6 Important Ideas For Remodeling Old Homes

Old homes can be a struggle to remodel. With decaying materials and old construction techniques, old homes require a bit more work and intuition to understand where common problems occur and what can be done.

Here are six tips for remodeling the essential parts of an old home.

#1 Improving Your Home’s Exterior

Your old home’s exterior is part of the unique charm that old homes possess. However, old building practices and period-specific materials may not be able to stand up to decades of being battered by the elements. You’ll want to inspect the exterior and look for any signs of degradation. If you do find a significant amount of damage, finding replacements may be difficult—or next to impossible. There’s also the problem of what’s underneath the exterior—perhaps a lack of insulating material that drains your home’s energy efficiency. In that case, you may need to replace the exterior and use insulated panel systems beneath for energy-efficiency, as well as resistance to pests and moisture.

#2 Choosing the Right Roofing Material

Old homes are susceptible to leaks through the roof. Older materials, like slate shingles, are notorious for cracking and sliding off, leaving your home exposed to rain and snow. Instead, you’ll want to choose a roofing material that stands up for decades to come. For this, you may want to use asphalt roll, composite shingle, wood shingle, standing seam metal, wood shake shingle (which has a lifespan of 35 – 40 years), clay tile, and other modern materials.

#3 Make Sure The Pipes Are Still Working

While the exterior and roof are easy to assess in an old home, the plumbing and drainage can prove a challenge—especially if you’re not very experienced in home repair. You’ll want to explore every water connection in your home, whether this is a bathroom, kitchen, sprinkler system, septic system, and so forth. There are a number of techniques associated with deducing where water might be leaking, including slow leaks measured by your water meter (any leakage will show up over a day which is measurable for most modern meters). You’ll want to look for clogs, as well—these can build up pressure and eventually burst, creating havoc in older homes.

#4 Assessing Insulation and Moisture Control

Older forms of insulation, like blown-in wool, may seem effective for keeping heat in, but they can be susceptible to a build up of moisture that can grow over the years. This can lead to mold growth and a weakening of older materials (like plaster). To assess whether your insulation is up to snuff, pay particular attention to cold spots and drafts throughout your home, which are classic signs of air leakages. If one spot or room is colder than others, you can be sure that you have an insulation problem. Modern thermometers and temperature readers can give you readings within seconds. Also, wall outlets can also prove to be drains on your home’s efficiency, where the surrounding areas around it isn’t insulated and contains gaps that flow through the holes in the outlet.

#5 Checking the Integrity of Structural Framing

The structural framing of your old home is probably the most important element. This includes the foundation, wall beams, and other methods used to keep your home together (known as low-rise, high-rise, and long-span). Look for signs of erosion, shifting, damage from moisture that expands and contracts as it freezes and unfreezes, rust, and damage from vermin. As you’ll see from the list from the International Association for Certified Home Inspectors, there’s a lot that goes into structural framing of an old home, so you may want to call in a professional inspector to ensure that your old home isn’t vulnerable to collapse—especially in earthquake-prone areas.

#6 Assessing The Flooring

Floors that have seen lots of use throughout the years can be a problem when it comes to deciding whether you should remodel or not. Chances are, if you feel that your floor is in need of replacing, then it’s time to replace. Check to ensure that floors are straight and level, as well as having no stains—a sign of water damage that can weaken the mater. Also, check for creeks, uneven surfaces, sloping, bowing, and cracks—these are signs that your floors are in need of immediate repair.

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