Historic homes hold unparalleled charm and potential. If you’ve never remodeled one before, however, you may feel uncertain about where to begin: What should you preserve and what should you replace? Which quirks compromise the integrity of your structure and which are okay to keep? At Copper Sky, we specialize in remodeling historic homes, so let us be your guide.
Invest in the Right Projects First
When you approach remodeling your historic home, it’s tempting to want to fine tune flourishes first. For instance, you might come in with a plan for the gorgeous new shaker kitchen cabinets you’ll purchase or the original mantelpiece millwork you want to replicate in other areas of your home. These “extras” are fine to ideate, but they shouldn’t be the first thing you address.
Instead, prioritize maintenance. Check to ensure that your roofing, windows, floors, and masonry are all structurally sound, and be sure to immediately address any compromised areas. Don’t forget to check for radon, asbestos, and lead paint as well before tackling your long-term goals. If you’re not sure how to identify maintenance issues that should be addressed, ask your contractor to do a building walk-through with you.
Watch for Water Damage
One major maintenance concern we see when remodeling historic homes is water damage. Water damage can be spotted in obvious places, like in cabinets under sinks, but you’ll also want to examine your ceiling, your basement, and your sill plate. (Your sill plate is the horizontal structure to which all your walls are attached; if it’s exposed, you can see it running around the base of your home outside. Before you do anything else, check to make sure your sill isn’t rotten!)
Check with Your City’s Planning Department before You Make a Change
Historic homes often belong to designated historic districts, which means that your city planning department may have set restrictions on the types of remodeling projects you can undertake. Before you paint your home’s exterior, add an addition, or make any other significant and visible changes, be sure to approve them with your city’s planning department.
Know Your Loan Options
If your home needs extensive repairs, you may not find it easy to procure a traditional U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development loan. In this case, Nerdwallet recommends getting a private HUD Title 1 loan for minor home repairs, a 203k loan (or rehab mortgage insurance), or a Fannie Mae HomeStyle Renovation mortgage.
Choose the Right Contractor
Finally and most importantly, choose an Atlanta,GA, contractor who loves your historic home as much as you do and has a wealth of experience renovating older homes. Unfortunately, some contractors assume that the best way to make an old home functional is to gut it and begin fresh instead of carefully restoring and preserving its historic features while modernizing its function. You selected your historic home because it offers a charm no modern building could replicate, so select a contractor who can help you highlight those intrinsic qualities.