Have you ever dreamed of remodeling a classic brick bungalow built in the 1920’s?
You are not alone.
In today’s modern world of Instagram and HGTV, historic homes are largely in the spotlight for their “good bones” and darling details. But what is actually involved in transforming these diamonds-in-the-rough?
Home renovations can be challenging under any set of circumstances. Many people immediately shy away from undertaking the task of renovating historic homes due to assumptions that renovating is harder and will cost more money. While that is sometimes the case, the reverse is also true.
Historic Homes Are Built-To-Last
Historic homes built by master craftsmen were built-to-last and sometimes renovating them is even cheaper than re-vamping a newer home!
Well, let’s start with materials: if you can re-use gorgeous hardwood floors and cast iron bathtubs, your cost of building materials goes way down. This means that instead of spending $8K-$10K on new flooring, you can spend $1K-$2K refinishing the existing floors to make them look brand new.
Let It Flow
Secondly, layouts are a really big deal, and by and large historic homes have the “flow” right from the get go.
What does that mean, exactly?
It means that the kitchen is in the right place, so it doesn’t need to be moved when renovating (thus: you save on the tremendous cost to re-plumb a kitchen when you move a sink, etc). People who renovate homes professionally call the layout the “footprint” of the home. The less you have to do to change a footprint (aka the more you keep kitchens, baths, and beds in their existing locations) the cheaper your home renovation is.
For comparison: take a 1980’s home with dropped ceilings, soffits, and lots of extra walls. A lot more structural work will need to be done to the “bones” of the house to make the “flow” right for a modern homeowner.
Wiring, Plumbing, and Pipes… Oh My!
A lot of people shy away from renovating historic homes because of fear around ancient wiring and plumbing. Let me just say that, if everything is already in the right spot, a re-wire and a plumbing update are relatively easy fixes that might cost a bit (the average re-wire is $5k), but you save in other areas, so it does even out.
Plumbing is the one thing to look closely into before purchasing a historic home to renovate. It was very typical 80-100 years ago to run sewer lines in cast iron pipes. Over time, these pipes have been known to deteriorate and usually need replacing.
An ideal time to replace these pipes (if needed) is before the historic wood floors are refinished. It is usually fairly easy to replace cast iron pipes if they are discovered before flooring is renovated. Also, you can typically negotiate the price to redo the pipes into the sales price of the home.
Keeping The History Alive
Overall, historic homes are really fun to renovate because no two are alike and they usually have charming details in spades. Renovating historic homes is gratifying because you are preserving a piece of history for another generation. When in doubt, jump on in! Historic homes were built to last!
Are you in the market for a home?
If you like what you read here, know that the experts at Tru Realty know their way around all types of homes. If you want to learn more, send me a note. I’d be glad to share my expertise with you to find the home of your dreams!
Sarah C. Richardson is one of the preeminent leaders of residential real estate in Arizona. As the CEO and founder of Tru Realty, she is responsible for both the daily operations and oversight of the multiple growth strategies that the brokerage carries out. Sarah launched Tru Realty in 2010 as a way to serve a marketplace that was seeing a shift from auction centric fix/flips to an MLS flow. She is now rethinking the way her brokerage uses technology to better serve clients and agents alike.