Remodeling An Older Home

Older Home

Older Home

The term “remodeling” is different from the term “renovating”, and, the most significant difference is that the former involves a change in the overall structure of a home, as opposed to the latter, which is merely adding enhancements, such as color, finish or landscaping.  In the case of older homes, you also should not confuse the word “renovation” with “restoration”.  The word “restoration” means the homeowner is seeking to restore areas of the home, which have begun to deteriorate, back to their original condition.  This is a costly venture, and involves duplicating to a “T” anything, from a lowly knob, to a whole area of the house.   This is an especially tedious task in the case of homes which are prized for their historical value.  As to remodeling an older house, most remodeling jobs involve the addition of a room, or area of the house, or changing the style of a rooftop, and, unlike a simple renovation, which may be a DIY project or involve one contractor, an extensive remodeling job usually involves an architect who must be retained to design and plan the project, then multiple contractors with various specialties whose presence may be needed at some point in the remodeling venture.

Remodeling an older home is much trickier because you must deal with the dilemma of old wiring, plumbing or sometimes an ancient heating or cooling system.  Thus, remodeling an older home, is best left to a person skilled in this subject such as a professional remodeling contractor in Mid Coast Maine.

While a skilled remodeling contractor is happy to provide design ideas for you to go forward with the project you have in mind, he or she will also counsel you that whatever enhancements you do to your home, never to “overbuild for your neighborhood”.  Essentially, this means if you have a $100,000.00 home, and you put a $100,000.00 addition onto it, you would then have a $200,000.00 house in a $100,000.00 neighborhood.  So, the moral of the story is, choose your enhancements wisely.

Planning The Remodeling

One of the joys of owning an older home is that years ago when it was constructed, craftsmen took much more pride in their work.  Architects sought to create individuality in the homes in a neighborhood, and, thus the homes did not spring up in cookie-cutter fashion.  Designs for homes were created at a drawing board, with a blueprint, and structures were made of solid brick and built to last.  The fine detailing, from wainscoting to windows is superb.  Even the wood trim and floors in an old house have “aged gracefully” giving the house the character and solid look that makes it so special.  Most of today’s homes are built with designs created with computer software, and, are either prefabricated or just brick faced.  It is a different world in homebuilding now.

That said, though the brick and mortar may still be in good shape, the wood structure, plumbing and electrical system – maybe not so much.  Any major remodeling job will require City permits to be obtained, and that will necessitate ensuring that the house is up to code before it passes inspection at the conclusion of the job.  Before the remodeling job can even begin, an expert will need to determine the structural integrity of the house, and, this inspection will even involve checking for termite infestation before going forward.  Oftentimes long-neglected crawlspaces might have foundation or floor structure defects thanks to wood-destroying inspects that gnaw on timber for years before it is detected.  Even long- ago destruction by water or fire, could have been concealed, not intentionally – it was just never discovered before a significant renovation takes place.

Other home inspections might include reviewing, and/or replacing, an antiquated heating or cooling system, or any type of pipes, which may or may not be copper, but which could, unfortunately, be lead, and even covered with asbestos.  If asbestos is discovered in any part of your walls, basement or attic, before any remodeling may take place, a special permit must be obtained and a contractor licensed in asbestos removal must be hired to rid your home of any of the deadly asbestos.  The costs for a company to do professional asbestos abatement can run from $15,000.00 to $18,000.00.  Also, as to the subject of toxic substances that were used in and around a house back in the day, lead paint is also a contaminant.  Lead paint was used for years for interior/exterior painting as well as in plumbing up until the 1940s.  Even when galvanized pipes replaced lead pipes, lead was used for soldering copper pipes right through the mid-1980s.  Many older homes now utilize a special water filtration system just to ensure there is no lead in their water pipes.  The cost for a water filtration system runs from $500.00 for one set of pipes to $2,000.00 for pipes throughout the house.  The water filtration system obviates the need to replace all the pipes which might contain lead, which would cost approximately $7,000.00.  The cost to replace any outside siding which may contain lead contaminants is approximately $15,000.00 to $18,000.00.

An electrician may be used by your remodeling contractor to scope out the house for replacement of old wiring, because the wiring in older homes consisted of only two wires:  the power and neutral.  Modern houses with modern wiring now have three wires: power, neutral and ground; the use of three-prong plugs over two-prong plugs is extensive, especially for power equipment, kitchen appliances, and, of course, electronics and computer equipment.

You probably have already realized that, despite the solid structure of an older home, it does not come maintenance free, so hopefully you’ve not already emptied your wallet trying to keep up with the high cost of maintaining an older structure with its various shortcomings.  The sad thing is that sometimes the issues affecting the structure in an older home are not discovered until a remodeling project is undertaken and the wooden structure of the house is laid bare and open.  Only then do the defects become evident.

New Windows

When remodeling involves replacing the existing windows panes, what are you to do?  Do you try to match the same old-style, single-pane windows, typically more expensive and harder to find now, than the current styles of double-pane energy-efficient windows?  The old windows lend character to the house, but the newer windows must be retrofitted, and often look out of place in the overall design of the house.

Transform Your Home

So we have learned that while even a little remodeling could spruce up your older home, the cost of doing the project at hand, might entail more extensive projects just to ready your home for the new enhancements.  So let the buyer beware at all times when you are seeking to improve the look of your older home.  Having an older house has its benefits because your house has character.  But to preserve that character, you might be compromised with small rooms, narrow hallways or a cramped kitchen, and you have to sacrifice many of the modern conveniences that others just take for granted, but, it is well worth enduring these small inconveniences in the long run.  Weigh each aspect of your remodeling efforts with an expert – he or she will counsel you on the best materials, design and outcome that you should expect with the project.