Seven Things To Remember When Renovating A Historic Home

If you’re a fan of old homes, it might be your dream to renovate and live in one someday. Charleston is filled with many beautiful, old homes and Renew Urban is proud to have worked on many of them. However, these projects are not like your everyday home makeovers. From our own personal experience with historic renovations in Charleston, the older the home is, the more complexities it can contain. As such, it’s important to keep these seven things in mind when working on a historic home.

1. Determine What You Desire From The Remodeling Process

Before you begin your historic remodeling project, it’s vital to ask yourself what kind of home do you want out of the process. Do you want an authentic remodel? Do you want to renovate an old building and add modern day amenities? Do you want an up-to-date kitchen but want to keep all the clawfoot tubs? By asking yourself what you personally desire, it will make the planning process a whole lot easier and it will leave you with the exact home you desire.

2. Do Your Research About Your Home’s Style

Before you begin any renovation work, it’s important to note down the design aspects of your home. This can include its style type, design elements that run throughout, finishing touches, and more. Once you identify the style elements of your home, it will be much easier to sit down and plan out how consistent you want your makeover to be with its original design. This way, you can end up with a notable remodel that’s authentic to its time or a project that combines modern day elements with heavy historical undertones. The decision is entirely up to you and doing proper research will help make the process easier for everyone involved. Also keep in mind, your home may have had an addition during one or more time periods, so different sections may have different style elements.

3. Keep As Much Original Material That Makes Your Home Unique

From our experience, many people choose to renovate a historic home in Charleston because the structural and design elements are often very intricate and unique. This is very hard to find nowadays. We’ve found that every older house has their own unique story and personality. Each design and style choice of the past helps give a glimpse of what life used to be like. As such, it’s important to maintain your home’s unique elements and keep its story alive. Doing so will reward you with the satisfaction of preserving a piece of piece of history….and that isn’t common anymore in today’s world. If you can’t save the original material, use reclaimed or time-period accurate ones. But if you can save and restore as much authentic material as possible, you’ll help retain the value of the past as well as the unique charm and individuality of your home.

4. Improve Your Home’s Safety

Whenever we work on historic renovations in Charleston, it’s required to update the home’s electrical wiring and plumbing to bring it up to modern day codes. This is true for many other areas as well. But don’t worry, in our experience, you can still maintain the home’s remarkable charm even with these modern systems in place. Many of these systems are installed ‘behind the scenes’ to ensure your home’s safety for you and future generations. It would be a shame to lose one of these beautiful homes to an electrical fire. Thus, it’s very important to not ignore this crucial aspect of historic remodeling.

5. Update Your Home’s Comfort

On several of our recent historic renovations in Charleston, we have found that many homes lack in the comfort aspect. Chilly and drafty rooms were common in the wintertime, and stuffy rooms were common in the summer. When you choose to remodel a historic home, don’t sacrifice your comfort for its authenticity. You can install new insulation, central heating, air conditioning, and new windows to make your home both comfortable and energy efficient. Again, all this work can be done ‘behind the scenes’ so that you will know and feel the difference, but can maintain the historic look of the home. Depending on how much you want to change, If you’re open to redesigning the original floor plan, you might also want to consider removing walls to open up cramped spaces. This can drastically improve your older home’s functionality and comfort.

6. Make Your Kitchen Match Its Original Design

In our experience with historical renovations in Charleston, kitchens tended to be remodeled more than other rooms. If you make the style of your kitchen blend in more with the rest of your older home’s makeover, you’ll retain more value in the long run. Of course, many people want modern day convenience and the kitchen is one of the best places for that. So in order to make your kitchen match with with the rest of your home’s remodel, try to keep some features from the original kitchen. Many of today’s ‘modern’ hardware, faucets and appliance designs have a ‘historic’ feel to them, and that can make picking these items all that much easier. As mentioned, much of your home’s interior gas, plumbing, and electrical lines will be replaced for safety reasons.

7. Hire The Right Team For The Job

This is perhaps the single most important thing to keep in mind for historic remodeling projects. Many contractors are simply unfamiliar with the amount of complexities that come with an old home, particularly in the Charleston area. Our historic homes can be from pre-revolutionary times, Antebellum times, and lots of other ‘times’ on the spectrum. During several of our own historic renovations, lots of new and unexpected factors suddenly came into play. Sudden changes in the design or reconstruction of your home can occur and should always be expected. Who knows what kinds of problems can be uncovered during the process. For example, older homes could be contaminated with mold, wood rot, structural damage, and more. With a new construction project, you don’t need to worry about these “passed down” issues.

However, choosing to undertake a historic home remodel doesn’t need to be stressful. If you find a team who specializes in these types of projects, you can remodel an old home without the headache that typically comes with it. Renew Urban, our own historic renovation company in Charleston, has historic preservationists and specialists on staff. By finding a company with these types of experts, they will be familiar with all the regulations that need to be met when restoring these buildings. Finding a team with an architect who specializes in historic preservation is also important because they’ll typically already have templates and plans for these types of projects. The more notable homes and buildings these specialists have worked on, the more you can be confident that they’ll be the right fit for the job.

Overall, choosing to renovate a historic home is not like remodeling a more modern home. When you keep these seven things in mind, you can prevent a magnitude of stress. Choose Renew Urban to be sure that your historic renovation will match your vision while remaining true to the roots and history of the amazing city of Charleston, South Carolina.