Tips for Renovating Old & Historic Houses

renovating an old house


When it comes to renovating a home, deciding what to renovate and how to go about it can be a tricky business. I’ve been lucky enough to have had my hand in many renovations over the years, but now that we own an old house in the historic district of our town, I’m learning even more about the challenges of bringing an older home back to life. Here are some things you should know when planning your renovation or repair project:

Check out historic renovations in your area.

If you want to renovate an old house, one of the first things you should do is find some examples of historic renovations in your area. This can give you a sense of what has been done and how others have tackled similar problems. You can also ask friends and family who have renovated old houses for advice.

If you’re feeling adventurous, why not visit the New Jersey Historical Society website? Hundreds of images show how people lived in past centuries—and they’re all available online for free!

Repair Before Replace

For example, if you have a door that is damaged, consider a new door rather than replacing the entire frame. This will allow you to match the existing style and materials while still getting the benefits of a newer door.

If possible, repair before replacing. For example, a leaking roof can be very expensive to replace; consider hiring a professional roofer like this deck repair in adelaide to repair any damage, as improper repairs can lead to further damage and costly repairs down the line.

You may need to get a permit or hire an architect for your renovation.

If you’re planning to renovate an old or historic house, you may need to get a permit from your city or town. If you plan on doing any work that touches on the exterior of the house—even something as small as painting it—you’ll likely need a permit. This is especially true if your property is in a historic district like Beacon Hill or Greenwich Village.

The good news is that it’s not difficult to get one; just check with your local government agency, and they’ll tell you what paperwork needs to be filed and when the work can start. You’ll also want to hire an architect if this is your first time renovating an old house; they know all the ins and outs of working around architectural details like plaster walls, ceiling beams, window frames, and more!

Seek Help from the Professionals

  • Check with the local government. Many cities and counties have regulations in place that can help you determine what renovations are allowed as well as which ones require a permit.
  • Contact historical societies and architects who specialize in historic preservation for advice on how to proceed with certain aspects of your home’s renovation without damaging its character too much—or destroying it completely! They may also have contacts who could refer some qualified contractors who’re experienced working on older homes like yours; this is especially important since most builders won’t even touch houses built before 1940 due to their high-risk factors.
  • Contact antique restoration Restoration services can help to restore antiques from all eras and styles. By using specialized techniques and materials, restoration experts can repair damage caused by time or wear-and-tear, while still preserving the original look of the item look at restoration in Sydney.

Pay Attention to the Roof & Exterior

A roof is the most important part of any house. It protects the interior from the elements, keeps it dry and warm, and keeps rain out of the basement.

You should inspect your roof regularly and remove the moss from your roof by hiring a roof moss removal service. If you have a curved or hipped roof, inspect for leaks around windows and doors. If your home has a flat roof or if there are signs that water is getting into your home through cracks in its walls or foundation — known as wet basements — consider having an experienced contractor install flashing around these areas to help keep water out.

Keep your house’s architectural integrity intact.

As part of your renovation, you’ll want to keep your house’s architectural integrity intact. When you buy an old home, it will probably have plenty of charm and character. The exterior may be made from stone or brick, which is beautiful but needs maintenance. If the interior has wood floors, they should stay wooden! Old houses can also have beautiful windows that add a lot of visual appeal—don’t cover them up with curtains or blinds!

If you’re renovating for resale purposes, it’s important to remember that buyers are looking for homes with unique personalities. They don’t want cookie-cutter houses that look like every other house on their street; they want something special and unique because this will make them feel more connected with their community.

Don’t skimp on the smart stuff.

If a smart home is on your wish list, there are a few things to consider before beginning the renovation process.

Smart thermostat: A smart thermostat can help you save money and energy by providing you with more control over your heating and cooling systems. You can also use it as an early warning system for when temperature levels in your house get too high or low, which could be useful if you have pets or small children who are prone to overheating or frostbite. Smart lighting: Lighting is another area where a little bit of automation goes a long way—especially when it comes to safety! Smart lights will automatically turn on whenever someone enters the room, which means no more tripping over furniture in the dark! And if you’re renovating an older house, all lighting fixtures must work properly without affecting occupancy comfort levels or causing fire hazards, so upgrading them with new LED bulbs makes sense too.

Keep the character of your home consistent throughout.

There are many things you can do to keep the character of your home consistent throughout, but all of them involve keeping the house’s style and character intact.

  • Don’t remove trim or lower walls unless it’s necessary for a renovation. For example, if you’re putting in new windows that are too tall for your current trim, add some boards to cover up those extra inches.
  • Keep similar colors throughout your home so it has a consistent look and feel. This means that all rooms should have color schemes that match each other (not just because they’re next door). If you need more guidance on this topic, try using Pantone’s color palette guidebook!

Retrofit double-paned windows into existing window frames.

Double-paned windows are a great way to keep your home’s energy use low, but they can be difficult to retrofit into existing window frames. If you want to do it yourself, here’s how:

  • Get the right kind of glass. The most common type of glass used in historic homes is called tempered or safety glass—it’s strong enough so that if it breaks, it will break into small pieces instead of shards that can injure people or animals. Newer homes often have heat-strengthened (or “tempered”) safety glass, which has better impact strength than standard safety glass and is usually available in larger sizes suitable for exterior applications like windows and doors.
  • Secure the new pane in place with hardware appropriate for the style of your house—brass or cast iron fittings work well with older homes; bronze gutters are also common on these types of properties

Can you think outside the box and convert an old shed?

A shed is a small building that can be used to store garden tools and other items. Old sheds can make a great addition to your yard if you decide to renovate them and turn them into something more useful.

Anyone who has an old shed or garage on their property to convert needs to think outside the box. Here are some tips for renovating old sheds:

  • Consider how much time and money you want to spend on this project. If it’s going to take a lot of time and money, it may not be worth doing at all!
  • Make sure that whatever structure you’re putting inside is going to fit! You don’t want something like an antique car breaking through because there was no way for it not to!

Be aware of the possible important considerations and expectations that come with renovating a home, whether it is old or new.

  • Be aware of the possible important considerations and expectations that come with renovating a home, whether it is old or new.
  • Understand the costs associated with renovating an older home. The cost of upgrading or repairing a historic home may be higher than for a newer house because older homes often require more expensive materials to ensure safety and energy efficiency.
  • Know what restrictions exist on your property. If you plan to demolish any part of your home, such as removing walls or floors, check with your local government body first to determine if you need approval before starting work on that area. For example, some cities have ordinances prohibiting owners from removing original walls due to historical significance or aesthetic beauty; some communities may require homeowners who wish to make large changes (such as tearing down an entire structure) to obtain approval from neighbors before doing so; others may prohibit certain construction techniques altogether (e.g., rebuilding without using cement).
  • Expectations from the community might also affect how you choose which renovations make sense in terms of cost-effectiveness versus aesthetics versus functionality


While renovating an old house can be a daunting process, it’s also a big opportunity to make your home more beautiful, functional, and energy-efficient. With the right planning and attention to detail, you will be able to preserve its historic character while making it better suited for your needs.

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About the Author: John Watson

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