Old House Renovation 101: 5 Essential Tips for a Stunning Rehabilitation

There’s something unexplainably appealing in living in an old house. They have a character and a style that is their own. Depending on the year the house was built, it can provide a unique glimpse of the past from the modern-day perspective. However, before you say your vows, you need to know the bride. Owning an old house, whether a historic property or just a few decades’ old one, can be costly. There will be repairs, whether due to ageing structure or damaged aesthetics, but sooner or later you’ll have to put some work into it. Here are the most important issues you should consider.

Prioritise the renovations

When planning for an old house restoration, it’s always tempting to get to the fun stuff first, however, in reality, you should tackle the burning, or should we say leaking issues first. Repairing the roof and windows often comes first, as these exterior elements are highly susceptible to adverse weather and ageing. After all, a leaky roof is going to make a much bigger problem down the road than scratched hardwood floors. The rule is to solve anything that could cause further damage first. By prioritising critical issues, you won’t blow your budget on repairs that don’t matter that much. 

Inspect the foundation

Although this was something you probably considered during the purchase, with aging building it’s always good to double-check the foundation on which the house stands. With foundations, wear and tear are cumulative, but negative results don’t take long to show. A minor crack today can turn into a major problem almost without notice, and other remodelling projects might speed up the process. Then, there are building techniques that were considered the top of the line back in the day but weren’t meant for decades of use. before you attempt any serious alterations, make sure the underlying structure is sound.

Check the water damage

Whether as a result of storm runoff, rising water table, leaky windows, or inefficient plumbing, water damage needs to be addressed ASAP. Not only has it got long-term deteriorating effects, but it could provide a perfect environment for mould and pests. Make sure to check around the ceilings, floor, and windows for any sights of water damage, which could signal a much more serious structural issue. In many cases, hidden leaks are caused by blocked drains that no one bothered to check for years. The reasons are many, from decades of flushing cooking grease, hair, and cellulose products, to invading tree roots, but the solution is simple – professional plumbers with CCTV cameras, powerful water jets, and robotic cutters who can eliminate the root of the problem, pardon the pun.

Keep the original windows

The loss of original period windows is probably the greatest mistake you can make in old house restoration. They are designed to match the character of a house and carry a ton of old days’ charm. While many renovators advise ripping them out for the sake of energy efficiency, the truth is that most of the energy loss in older houses is attributed to walls and ceilings. With all the marketing for double- and triple- glazed e-windows, it’s hard to persuade clients to keep the originals. Instead, you should consider the needs of each window separately, restoring the front windows, adding weather-stripping and exterior storm windows on the sides, and replacing the rotting windows in the back.  

Preserve the original kitchen

Unfortunately, most historical homes retain little trace of their original kitchens, which shouldn’t surprise as kitchens and bathrooms undergo more renovations than any other room in the house. Before you demolish your dated kitchen and make something that would be more pleasing to the crowd at Pinterest, make sure to approach the restoration with an idea that would be appropriate for your house. If there are any features left from the original kitchen, by all means, make them focal points of your renovation work, as they will do more in keeping your home’s original character than any new elements you introduce.

The popularity of TV series like This Old House has brought up a lot of buzz about restoring old properties. Note, however that those projects not only improve the state of the property but also preserve its history. If you’re interested in restoring an old house and calling it home, use these tips to do more research and find your dream home to restore.

By Mike Johnston

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