renovating a vintage home
Home Improvement

Vintage Finds: How to Renovate a 100-Year-Old Home

Buying an older home to renovate can be a great way to save money, but you have to know what you’re doing to get it right while staying under your budget.

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Renovating a Vintage Home Takes Planning and Perseverance

Buying a vintage home that needs repairs and updates can be a great way to save money and end up with far more home than you could have afforded in the first place. But home renovation is not for the faint of heart. It takes plenty of perseverance and careful planning to renovate a 100-year-old-home.

If you can stay the course and are willing to pick up some new skills while you get your hands dirty, renovating an older house can have major rewards. Not only could you end up with a beautiful, yet livable and unique home, but your resale value could also go through the roof. Here’s what you need to know before you take on a serious vintage home renovation project.

renovate a 100-year-old vintage home

The Design Phase

It may be tempting to pick up a crowbar and start ripping out the walls you don’t like and whatever unfortunate remodeling choices the previous owners made the minute you sign the papers. Resist this temptation. Realizing a beautiful vision requires having that vision in the first place.

Take the time to plan what you want your finished space to look like. Consult with experts regarding the structural integrity of your house and its existing features. What may at first seem like an unnecessary wall or a poorly placed fixture may turn out to be worth preserving, or it may actually be needed to hold up the second floor.

The Demolition, Restoration, and Repair Phase(s)

When you’re ready to get started, assemble your tools and whomever you can get to help you. Demolition is hard and messy work, so you’ll need all the help you can get. Make sure that you’ve protected everything that will be left behind as best you can and that you have a plan to dispose of the debris. Be sure to call ahead to the local dump to see what materials they will and won’t accept, and that you ensure proper removal and disposal of any hazardous materials.

Once everything that must go is gone, and you’re finished cleaning up after the demolition party, you’re ready to get to work on repairing and restoring what’s left. The Internet is a great resource for articles that provide tips on restoration and maintenance of vintage homes.

renovate a 100-year-old home

The Tasteful Updates Phase

Once you’ve completed demolition, and repaired and restored what remains of the original house, you’ll be free to begin incorporating your planned upgrades. Any plumbing and electrical work that needs updating to support contemporary fixtures like a whirlpool bath or items like home theater wiring should be installed at this point.

This is also the perfect time to begin fixture and appliance shopping. Keep in mind that you’ll want your new appointments to compliment the finished look of your remodeled vintage home.

Thankfully, these days they make completely up-to-date, high-efficiency appliances and fixtures that fit in with the look of older homes. Consumer Reports has a great article posted on the best places to go looking for materials for your home renovation.

“The Devil Is in the Details” Phase

Lastly, you’ll be moving into providing your remodeled home with the finishing touches it will need to feel both restored and re-imagined for contemporary living. Choosing furniture and decorations that will compliment the period of the home while fitting your style and lifestyle may be the hardest phase of the project, depending on your decorating sense.

Don’t be afraid, as with any of the preceding phases, to seek help – as always, the Internet is a great source of articles on do-it-yourself design. And, professional decorating help may be far less expensive than you think.

vintage restoration renovate a 100-year-old home

Carefully Consider What You’re Signing Up For

Maybe you don’t want to live in a newer home that looks and feels like all the others in the neighborhood. Well, according to US News and World Report, the one thing that all older homes have in common is that they all have issues. Renovating an older home will bring you into close, personal contact with those issues. But, if you plan carefully and stay the course, your dream home can materialize in time.

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Ben is a real estate agent and freelance writer. He's lived on the east coast his entire life and is just as "at home" on a snowboard as he is in the office. When not writing about local real estate markets and researching hot new tips for homeowners, he can be found working on his home renovation projects with help from his wife Melissa and their kids, Josh and Cheyenne.

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