Remodeling Your Period Home? Here Are 4 Things to Consider

exterior of a house

The charm of a period home is undeniable. Maybe that’s because you feel like you’re inside a time capsule, walking the same halls as past residents. Or maybe it’s a combination of unique style and location in a great neighborhood.

Because of their age, period homes will likely need to be remodeled at some point. While you are curating a piece of the past when you remodel, you are also making a home that reflects your design sensibilities and meets your household needs. As you create your home remodeling plan, think about these four things to strike a balance between your home’s past and your present life there.

1. Your Property’s History

Understanding your house’s past lives can enhance your connection to the home. It can also provide guidance about the kinds of remodeling projects that may be off the table, like whether you can add an underground garage. Researching these topics will help you determine your next steps: 

  • Topographical history of your property 
  • Who designed and who constructed your house
  • When your house was built
  • The style and period in which your house was built  
  • Popular home trends from that era

When you have this information, you will be able to identify the elements to preserve, like period light fixtures or crown molding. You’ll also find changes that you can make to highlight the period style, such as adding wallpaper or certain paint colors. Depending on the age of your home, you may see the effects of past remodeling efforts. If you notice that there are details that do not match the period style, you can remove or update them to restore a more authentic atmosphere.

During your research, you may also discover that your home’s architect or builder was an important figure in the design of your city or state. Even if that’s not the case, it’s a good idea to contact your state’s historic preservation office to see if your home is listed as a historic property. Homes and neighborhoods that are designated as historic have special rules about property remodeling and preservation responsibilities.

2. Health and Safety

It’s also important to take stock of the needs of your household members when it comes to living arrangements. Old homes are notorious for containing allergens like mold, dust, and pollen due to leaks, drafts, foundation issues, and old ventilation systems. You can have a professional perform an air quality test to let you know about trouble areas in your home. Though installing a new HVAC system, replacing the roof or fixing issues with your home’s foundation may not be as exciting as getting new bathroom fixtures, these updates are vital to ensure the health of your home and household. 

Other health and safety concerns for older homes include:

  • Condition of stairways and railings
  • Outdated electrical systems or wiring
  • Asbestos
  • Lead paint
  • Radon
  • Pest control

Along with health and safety, it is also important to consider the comfort of your household members and the environmental impact of your home. Updating house technology can often both make your home more livable and reduce your energy bills. If you add solar panels or eco-friendly water systems, you’ll also ensure that your home is contributing to a healthier future. 

3. The Element of Surprise

With old homes, the chance that your remodeling project will need to expand or recalibrate is much greater than it is for new homes. So it is important that you hire a seasoned home remodeling professional with experience working in houses from your home’s period. Also, when your home remodel team is skilled at identifying period details such as authentic period baseboards or flooring, they may be able to preserve and reinstall them as part of the remodel.

It is more likely, however, that you will find additional issues with your home that require immediate action, such as degraded building materials or prior updates that were not made to code. You can prepare for such surprises by securing funds to cover for potential shifts in your home remodeling project. Check-in with neighbors and other people who have recently remodeled homes from your period to learn about potential issues and plan a financial buffer for your project.      

4. The Big Picture

The conventional wisdom for home remodeling is sometimes at odds with the realities for period homes, which can make it difficult to get a clear picture of the best practices for period home remodeling projects. While some home experts caution about changes to the floor plan in a period home, other period home advice says not to be afraid to take down walls because the flow of modern households is different from that of earlier eras. So which one is the best practice?

Even if the advice isn’t clear, your goals can be. Identify both the financial and emotional costs and benefits of your period home remodel. You may be comfortable spending on updates that do not have a financial return on investment because you are passionate about preservation and history. On the other hand, if you like the aesthetic of a period style but the costs to renovate an old home are more than those to rebuild, it might make more sense to find a custom home builder that can rebuild a new period-style home on your property.

Whatever decisions you make about your Austin home remodeling project, Mangum Builders will work for you. You can trust that we will give you honest feedback about your period remodel wishes and costs, based on years of work experience on historic and new period-style homes. 

With extensive expertise as custom home builders in Austin, we co-create plans with our clients to make their dreams a reality. Contact us to learn more about our approach to period home remodeling in Austin, TX.