1. Choose the Right Guide
From working with out-of-plumb angles to replacing rusted plumbing, remodeling a historic home is an entirely unique adventure with its own set of practical challenges and aesthetic opportunities. Because of this, nothing is as essential as finding an experienced guide who can help you preserve the features you love while adroitly preparing you for and guiding you through particular challenges.
As in any other field, remodelers have particular areas of expertise. At Copper Sky Renovations, historic homes are our passion, and we have fifteen years of experience restoring some of the oldest homes in the Atlanta, GA, area. Just as you’d hire a developer proficient in Java to create an Android app and a developer proficient in Objective-C to create an iOS app, so too you’ll want to hire a historic home remodeling company proficient and proven to help you renovate yours.
2. Research Historic District Guidelines
Before you make too many renovation plans, check to see whether your home is in a historic district. If it is, be sure to research which renovation guidelines govern this area, since many historic homes are guarded by law.
3. Address Structural Issues First
It’s always exciting to plan superficial elements—to refinish trim, to rebuild a mantelpiece for the fireplace, to reseal exposed brick finishes, etc. When remodeling a historic home, however, it’s essential to address potential structural issues, such as water damage to the sill plate, leaking roofs, decaying floorboards, crumbling masonry, etc.
Remember also that elements such as wiring and plumbing, which may have been built to standard building specifications when the home was first constructed, are likely no longer to code. To remodel your home, you’ll need to first update these according to best building practices. (In older homes, it’s especially important to check for radon poisoning, remove asbestos, and address issues related to lead paint poisoning.)
4. Emphasize What You Love
Remodeling a historic home may, at times, feel like a daunting initiative, so it’s important to remember which elements in your home first charmed you. As you develop design plans with your contractor, brainstorm ways to emphasize these elements.
5. Preserve Aesthetic Cohesion
Finally, as you plan upgrades to your historic home, be sure to consider how your new designs work with your home’s original intent. It’s certainly fine to modernize function and introduce contemporary aesthetics, but you’ll be happier with your end result when these upgrades complement rather than clash with your home’s original aesthetic intent.
Of course, when you live in a historic home, you won’t be the first or even second owners of the home. Because of this, you’ll need to figure out how to enter the “conversation” your home’s previous custodians have held. Can you develop an enhancement they introduced? Can you correct a style statement they imposed? Identify each era of ownership and think carefully about how you will contribute to the conversation, and as you do so, consult with your historic home remodeling company design team for guidance.