R emodeling is an American past-time, with millions of homeowners choosing to upgrade their abodes annually. In addition, most home improvement projects involve relatively low spending, with an average of $7,560 in 2018.
Even small changes can make a massive difference to your home, but what if you’re looking to remodel and renovate an old house? These homes come with extra quirks you need to account for, especially if you want to retain their original character.
Follow these steps to remodel an older home.
What You Can and Can’t Do with an Old House
Old houses are incredibly complex to renovate and remodel because of their age. As a result, it’s not uncommon for owners of these homes to uncover unexpected problems after construction has begun. You can avert this issue by completing a home inspection before touching anything.
You also need to be aware that you may be obliged by law to protect the historic character of your home. Check with your municipality if you have a home built over a hundred years ago. Fines running into tens of thousands of dollars are common for breaking these rules.
You’ll also want to consult a contractor with prior experience working with older homes. Period homes used different materials and were structured differently. An inexperienced contractor can leave you seriously out of pocket.
Step One – List What You Want to Change
The first step to making your plan is deciding what you want to change. Next, begin a list of all the things that need to be upgraded in your home.
Note that with a heritage home, you may be restricted by your local municipality on what you can and cannot change. Work with a design team with experience managing these homes to ensure you comply with the rules.
Step Two – Perform a Home Inspection
Unless you’ve just purchased the home, the chances are you’ll need to perform a home inspection. Older homes will always have lingering issues because of their age. So before you initiate any renovations, order a detailed inspection and survey the existing conditions of the building.
The last thing you want is for any surprises to crop up after construction has already begun. Knowing the facts now can save you from blowing your budget later.
Step Three – Address Foundation Issues
The foundations of your home must be steady and stable after the remodeling begins. The condition of the foundations is critical to maintaining the structural integrity of your home.
While 65% of new single-family homes were built using slab foundations in 2020, older homes may have more complex foundations, such as stilts or pilings. These require some extra care to manage.
Be aware that in some areas of the country, such as Seattle, you may be required to bring your building up to code by seismically retrofitting the foundations due to the risk of earthquakes.
Step Four – Inspect Electricity and Plumbing Systems
Today’s homes were built with safety in mind. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for older homes, which likely have electricity and plumbing systems that haven’t been updated in decades. So again, you may be required to update them to bring them up to code.
Call in an electrician and a plumber to inspect both systems. Even if you didn’t plan to update them, calling in an inspector can ensure that they’re not dangerous.
For example, if you’re looking for a hearth & fireplace installer in Berlin, PA, and you’ve settled on electric, modern fireplaces may not be compatible with your older system. If you proceed with the work only for the electrical work to be of a poor standard, your project will be delayed and cost you considerably more than expected.
Step Five – Hire a Contractor
After going through the ins and outs of your home’s essentials, you’ll now have an idea of the scope of your project and how much you want to spend.
Hiring a contractor requires researching and ensuring that you hire the right individual or company. For example, some homeowners hire separate contractors for every job, whereas others may prefer to hand the hassle over to a company that will handle your project’s various aspects.
It’s up to you. Just make sure you perform your due diligence before committing to a contract.
Step Six – Sort Out the Permits
Most municipalities will require you to obtain a permit for home remodeling. Which permits you to require and how costly/awkward they are to get largely depends on where you live.
Hiring a contractor can enable you to hand over the problem to someone else. In addition, contractors are experienced in managing the fine details of applying for and obtaining permits for different projects. Many contractors provide this as an extra service.
It’s strongly recommended that you don’t place any orders for materials until your permit has been confirmed. Ordering drywall, lumber, and new doors can leave you seriously out of pocket if the municipality rejects your plans.
Step Seven – Start Demolition
After the materials have arrived and your permits are in hand, you can begin demolishing parts of your old home.
If you’re adding space to your home, this is the point when your contractor will have to carry out some framing work before demolishing anything.
If your home remodeling project involves moving any internal walls, now is an excellent time to start installing your new windows and doors. However, if you’re letting your contractor do all the work, sit back, and let them handle everything. Experienced contractors already know the best way to preserve your historic home while implementing your desired changes.
Remodeling an old home is an exciting project. Retaining the character of your home while installing the modern features and amenities for a contemporary lifestyle is the perfect combination.
Planning will save you considerable time and effort in the long run. So take the time to set a budget and decide exactly what you want to do while leaving some wiggle room to confront any unexpected issues.
Do you have any plans for remodeling your home soon?