Try not to dive right into a major remodel right away, taking on an old run down house with a million problems may not be the best first project. In fact, a first house that needs little more than a fresh coat of paint is much more advisable. Always ask yourself ‘Do I have the time or the money?’ if you don’t have either one of these it may not make the most sense. Having said that, if you’re handy, have the patience, and the project is within your budget, then dive right in! If this isn’t your first project and you’re a seasoned vet, then take advantage and try to score a great deal on an old house.
There’s no bigger mistake then assuming that there’s a one-size-fits-all solution to your rehab project. Do your research on the contractors and trades you will use, do they work on the type/era home you have? If you buy a house from 1910, make sure you’re working with a plumber who is an expert in old plumbing. Finding the right team is essential to getting the the job done right, on time, and on budget.
In an ideal world, all fixer-uppers would come stocked with plenty of original architectural detail. Sadly, many older homes have been subdivided or stripped of much of their character. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be put back! If you dig deep enough, you’ll find clues as to how the home might once have looked. “Almost every single project I’ve dealt with has been robbed of its integrity and that’s why I take it on… because no one else would spend the time or money to put things back into place.” Nicole advises to “look for one detail that’s still there. A lot of times it’s just one piece of original trim. I could match that!”
“Even though I’ve gone into houses in which people have done open floor plans and taken out walls, I dig for original blueprints. I go scouring through neighbors’ houses. I figure out where the walls used to lay and then I rebuild them.” She adds, “it’s not as hard you think.”
In most cases, what you’ll find in an old house was custom made to fit that particular house, so custom replacements will usually offer the most authentic look. If you find the right resource, you can get custom parts created and it doesn’t have to be expensive. These will no doubt cater to whatever the look is that you’re going for, and don’t have to be more expensive than stock replacements.
Make sure you aren’t giving yourself extra work by quickly jumping to the conclusion that you should replace everything you see that you don’t like. If you go and rip out an old door, odd are that you’ll spend two days screaming and hollering trying to fit a new door in an old space. Nothing fits an old house like its original parts, so think about what you may be getting into before removing them. Old houses settle and shift over time, and their custom-made parts have grown right along with them.