One of the challenges we face with our projects is updating older properties with today’s styles and technology while maintaining the beauty of the original building. We love older architecture and design and are enthusiastic each time we are approached to remodel a home from a previous decade. It allows us to work with some design features we don’t always have an opportunity to use. We love old woods, lofty ceilings and gothic design most of all.
Besides the potential for asbestos, mold, lead based paints and settlement – older homes tend to have shifted, so they may not be straight or level anymore. We have had challenges getting items placed, such as cabinets, and having sloped ceilings so we couldn’t go as high as we would have liked with them.
For some homes there may have been over 15 times they painted a room, and we have that many layers of paint to try to work with. We try to match colors with existing mortar or other original materials when possible. Plaster in ages past, for example, would be made with whatever materials were handy, including sand from your yard, but in today’s market there is a refined sand that is used almost exclusively. Matching the texture can be tricky and matching patterns with what was done decades ago can be an issue as well.
In older buildings we sometimes need to work with or replace older wiring and plumbing fixtures to meet code or aesthetic needs. We need to always be mindful of current electrical needs with smarter energy appliances, more outlets, and energy efficient lighting options. Also there may be newer pipe requirements, depending on the age of the home.
Aesthetic drives the designer parts of us but we need to stay within code for local and federal jurisdictions as well as historic restrictions so that we can pass inspection and not anger any neighbors. This takes some doing on occasion, but we pride ourselves on getting the job done to the inspectors requirements and still with a pleasant look and feel.
Check out this blog we found on McClurg talking about some of the same things we deal with regularly.
Overall we still love working with older homes, but it’s important to remember they bring their own set of challenges.
Written by Jamez Ronald Prudlick