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Older homes are full of charm and plenty of memories. But renovating an older home can also involve many challenges.

Go into the renovation with your eyes wide open. Read up on renovation tips for older homes, potential “gotcha” moments, and mistakes to avoid, like the five we’re listing below.

1. Not being mindful about which materials to keep. Sometimes replacing materials sounds so much easier than working with the originals (and, in reality, sometimes it is easier). But an old home’s charm—that thing that makes it special—is often the original materials that the builders of yesteryear chose for that particular house. This is especially true for historic homes.

For example, the artistry of the woodwork from the eighteenth, nineteenth, and even early twentieth centuries is unparalleled. Ideally, you’ll want to save as much of the original woodwork as possible. Think moldings, baseboards, casings, paneling, and so forth. Yes, the restoration effort could take longer, but the results will be worth it.

2. Not thinking about the big picture. When it comes to renovating an older home, it’s tempting to become hyper-focused on a specific area or “thing” (such as a staircase). But at the end of the day, you need to keep the whole house in mind.

An old house has history. It has a story. Your job when renovating is to think about the elements of this history and story you want to preserve while adding on a new chapter that represents the “now” and the future.

This is why it can be extremely beneficial to work with a design/build firm that specializes in renovating older homes. The firm will have the necessary distance to see the big picture, and it can remind you to take a step back and keep the whole home in mind.

3. Not considering the future. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the temptation to be too authentic and true to the original home. Yes, preserving the home’s history and charm is important, but you also need to be able to live comfortably in the home today . . . and tomorrow.

If the old home is your “forever” home (perhaps passed down to you from another generation), there’s no shame in adding modern amenities or even incorporating elements of universal design. Again, working with a professional design/build firm can help make sure whatever new elements you add will work seamlessly with the old.

4. Not paying attention to restrictions on what you can and can’t remodel. If your home has been labeled an historic site by your town or state, you might be restricted on what you can and can’t remodel due to this historical designation (and, admittedly, some of the restrictions can be confusing). If you ignore these restrictions when you renovate, you do so at your own peril.

5. Not being patient. Renovating an older home takes time. It’s important to be patient with your builder or yourself if you’re doing it on your own. For example, removing decades’ worth of paint requires a gentle touch. Rushing through it will only leave you frustrated with the results.

At Cottage Industries, we love renovating older homes and historic homes. If you have an older home, but you don’t know where to start when it comes to remodeling, get in touch with us. We’d love to sit down with you and have a conversation.

Case Study Historic Addition

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