historical home restoration
©Eric Muhr

5 Rules For Restoring a Historical Home

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Home restorations are huge projects. But restoring a historical home? That’s an entirely different playing field. Restoring a historical home might be a passion project for some, but for other homeowners, it’s an investment that can increase the home’s value for when it’s time to sell.

Thinking of restoring your historical home? Prepare for this investment with our top tips for starting a historical home restoration project.

Inspect for Issues

It might seem counter-intuitive, but when you embark on a restoration journey, first start by identifying the “bad” first. That means identifying any issues, repairs, or damages that must be fixed before moving forward. Get a professional to help you measure the home’s square footage so you’re prepared with that information later in the process.

Check to see that the house isn’t leaning, sagging, or falling. Check the foundation for cracks or in the basement and on your walls. Inspect the roof for rot, damage, or leaks.

It’s wise to give your own home a DIY inspection before having a professional stop by. This, if anything, allows you to understand where your historical home will need the most work and where to devote your dollars to do so. Of course, this is not a substitute for a professional home inspection, which is a necessity.

Find an Expert Renovator

You can’t be sure that your town’s most popular contractor is well versed in restoring old homes, so spend time finding a trusted renovator who can complete the project correctly and efficiently.

A renovator who knows a good deal about historical home renovations will understand the trials of updating plumbing, electric, and more. Getting this done right the first time will increase your chances of selling your historical home for the price you want.

It’s not a bad idea to work with a local historian, either, to help you understand the context needed to pull off a special project like this.

Choose the Features that Matter Most

There are surely many projects in your historical home you’ll want to tackle, but with some of them (especially masonry, special woodwork, etc.) costing thousands of dollars, you’ll want to pick which projects will benefit the house’s value most.

You’re not guaranteed to get a return on every project you complete, so identify what will make or break your deal. For instance, if the home has several fireplaces, choose to refurbish the one that’s in the living room that will catch the eye of a potential buyer right away. After all, this type of project can cost upwards of $12,000, and you may not have it in the budget to refurbish more than one.

Speaking of Budget…

Set one, and try your best to stick with it. Historic home renovations can be full of surprises, so plan a budget as soon as you decide on the vision for the home.

Tackle a “soft” costs budget first, which will include fees like taxes, utilities, insurance, and more. You can expect to go over, especially with a historic renovation. Appliances, such as heating elements, will cost more to refurbish than it will to update the same appliance from just 10 years ago. It’s no wonder why most historic restoration projects tend to go over budget.

However, making sure the updates you’re making enhance the home’s safety and soundness will increase its value down the line (and help you ace your future inspections and appraisal).

Restore, Don’t Remodel

Remember, if your home is designated a historic home in a historic district, then you will want to restore and preserve in lieu of a full remodel. You don’t want to undermine the rest of the historic properties (if any) in the area.

In some cases, historic districts raise property values, so taking the time to work with a knowledgeable contractor or builder to restore your home can further increase your own personal property value. But they key here is to do it right.

Restoring a historic home can be a painstaking project full of unexpected repairs and busted budgets. In the end, though, a properly restored home can increase in value slightly faster than homes outside of historic districts. That means you not only have a historic home you can cherish for years to come, but you also have an increase property value to show for it.

Featured Photo by Eric Muhr on Unsplash.

Ian Mutuli is the Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He occasionally writes about startups and tech for The Press Farm. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.