Published On: November 7, 2022Categories: Article

Preserving The History Of Older Homes: A Brief Overview

82% of Millennials said they’re more likely to buy a fixer-upper than a newly built home, according to Bank of America Research’s sixth annual home improvement survey, which polled over 1,100 people. From vintage jewelry to old fishing tackle, you’ll find just the gifts for vintage lovers you’re looking for at any of our Brass Armadillo Antique Mall locations. While fixing up and preserving an old, historic home is already a daunting task, those who buy older homes may not know where to even begin, especially when the overall goal is to preserve antique aspects of the home. From the popularity of buying cheap old homes to how one can go about the endeavor successfully — and avoid mistakes along the way — here’s what you should know before diving in.

The Popularity of Investing in Older Homes

Home prices rose by 24% between November 2019 and November 2021, according to research from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. However, buying cheaper, older homes that need fixing up can make homeownership a more attainable feat, and it’s not a new trend, either. One 2019 article from The Cut, for instance, highlights the Instagram account Cheap Old Houses. The account, which is devoted to sharing cheap homes for sale, entices followers with older homes that are full of antique features and plenty of potential.

“Buying the house was a pretty easy decision. It had original shiplap and walnut floors harvested from the land, an old cast-iron tub, an old well pump that you have to crank to use — you rarely see working ones anymore,” notes Jessica Phillips, who purchased an antique home in Bergton, Virginia, for a modest $70,000. With renovation costs adding up to $16,000 at the time that The Cut’s article was posted, Phillips further goes on to say that the renovations didn’t cost much because the foundation was in good shape, as well as the roof and the floors. However, for those who invest in older homes that require a significant amount of work, properly restoring antique features can be a daunting endeavor on its own.

Restoration and Replication

When looking to preserve a historic home and its antique features, restoring what’s present can be a great option when looking to preserve history. One House Beautiful article points out that historic homes often have durable, high-quality building materials such as oak or cypress. The article notes that even worn-looking elements can often be restored and missing pieces can be fabricated to match based on still-intact parts. Replicating antique features is an option worth considering, especially when restoration isn’t an option. However, this doesn’t mean that the integrity of the home has to be compromised in the process, as maintaining the home’s style can still be achieved, even if the replacement isn’t of the same time period. For example, when looking to fix up an antique tile that is  unsalvageable, looking for tile with a similar pattern, colors, and style can offer a worthy solution.

Preserving History While Adding Modern Features

Ensuring that the history of the home is preserved while incorporating newer features can also be tricky, though it is possible. One good example of this is a fully restored 1856 house in downtown Napa, California, which was restored by local Napan Karen Wesson, who bought the home as an investment property in 2015. The restoration included the addition of historically appropriate old lighting fixtures and switches, and architectural features that include shiplap siding, among many others. However, the house also features modernized touches, like updated bathrooms and a new kitchen. Whether you’re restoring an old Florida beach house or investing in fixing up a Victorian style Californian home, restoring the home’s features while incorporating modern touches is a great way to keep the history alive while adding subtle updates where they’re needed.

For those looking to buy and preserve an older, historic home and add modern features along the way —  and who happen to be in a homeowner’s association (HOA) community — it may be worth looking into whether or not the HOA will cover any of the costs associated with your renovations. Understanding what your HOA fees cover is just one place to start. For HOA homeowners in Florida, for example, HOA fees typically cover aspects such as common area maintenance, gate maintenance and repairs, and insurance, to name just a few. While doing work on the home will likely require approval from the association, the HOA may cover costs of work that affects outdoor areas. For instance, in a major kitchen remodel scenario, the HOA may cover the plumbing and electrical work that affects outdoor areas, while the homeowner will typically pay for everything else.

The Additional Considerations of Historical Properties

Restoring an antique home can be a lengthy process, and may involve various paperwork, permits, and approvals, especially if the home is historical, so it’s important to do extensive research before jumping in.  For instance, renovations to houses in historic areas must first gain approval from local architectural review boards. This may require the use of more expensive, true-to-era materials. This is an important consideration for those looking to invest in and restore historical properties, as doing so will likely involve high costs in order to properly preserve the home and its history.

Carrying out work on historical homes also typically requires approval through the proper channels. In Long Beach, California, for instance, it’s noted that any exterior changes to a historic property located within a historic district must be approved through a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) before starting work, even if a building permit is not required. Similarly, in Miami, Florida, the city requires a COA for any work on historic properties as well, even for smaller projects, like working on windows.

Buying an older home that requires fixing up presents a great way for people to realize their dreams of becoming a homeowner. However, for those who wish to restore and preserve an older home, whether it be historical or not, doing your research is imperative when it comes to going about a project the right way.

Guest Blog provided by:
Jacqueline Gilbert