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Friday, July 2, 2010

8 Points to consider when remodeling a historic home

If you have a historic house and want to remodel, here are eight points to consider ahead of time:

Restoration or Renovation? Are you restoring the house to its original glory or renovating with an eye toward modernizing the house while retaining its historic character?

Do your homework: There are a lot of resources that will tell you how your house should look and how to restore it. Every state has an office of historic preservation. They will help you even if your house isn't registered as a historic home. Also look for renovation networks, preservation associations, or other groups of like- minded renovators.

Design a plan: If you have major changes in mind, you will need an architect and contractor who are familiar with historic homes. They can help you come up with a plan about what to preserve and what to replace. This plan will make the next steps easier.

Preserve Historic Details: Consider all the elements that give the house historic character, including the floor plan, the hardware, lighting, and size and shape of the rooms. Think about how you can achieve your renovation goals while preserving the house's historic character.

Find Craftspeople: Hire subcontractors familiar with the construction techniques and unique features of your home's time period. You may have to search for a while to find people who offer the specialized skills you need.

Find Suppliers: There are companies that make "like-old" materials, which are new but conform to the aesthetic standards of your home's era. If you want materials with the patina of age, look around at flea markets, salvage yards, and demolition sales.

Keep your Budget: If your funds are unlimited, decide ahead of time which areas of the house you will focus on. You may need to start small with one or two focal points, such as restoring the stairs or replacing them molding.

Preserve the Exterior: You want your house to look the part from the outside, but keeping the historic exterior is challenging when you modernize. You may want contemporary energy efficient windows but they can look out of place on an older home. However, some contractors can install new triple-paned glass while restoring the original frames.

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