and ornamental casting to columns and architectural casting, they provide a range of services to preserve a historic home’s value and aesthetic. Call (718) 786-7670 to talk to an experienced staff member about your project, or visit the website to view examples of their past work.