Category: Repair

Renovating a Historic Home

Living in an historic home can be a labor of love. The history and the distinct architecture of historic homes draw buyers to such properties, but what historic homes have in regard to history they often lack in the conveniences of modern life, forcing manyhistoric-home owners to make renovations to bring their homes into the 21st century.

Historic-home renovations differ from other types of modifications. According to the Victorian Preservation Association,renovation is getting a home back to where it may have been when originally built, but making concessions for today’s lifestyle. Preservation is the act of maintaining a structure in its currenthistoric state, and restoration is returning a home to its original state. Unless a homeowner plans to use an outhouse or live without electricity, the majority of work done on historicproperties is likely to fall into the category of a renovation.

Renovating an aging structure can be fulfilling and help to make a home more functional. But make no mistake, such a renovation is a major undertaking. Before beginning, it pays to hire a professional consultant with expertise in renovating historicproperties. He or she can inspect the property to determine which areas of the home are safe and which will need to be upgraded. A professional inspection also can determine if any deficiencies lie hidden in the structure. Potential concerns can be toxic paints and other substances, building code issues, rotting, and structural settling. Professionals will know what to look for and guide homeowners accordingly.

farmhouseHomeowners also may want to consult with a preservation association, community restoration group or general owner-builder group. These people can refer homeowners to the craftspeople and materials that will be needed for a job. Homeowners can request to see other historic properties in the area and learn what those owners did to maintain the integrity of a home when using newer materials.

Before any work is started, homeowners should find out if their home is listed with the National Register of Historic Places. According to the United States National Parks Service, property owners can do whatever they want with their property so long as there are no federal monies attached to the property. However, the property owner should also contact his or her state’s historicpreservation office, or SHPO. The SHPO is the state agency that oversees historic preservation efforts in each state, and there may be state or local preservation laws that the owner should be aware of before renovating a historic property.

Craftspeople should have experience with historic homes and a sensitivity and appreciation of renovating older properties. Homeowners always should see examples of a craftsperson’s work and verify references from each contractor before hiring anyone to work on the property.

Homeowners who want to include traditional hardware and other period details in their homes may be able to find quality replicas ofhistoric milling materials, while others may want to scour antique shops or salvage yards for era-appropriate materials.

Historic renovations can be costly and have a tendency to go over budget because of unforseen damage and hazards that have to be repaired so the building is up to code. Going into the project with this in mind can help soften the blow of extra costs down the road.

Historic homes can be beautiful and appeal to buyers who appreciate the one-of-a-kind nature of older properties.Renovating historic homes may take time and money, but the results may be well worth the effort.


Removing Snow from your Roof

The beauty of winter landscapes is not foremost on the minds of homeowners who have roofs full of heavy snow and ice. What may seem beautiful elsewhere can cause anxiety when one’s home is under a precipitation onslaught.

Excessive snow loads on a roof can cause the roof to leak or even collapse. The weight, and not the depth, of the snow is what determines if it needs to be removed from the roof. Fluffy snowmay not be problematic, as it can take around seven times as much dry snow to equal the weight of wet snow.

After a snowstorm, go outside and lift a few shovelfuls of snow. If it’s back-breaking work, then the snow on your roof may be dangerous.

snowyhouseHomes built to code can typically handle the snow and ice load that comes with the winter season. However, homes that have undergone unapproved renovations, or those where load-bearing walls have been removed from the interior may be susceptible to catastrophic roof collapses.

Another problem homeowners face this time of year is ice dams, which occur when snow on the roof melts slightly and then refreezes, forming thick portions of ice usually at the edges of the roof by the gutters. Ice dams can divert melting snow in and under roofing shingles instead of through gutters and downspouts.

A common contributor to ice dams is inadequate ventilation and insulation in attics. Heat from the interior of the home that rises into the attic can cause the roof to warm up enough to melt thesnow. This is easily remedied by having ample insulation and ensuring proper ventilation of the attic to maintain temperatures cool enough to prevent underside melting of snow.

Signs of a problem

If you experience any leaks from the ceiling or notice water coming down walls, a roof leak from excess snow or ice dams may be the culprit. Snow that is too heavy may create cracks in plaster and drywall and cause sagging that affects the framework of interior doorways. If you hear creaking or popping sounds, immediately exit the house, as these are strong indicators of an imminent collapse.

Clearing the roof:

The Better Business Bureau warns against going up on the roof if you cannot safely remove the snow with an ice rake or similar tool. You should not jeopardize your health by trying to remove snow and ice.

Confirm that contractors who remove snow have current liability and worker’s compensation insurance before hiring them. Contractors will charge anywhere from $60 to $300 per hour to remove snow from the roof. *Always inquire in advance as to what a fee covers.

Even after snow is removed, there’s no guarantee it will not accumulate again. Keep in mind that some snow and ice removal remedies can invalidate the warranty on recently installed roof shingles. This is something that must be weighed before proceeding with snow removal.

Home insurance policies may or may not cover the cost of snow removal and damage. Call your insurance company to find out what your policy covers. Keep good records for the cost of all repairs to see if you can be reimbursed.


Add Home Value with Renovations

Homeowners choose renovation projects for a variety of reasons. Although many improvements are made to increase functionality and comfort of a home, several others are seen as worthwhile investments. These investments can add up to a higher resale value when the time comes to sell a home.

Certain projects have a history of providing a greater return on homeowners’ investments than others. The following renovation tips can add beauty to your home and generate great returns when you put the home up for sale.

· Invest in your kitchen. Kitchen remodels are a safe bet when it comes to putting money into improving a home. Residents tend to spend a great deal of time in the kitchen, but a dated, poorly functioning kitchen can detract from the value of a home, even if the rest of the home is in good shape. It’s possible to recoup between 60 and 120 percent of your kitchen remodel investment, especially if the kitchen matches up well with the rest of your home. Homeowners should know that a deluxe renovation may not be necessary, as relatively moderate improvements can create a whole new look for a kitchen.

paint· Look to paint. One of the least expensive improvement materials, but one that has a significant impact, is paint. Neutral, modern colors can easily liven up any space. If you paint with low-VOC paint, you also can advertise an eco-friendly home, which is very desireable these days.

· Put in another bathroom. Multiple bathrooms are an attractive selling point, particularly in older homes that may not have been equipped with more than one bathroom. Finding extra space for a bathroom can be tricky, but consider closets, areas under stairs or even taking some space away from another room. Popular home-improvement television channel HGTV advises that half-bathrooms require at least 18 square feet of space, while full baths need 30 to 35 square feet for a stand-up shower or bathtub.

· Renovate the HVAC system. Aesthetic improvements aren’t the only ones that add value to a home. Many home buyers are eager to purchase a home that has a new heating and cooling system, as buyers understand that furnaces and air conditioning units are substantial investments that can last for years. Other improvements, such as adding attic insulation or replacing older windows and doors with more energy efficient options, also are smart bets.lamp

· Add illumination to rooms. A dark home is a dreary home. Adding light can mean including more overhead and accent lighting. Under-cabinet task lighting is a nice touch. Inclusion of skylights and sun tubes can bring natural light into rooms that may not have south- or west-facing windows.

· Put a deck addition outdoors. Outdoor living spaces have become more desireable, especially as the “staycation” has grown in popularity. Decks and patios can make backyards more appealing. The scope of your investment will depend on the size of the deck and design. Doing the work yourself can cut the cost of decks in half, but only if you have the specific tools or experience to tackle such a project.


· Improve curb appeal. Adding attractive landscaping and freshening up the entryway to a home can add considerable value to your home, as buyers judge homes by their exteriors. Completely renovated interiors may never be seen if buyers pass up your home because of a less attractive exterior. Classy, subtle changes, like well-placed shrubbery and a green lawn, can work wonders. An inviting front door and well-lit entryway also add curb appeal to a home.


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(This article contains excerpts from #SH152894)