For years, you have dreamed of buying a historic home — one that is chock-full of turn-of-the-century charm and a sense of history when you walk through the front door. Recently, your goal became reality when you closed on an older home in a great neighborhood.
As you probably now know, buying an old home often means getting a fixer upper. But that’s okay — you are determined to bring your historic house back to its original glory, complete with working pocket doors, gleaming hardwood floors and refinished built-in cabinets.
If you are feeling stressed out by all the work ahead of you, don’t worry; the following tips can bring your old beauty back to life without losing your sanity.
Start with the Windows, Roof and Mortar
You might love nothing more than to scrape off decades of paint from the built-in china cabinets in your formal dining room, but it’s advised to start with the practical and potentially serious issues first. Address areas like the roof, windows and any damaged masonry so you can rest assured that your home’s structure is in great shape and will not be further damaged over time. Check the chimney and fireplace for old mortar by tapping on it with your fingers to see if it easily chips away or falls out. Call in professionals to assess the roof and windows, and repair anything that is broken, sagging or leaking.
Next, Move onto the Really Messy Work
Unless you can afford to live in a hotel while you’re renovating, you will most likely live in your house while it’s being remodeled. Consider doing the demo on all common spaces that you want to restore first so you get all the dusty, dirty and loud parts over with. This will also help to cut down on how much laundry you’re doing trying to get the plaster dust under control. From there, fix up high-traffic rooms, like the bathroom, until the demo’ed area is complete.
To be sure you stay on budget, it is important to do some research to learn the cost of bathroom remodel projects in your area. Save money by looking at local salvaging companies for that claw-foot tub you have your heart set on, and considering doing some of the work, like the painting and tiling, on your own.
Embrace Its Eccentricities
When deciding what to restore and what to leave alone, give yourself permission to skip certain projects. After all, historic homes tend to have plenty of funky quirks that add to their appeal. Instead of spending thousands of dollars to have the squeaky old hardwood floors firmed up, have them professionally refinished, and embrace the chance to make a little noise when walking across the room. By leaving the eccentric-yet-safe features of your historic home alone, you can focus your on the projects that truly need doing.
If your historic home feels like a massive pachyderm right now, remind yourself that patience, prioritization, a modest budget and plenty of time will go a long way in bringing your house back to its original beauty.