Old House Restoration Tips and Tricks

Restoring an old house is not a simple job. You need to be aware that you’ll have to take special care when dealing with old structures and materials. And on top of that, you can be sure that the house will have a surprise or two waiting for you. Because of all of this, the costs can add up very quickly. So, we decided to make a list of old house restoration tips and tricks to help you out.

One thing that we can promise you right now is that you’ll be much more confident in what you’re doing when you read this article. We contacted some of the best interior designers and architects during our research. Therefore, every point we make today comes from some of the best professionals in the business. They gave us some guidelines and tips to consider while renovating your home.

So, feel free to dive in and find out what you should expect and look for when restoring an old house.

Living in a historic home is a commitment

Right from the start, you need to understand that living in an old house comes with some cons. These places do have irregularities. So, you can’t expect things like radiant floors. Even evenly heated or cooled rooms are a thing that we don’t see often.

We all know that it’s tough to say no to those old wavy glass windows and amazing-looking flooring. But you have to accept that you’re going to miss some of the creature comforts of 21st-century living.

So, if you’re not a person that is prepared to put on another sweater to battle a drafty room, living in this kind of home may not be for you. Know that, rather than renovating, it may pay off more to move. With these kinds of projects, moving is in some cases the wise choice, so don’t be afraid to do it if you find it suits.

Living in an old house isn’t for everyone.

A woman thinking about old house restoration tips and tricks.

Water damage is your biggest nemesis

One thing that you can never neglect when living in an old house is water damage. It’s a serious and important problem that you need to address as soon as you find out about it. There are a couple of reasons for this.

  • It has long-term effects like dry rot.
  • Bugs and parasites love the wet environment.

To make sure you avoid problems, thoroughly inspect the ceilings, floors, and windows. If you find signs of water damage, it could be a warning of serious structural issues. And that’s something you don’t want to leave untackled.

However, the most important thing you need to check is the sill plate. This horizontal structure component runs around the entire foundation. And it must be in good shape because all of the vertical structural supports are attached to it.

Unfortunately, this is the most vulnerable part of your house at the same time. Since it sits very close to the wet ground, it easily gets soaked. One of the obvious signs that something is wrong with it are crooked floors.

Put together a team to help you

As we already mentioned at the start of our old house restoration tips and tricks, this is not a small job to take. So, it can be very beneficial to hire a contractor and an inspector. These people will help you estimate the amount of work that lays ahead of you, as well as the associated costs.

It’s advisable to get someone who is an expert on restoring historic houses. Although you’ll ask the same questions before hiring a painting contractor, these people are more aware of the problems that you may find in these kinds of homes.

Whichever path you decide to follow, make sure to explain your restoring goals to the people you’re working with. There’s a big difference between preserving something and ripping it out and starting all over again. So, you want to hire someone who will help you and guide you throughout the process.

One of the most important old house restoration tips and tricks is to hire a specialized contractor.

Worker on a building site.

Start small if you don’t have an unlimited budget

Chances are that you won’t have all the money in the world to remodel a historic home. Older houses are fragile, so regardless of size, they will need updates and renovations. And this is the reason why you should start small. It will be more manageable and easier to do.

It’s always better to get your hands on quality materials and renovate less if you don’t have an unlimited budget. Anyone will have a much better experience living in a pristine 18th-century tiny home than in a big mansion with bad tile and roofing.

Know where to start

We understand that it might be tempting to jump right into choosing the perfect table and accessories for your dining room. But don’t do it. The first phase of the renovation should always be directed to practicality rather than aesthetics. You want to fix things that could cause further damage before you do anything else. Therefore, you need to start with the roof, windows, and masonry.

It’s not unusual that the location of the house directly relates to the quality of building materials. In some regions, for instance, sand in mortar is a common thing. Since this negatively affects the integrity of the house, this should be the first thing to tackle.

Luckily, the quality of mortar is something you can check even without help from professionals. Visually check if the mortar is missing from between bricks around the house. If you don’t find any problems, feel free to touch and tap on it to see if it comes apart.

We all love the looks of old windows, but you must make sure they still work.

An old window

Embrace the quirks that are non-threatening 

Fixing things like uneven floors in an old home can be both time-consuming and expensive. So, sometimes it’s not a bad idea to embrace these things. That is if they’re not structurally significant, of course.

Additionally, you shouldn’t be afraid to add more bathrooms or closets if you need them. Just make sure to see this as an opportunity rather than a problem. Figure out ways to utilize the layout you’ll get with these new walls, and you’ll enjoy your historic home even more.

As you can see, there are many old house restoration tips and tricks to be aware of. However, the most important thing is to learn what to sacrifice to preserve the rest.

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