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Top 8 Considerations When Remodeling an Old Home

Old home makeover on Renovation Hunters.

Older homes have charm and character that is next to impossible to capture in a new build. But, before diving head-first into the demo and remodeling of an old home, there are a few things to consider.

Table of Contents

1. Top 8 Considerations When Remodeling an Old Home

2. Why Remodel Older Homes?

a. Renovating Old Houses With Renovation Hunters

3. Considerations for an Older Home’s Home Renovation

a. Structural Integrity
b. Electrical and Plumbing Systems
c. Historical Significance
d. Budget Range
e. Assessment of Energy Efficiency
f. Preservation of Tradition
g. Design Aesthetic
h. Potential Health Hazards

4. Your Woodwork Partner in Home Renovation

Why Remodel Older Homes?

Obviously, remodeling an older home is different from new construction. Most often, renovations are done for one of two reasons: homeowners want to update living spaces in older homes with modern amenities or they are trying to preserve the history and tradition of the home.

Chris Filardi, Hal Shaffer and Kevin Tarkovich on a recent American Hardwood Advisor episode.

Renovating Old Houses With Renovation Hunters

Outdoor Channel’s first-ever home improvement TV show, Renovation Hunters, took a team of expert craftsmen and experienced DIY-ers across the country to give new life to several old vacation cabins.

In a recent episode of our American Hardwood Advisor podcast, the creative team behind Renovation Hunters stopped by Studio 3B to talk about the first project of the new series — a large family hunting cabin in Hyannis, Nebraska. Follow along as Hal Shaffer, host and managing partner/co-creator, Kevin Tarkovich, lead contractor, and Chris Filardi, managing partner/co-creator, spill secrets from behind the scenes.


Watch Here:

Considerations for an Older Home’s Home Renovation

If you’re convinced that home remodeling is a must, it’s important to have a good understanding of what you’ll be working with – especially if you’re considering taking on your home renovation as a DIY project. Do your homework! Take time to learn about how things were done in the past, and know how things should be done today so that all new work is up to code.

Even if you hire an experienced contractor to complete the project, there are a few key points to always keep top of mind (and most of them are NOT glamorous).

1. Structural Integrity

The most important thing to consider when remodeling a historic house is the integrity of the building itself. As with anything, the original building materials will deteriorate over time, and (at some point) need to be replaced. Inspect the building’s foundation, check the integrity of the roof and ensure load-bearing walls are intact. Repair any damage to these integral parts of the home before continuing with construction.

2. Electrical and Plumbing Systems

No matter the age of the structure, homeowners should evaluate the electrical and plumbing systems when considering home remodeling. Before starting any home renovation, fix any issues that come up.

While this can be an expensive component to the project, it’s even MORE expensive to address water damage or fire hazards (like outdated electrical for new light fixtures) after the remodel has already been done. Inspect the basics early…always.

3. Historical Significance

Renovating a historic home is no small feat, and updating a historic building while still maintaining and honoring the original craftsmanship requires knowledge and skill. Plus, historic homes can have restrictions on what can be renovated or changed on both the exterior and interior design elements.

If your home is on the National Register of Historic Places, check with your municipality to see if the property is subject to certain conditions, like limitations on windows, exterior paint or additions to the home.

Victorian-era historic house.

4. Budget Range

Lock down your budget before starting a remodeling project, but also resign yourself to the fact that there will be expenses you likely won’t have planned for. Determine a range for how much you’re capable of spending, whether you’re planning a Victorian house makeover or are upgrading a relatively new home.

Not all older homes are unsalvageable fixer-uppers, so don’t write off remodeling an old home just because you think it’ll break the bank. Price out lumber and speak with a knowledgeable contractor to gauge the feasibility of the project.

5. Assessment of Energy Efficiency

Many older homes are not up to today’s energy efficiency standards, especially if the structure still has its original windows. As a homeowner, it’s important to add systems that improve energy efficiency. Upgrade insulation, consider replacing windows and assess HVAC systems. Updates to these elements reduce energy consumption — ultimately saving money in the long run.

6. Preservation of Tradition

When remodeling an older home, be cognizant of traditional architecture and interior design. A 19th-century house has a lot of history – whether the structure has historical significance or not – because of the decades of people who have lived there. While you can recreate that traditional style, nothing compares to the real thing.

Respecting Generations Past

Renovation Hunters honored generations of family tradition when renovating a 172-year-old getaway cabin in Critz, VA. The team made upgrades to the entire property while maintaining the look and feel of the historic log cabin.

Character grade hickory countertops in cabin kitchen.

7. Design Aesthetic

So, you’ve decided to remodel an old home, but have you settled on the look you want to achieve? Are you preserving the current aesthetic of the home? Are you doing a complete modern makeover with a new floor plan? Are you keeping the original woodwork while adding a modern twist on the rest of the interior design? Answer these questions before you break ground on a remodeling project.

In many cases, when homeowners are trying to replicate intricate interior mouldings, Baird Brothers Fine Hardwoods gets the opportunity to work directly with the consumer to recreate profiles and design new options. Our 3D printing capabilities allow us to create actual samples of profile concepts, and we have thousands of custom mouldings at the ready to match existing woodwork in your home.

8. Potential Health Hazards

Before any major renovation, it’s important to identify any health-related concerns that might be present. For example, asbestos was commonly used in building materials before it was discovered that long-term exposure to the substance could cause cancer or other serious diseases. Take extreme caution when renovating if there is a chance of asbestos or other harmful substances.

Your Woodwork Partner in Home Renovation

Whether you have a passion for remodeling old homes or are starting on new construction, Baird Brothers Fine Hardwoods is your go-to fine hardwood supplier. With our products, you can replicate vintage styles or add today’s hottest trends to your historic home.

Stop by our showroom or contact our expert sales team today and get to work on your dream home. Inspiration starts here!