By Kara Masterson
Many homes are bought and sold every year—and a good chunk of them are newly constructed. However, an even larger number of existing homes are sold every year. In 2017, about 5.51 million existing houses were sold.
Not all of these homes are just a few years old, either. Some are decades or even a century old. Historic homes can be magnificent structures, and there are many reasons to purchase one even as new homes are constructed elsewhere.
What should you do if you buy a historic home? Here are three routes you can go down should you choose to take the historic homeownership dive:
One obvious choice when buying a vintage property is to renovate it. In this context, that means to update the home to bring it up to modern standards in terms of aesthetics and functional features; this can include work on both the interior and exterior. You may want to, for example, upgrade the siding to newer, more versatile choices like vinyl, stone or fiber cement.
You may also want to take steps to update the interior, such as installing new flooring, painting the walls, converting rooms for new purposes, and installing more modern fixtures and appliances. This can be a lot of work with an older house, so contracting the job to a company that focuses on historic home renovation can be key. Some older homes relied on lamps in shared living spaces and aren't really lit the way we're used to in contemporary homes. If the home seems dark, that may be why. Try adding in some new lighting and enough power outlets for today's demands.
A second choice is to restore the home. This means to revert it back to its original condition as closely as possible. If your home has real historic significance or was built in a striking vintage style, this is probably the best choice. Why destroy something beautiful by changing it when you could restore it to its former glory?
Historic home restorations require experts with extensive knowledge of historic architecture and the skillset to recreate classic interior and exterior design in the modern era. This can become expensive very quickly, but the results can be eye-popping, transporting you to another time period.
If you're spending the resources to have the beauty of vintage architecture up to today's standards, you should consider getting an interior designer. Your average furniture store is not going to have furniture that fits the historic styles you're looking for. There are more niche or vintage stores now that have furniture that could fit with your restoration.
A Combined Approach
Say you find a beautiful historic home in Hudson Valley, N.Y. You may love the historic features of the property, but don't want to live in the past, either. In this case, it's best to find a compromise between renovation and restoration. Bring your home up to modern standards in regards to home systems like plumbing and appliances; however, keep the most striking and historic features of the home intact, like the crown molding or sweeping staircase.
When working with a historic property, you want to use a custom homebuilder with experience in renovation. These professionals will give you the best of both worlds: You get to preserve what you want and update as you wish. Have them focus on keeping the best of the past while adding today's comforts.
Older home renovations and/or restorations can take a ton of work. Still, the results of that effort can be truly incredible. If you buy a historic home, consider the three options above. Choose the one that best meets your needs, as well as your wishes for a dream home!
Kara Masterson is a freelance writer from Utah covering Fein Construction for the custom homebuilder industry. She enjoys playing tennis and spending time with her family.