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8 Tips for Restoring an Old Home

by The Linda Frierdich Group - Century 21 Advantage

 

8 Tips for Restoring an Old Home

 

 

It’s hard to argue that old homes seem to be loaded with a unique character, and each one is different.  Older homes have a charm about them that is almost impossible to mimic with a newer home.  The draw to restore old homes comes from these principles, and they are well-founded.  Even those who prefer newer homes to live in can’t seem to resist the “Before and After” looks of an old home restoration.  That being said, the task of restoring an old home isn’t for everyone.  However, if it is something to which you would like to commit (after much careful and realistic consideration), these tips may prove themselves helpful.

 

 

Remember: Restore, not Replace

 

An older home is given its character by its unique features.  The high ceilings, the crown molding of the cabinetry, the old brass door handles, the windows that stretch almost to the floor.  Your goal is to update the necessities but maintain the integrity of the old home.  Rather than replace those old windows with newer, more energy-efficient ones, consider resealing the panes or installing efficient storm windows to the exterior of the window frame.  Rather than buying new, more tightly-fitting and tidy wood flooring, consider sanding and refinishing the original wood floors.  The goal of restoring an old home should be to honor the home’s structure and character, while modernizing it through decorating, appliances, and energy efficiency.  Additionally, original doors and windows mean a lot to an old home’s value. 

 

Don’t Give in to Fads

 

Open floor plans are wonderful.  It’s no wonder that they came into the scene with a wave of popularity and have maintained that status for a long time.  When buying an old home, it can be tempting to knock down walls to give that old home an open floor plan… However, despite their seemingly never-ending reign at the moment, their time, too, will pass.  Open floor plans didn’t exist in most older homes, and, therefore, they don’t really do a whole lot to maintain the integrity of the old home. A great alternative to completely changing the floor plan is widening doorways between rooms.  Here, you can utilize almost all of your home’s original framing while giving the flow of the home a lot more flexibility. 

 

Save the Flooring!

 

If at all possible, save the original hardwood flooring that you found under the carpet in the living room.  Yes, it’s old, discolored, and possibly damaged, but it can turn out beautifully.  Regardless of whether or not you plan on hiring a professional to restore the floors for you, you should still have one come for a consultation.  Old carpet backing often contained asbestos, and you want to be sure that you don’t have any on your floors before you begin sanding. 

 

Clean the Tile

 

Before you go all-out on tearing out that old tile, give it a really, really good scrubbing.  It can be easy to look at old tile and think:  A. WOW- Outdated, and B. GROSS- Very dirty.  However, with the right cleaning supplies,  you can get that old tile to shine again, and after looking at the refreshed tile for a week or so, you may be struck with an amazing idea for a beautiful restored room!

 

Keep the Cabinets

 

It can be tempting for those buying an older home to want to rip down the old cabinets in the kitchen and replace them with tidy, clean, and fresh newly-made substitutes.  However, the melamine and MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) cabinets that are readily available are not made to last in the long-term.  Your cabinets, however rough they may look now, were made to last for many years. Strip them, sand them, and refinish them.  The work put in will pay off exponentially. 

 

Keep Counters Authentic

 

If you plan on updating the counters in your kitchen or bathroom, stick to a material that was available in the period your home was built.  A Formica kitchen top will not have been in a home that was built in 1902.  By using materials that were available in the time your home was built, even if the material wasn’t originally used in the home, you are keeping the time frame cohesive throughout the home. 

 

Refinish Sinks and Tubs

 

Just like with everything mentioned on this list, these things lend an awful lot to the character of your old home.  There are many ways that you can modernize a bathroom while maintaining an original restored sink and tub. A new coat on porcelain might cost a few hundred dollars, but it will cost less than gutting your entire bathroom and having a new bath/shower installed.

 

Don’t Bite off More Than You Can Chew

 

The thought of restoring an old home can be enticing to many individuals, but before you jump in to that task, be sure to do your research and due diligence.  A home with a good solid structure and that requires mostly cosmetic updates, though still very time-consuming and difficult, is worth restoring much more than a home with foundation or pest issues.  Before signing the paperwork, it’s a good idea to consult some professionals to discuss what exactly would need to happen for the changes you are wanting to make.  From there, you can better assess whether or not that particular home is right for you.


Overall, the main thing that a Buyer should be concerned with when considering whether or not to Buy an old home is honesty to one's self.  A buyer needs to be aware enough to realize that a project rarely gets completed without hiccups, and that there is a lot of work and time invested when re-doing an old home.  If it is something that you decide you are capable of, just remember to have fun while doing it!

 

 

 

Checklist: What to Look for in an Open House

by The Linda Frierdich Real Estate Group

 

Checklist: What to Look for in an Open House

 

Open Houses are a great way to casually view a home, and given that they are (typically) beautifully staged, it can be easy to get wrapped up in the beauty of the home rather than focus on the state and quality of the home.  Here's a checklist of common things that you should be looking at when you go to an Open House, or go to a showing for any home, really.

 

 

Electrical Outlets

 

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    • Take your time walking through the rooms, and pay close attention to how many outlets each room has.  Use your current home as a point of reference as to whether or not you would need more outlets than this home has.  Adding outlets is possible, should you choose to Buy the home and find this a good option, but it is a big project that you should be okay with going into.  

 

Windows

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    • As you walk through the rooms, pay attention to the placement and view from the windows.  The more natural light flowing into a home, the better.  Are the windows situated in such a way that they would allow for a lot of light to pour into the home?  When you look out the windows, are you met by a lovely view of your neighborhood, or are you met with a view into the neighbor's home through their window?  These are things that will make a big difference in your every day life in the home.

Floors

 

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    • One thing you can do during the Open House is check the state of the floors.  Bring along a marble and set it on the floor of every room you walk into.  Does it move around and find low spots?  In older homes, a slightly off-level floor is somewhat expected, but a lumpy or unlevel floor can also be a warning sign of bigger issues in the house.  It's better to become aware of those issues before you move in.
    • Check the physical state of the flooring by peeking under rugs for signs of damage.  It's true, also, that the couch in the living room could be strategically placed over a big stain on the carpet or hardwood floors, but it's also possible that the area rug is hiding something, as well.  And, let's face it, it'd be a lot easier to lift the rug up to check for damage underneath than it would be to do the same under the couch.

 

Under Sinks

 

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    • Check in the cabinets under the sinks both in the kitchen and in any bathrooms.  Check for any signs of water damage that may have been caused by a leaky pipe or problem with the plumbing.  If you see a sign of damage, you will open up an opportunity to have your real estate agent check with the sellers to see what issues there have been with the plumbing, when they were remedied, and if there are any other issues that may arise. 

 

Appliances

 

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    • If any appliances are included in the sale of the house, check them while you are there.  Are they in good condition?  Try turning on the stove or oven to make sure that it seems to be in working condition.

 

Attic

 

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    • If the home has an attic, even if it is hard to get to, it's not a bad idea to take a peek inside.  For one thing, you can check for signs of pest infestation that can sometimes occur in attics.  For another, you can check to see how well the insulation is.  A well insulated attic makes a huge difference to the cost of utilities in Summer and Winter.

Outside the Home

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    • Check for any signs of cracking or separating on the bricks or foundation, because no one wants to have to deal with a home's cracking foundation.
    • Look at the gutters: Are they positioned in such a way that the drainage runs away from the home?  Exposure to water run-off from improper gutter installation can make for big issues with the home's foundation in the future.
Remember, the best way to prepare for the home-buying proccess is to hire a great real estate agent to help you along the way.  Buying a home is both exciting and terrifying, and having someone on your side who knows the ins and outs of the industry can lead to a huge weight being lifted off your shoulders.  You can call The Linda Frierdich Group - Century 21 Advantage any time to speak with someone about buying a home.

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The Linda Frierdich Real Estate Group
Century 21 Advantage
103 S Main St
Columbia IL 62236
IL: 618.281.7621

138 Concord Plaza Dr
Saint Louis MO 63128
MO: 314.649.0221
Fax: 618.281.4311

Linda Frierdich is the area's premier real estate professional, offering services in St Louis, Kirkwood, Webster Groves, Crestwood, Ballwin, Arnold, Fenton, Oakville, Columbia, Waterloo, Millstadt, Valmeyer, Dupo, Belleville, O'Fallon, Mascoutah, Fairview Heights, Smithton, Ruma, Hecker, New Athens, Edwardsville, Collinsville, Caseyville, Shiloh, Swansea, Monroe County, Madison County, St Clair County, and Randolph County.  Her team focuses on resale homes, new construction, first time home buyers, condos, farms, land sales, subdivisions, lot sales, single family, multi-family, commercial, foreclosures, bank owned property, military relocation, and building. This site offers options to search real estate in Columbia Illinois and other areas. We offer buyer and sellers services second to none!

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