Historic Property Renovation: Restoring Architectural Charm And Character – , a weekly column that summarizes historic homes on the market and answers the questions you’ve always had about old buildings.
Renovating a historic home can be quite a challenge. Not only do you need to be especially careful with older structures and building materials, but older homes can be full of surprises and costs can add up quickly. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that the right renovations can turn a nightmare into a dream home.
Historic Property Renovation: Restoring Architectural Charm And Character
We turned to one of our favorite interior designers and architects, fellow old home enthusiast Steven Gambrel. He restored and restored many 18th and 19th century homes in and around New York City, such as the 1853 Captain Overton House in Sag Harbor. Find out what to expect and what to look out for when renovating an old home.
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Do you think things like radiant flooring or even rooms that are evenly heated or cooled are essential? If so, living in an unkempt old house might not be for you.
“If you buy a historic home because you like the feel of the old, corrugated windows and floors, you have to understand that you won’t be able to enjoy the creature comforts,” says Gambrel. “It’s what 21st century life entails.”
“I will do anything to maintain corrugated glass in a window, even if it is a well-ventilated room,” adds Gambrel. “I’ll just wear a different sweater. But if you’re not that person, this isn’t the house for you.
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“Water damage is serious, significant and needs to be addressed,” says Gambrel. “Water damage has long-term effects such as dry rot. and mistake
Pay particular attention to signs of water on the ceiling, floor, and around windows. This could be a warning of serious structural problems.
An element that deserves special attention is the sill plate. The sill plate is the lowest horizontal element of the structure, surrounding the entire foundation. All vertical structural supports in the house are attached to the door frame plates.
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“Window sill plates have the most exposure to water because they are close to wet surfaces,” says Gambrel. “If the floor is crooked, it may be because the window panes are warped because the entire structure of the house rests on top of them.”
Contractors and inspectors can help you estimate how much work needs to be done and how much it will cost. However, it may be helpful to research people with experience in historic preservation.
“We need a local historian or contractor to restore historic homes. They can provide the most assistance and inform you about the renovation process that needs to be undertaken,” says Gambrel.
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Above all, anyone you bring in must understand the ultimate goal of restoring your property. “A lot of people don’t understand the difference between maintenance, tearing something down and starting over,” says Gambrel. “That’s not what you want. We need talented people to help us with the process of renovating our old homes.
Older homes of any size may need updates and renovations, but unless you have unlimited funds, look for smaller homes that are easier to maintain.
“Buy high-quality materials and don’t refinish often,” says Gambrel, who renovated Captain Overton’s home in Sag Harbor. Gambrel includes double mahogany windows, custom-designed brass hardware, and a salvaged marble mantel. “I would rather live in a small, perfectly restored 18th-century colonial house than in an old house with bad tiles.”
Historic Property Restoration
Demolition work is underway in the early stages of the renovation of Captain Overton’s home. Provided by Stephen Gambrell.
Even if you have no plans to sell, it’s wise to consider resale value when setting your budget, says Gambrel. “Typically, the cost of renovating a home in different locations is the same, regardless of what the local real estate market supports,” he says. “You don’t want to overpay for a home that doesn’t offer an equivalent return.”
To do this, find out how much fully renovated homes are selling for in your area and let this information help you plan your budget. An easy budget-saving goal is choosing a fireplace to remodel.
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Often the lining of a fireplace top needs to be replaced or the brickwork repaired. According to Gambrel, this process can cost more than $12,000.
. If you find a place with multiple fireplaces and chimneys, it may be wise to pick and choose which ones you want to repair.
It may be tempting to pick out your kitchen cabinets and paint samples right away, but the first step in your renovation should be practical, not aesthetic. “It’s like managing a crisis: You have to fix the problem first to prevent further damage,” says Gambrel. “Make sure your home is watertight. Repair roofs, windows and walls.
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Sometimes the location of a house is directly related to the strength and quality of its building materials. “A serious problem that can arise in some areas is sand getting into the mortar. This has a negative impact on integrity,” says Gambrel. “Because the land on Long Island is sandy, many 18th-century chimneys were built with this weak mortar, so the bricks will be weaker and require more care.”
Fireplaces and chimneys are good places to check if grout repairs are needed. This is called a reassignment. Before calling a professional, do a preliminary test with your hands. “If you don’t see any mortar missing [between the bricks/stones of your home], feel the mortar with your finger and tap it to see if it breaks apart.”
Gambrel warns that updating your home’s heating, cooling and electrical systems is definitely the most expensive part of any renovation, but don’t worry that doing the updates will mean you’ll have to remove all the period details you’ve come to love.
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“Technology is very helpful in maintenance. You can break down mechanical systems into smaller units and power the upper floors from the attic and the lower floors from the basement,” says Gambrel. “It’s called a split system, and it’s a really good way to do it without damaging much of the historic structure of the house.”
An alcove created by the new bathroom behind the right wall houses a queen-sized bed. Light enters the bathroom through the window above the bed. Provided by Stephen Gambrell.
Evening out uneven floors in an old home is a time-consuming and expensive process. Why not include them in your home design plan? “I have a house in Manhattan that was built in 1827. It’s crooked! So I left it crooked,” says Gambrel. “I designed all the structural elements, such as the skirting boards, to accommodate the curves of the floor. The baseboard may be 6 inches tall in one place and 8 inches tall in another place.
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Likewise, if you’re wondering where to add bathrooms and closets, look at the problem as an opportunity. Captain Overton’s restored home includes a bedroom with a bed built into an alcove created when Gambrel added a bathroom on the second floor.
It’s about knowing what to sacrifice to keep the rest. “I’d rather maintain the integrity of three attractive rooms and compromise on the fourth than to cut all four and be stuck with four mediocre rooms,” says Gambrel. “You have to make it a creative opportunity. This is the beauty, charm, and strangeness of innovation. How to Restore Period Features in an Old Home Many historic homes have beautiful antique features just waiting to see the light of day again. Here’s how to discover it and bring new life to this historic gem.
Whether you own a Victorian home with intricate ceiling rosettes, an Italianate mansion with ornate doors, or an Edwardian home with original tiled fireplaces, much of your property’s value and architectural interest is likely to lie in its period features.
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Therefore, if you are carrying out a renovation, it is important to carry out the renovation work carefully and sensitively. Old fabrics may be weak or weak, especially if they have not been properly cared for in the past. When in doubt, it is always recommended to consult a professional if necessary.
Homeowners in England whose properties are listed must obtain planning consent before any work can be carried out. Additionally, if your home is located in a conservation area or area of outstanding national beauty, you will need planning permission. In the United States, modifications to homes listed on the National Register of Historic Places may require a permit. Many cities have their own historic districts, so you may want to check with your local city government.
Few historical elements can create such an effect in a building as can wooden beams. Exposed beams can be found everywhere from medieval barn conversions to 20th century cottages. Paint and finishes may need to be removed to reveal the wood’s unique characteristics.
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