In this era of HGTV love, many of us have sat on the couch with stars in our eyes wanting to be the next Joanna Gaines. Seeing old, out of date homes brought back to life and better than ever if such a dreamy concept and truly something that is alluring to many of us. I read a post from a friend earlier today that was she was sitting on the couch, nursing her newborn, being climbed all over by a toddler like a jungle gym, watching HGTV and turned to ask her husband (in all seriousness) if the wall to her right was load-bearing. We all love to dream. I also think as military spouses we often have to move into a less than desirable house and make it a home very quickly. After years and years of doing that, I see prior military families buying up old homes to fix them up all the time. Something about our life preparation seems to make us uniquely qualified for the job. I am not sure if it’s the constant redecorating of even the ugliest of base homes or the ability to handle insane amounts of pressure with virtual ease but no matter what makes us this way, we totally rock at most everything, right!?! …Especially home renovations! What? Too bold? I am only half-kidding.
Here are some of the best tips we have complied together just in case you are looking to be one of the many taking on an old home renovation in the future.
First of all, study the era the home was originally built in. There is nothing worse than seeing a gorgeous Victorian home complete with exterior details galore only to walk inside and find it lacks all of the original charm. Decide early-on in the project what original features you want to highlight and what might be best to “hide” or change out. Make it your mission to save as much of the original home as you can and have a plan to update the rest into a modern version of those old bones. In order to maximize your dollar in resell, know and respect the original feel of the home and the time period from which it comes and be prepared to choose modern touches that compliment the feel of the original.
Just because we want to keep everything original to the house that we can does not mean we need to keep a rusty old stove that barely works or that we need to forgo indoor plumbing. Just simply understand where you can put in the upgrades without losing the charm. These days people expect upgraded kitchens and bathrooms. Those are great places to weave in modern conveniences and make those rooms showstoppers. When looking for great “bang for your buck” upgrades, trading out old, dated light fixtures will do the trick in a heartbeat while simply cleaning off and restoring some of the old hardware like doorknobs is a perfect balance.
There are some things to be aware of when seeking out an old home to renovate. Make certain you do not skip over any inspections to save a buck or two. Those inspections could be what saves you thousands! Focus on the roof, foundation, electrical and plumbing. If anything is wrong in those areas, which likely will be the case with at least one of them on a really old home, get quotes so you know what to expect budget-wise. There are plenty of places to save money in a renovation but those are definitely not the places to try to skimp.
Another place that can get very costly is replacing drafty, very worn or broken windows! Replacing a house full of windows will definitely make its mark on your budget, but neglecting the windows could cost you way more in the long run. Keep in mind that being able to save the wavy, old, original glass is preferable because it is almost impossible to duplicate. This is not an area to just wing it. Inspect it well, get an expert opinion and hopefully you will be able to add some weather stripping and some save cash and original charm.
There will be things that pop up along the way that no one saw being thrown your way but it is all a process. It will take longer than you think, likely cost more than you budgeted but it will also far exceed your imaginations if you take the time to do it right the first time. Many thousands have been spent re-doing work when a shortcut has been taken.
The quickest way to get off track is to start without a plan. Define your objectives. Write them down and prioritize them. Make certain you know where you are going with this remodel in order to be able to drive the project in the quickest, most seamlessly manner possible.
Don’t forget about the exterior of the home. So many renovations take place on the inside of the home that it is easy to forget or run out of money before you make it to the outside. Plan ahead so that you can beautify the outside to match the gorgeous interior!
In the end, renovating an old home sounds so dreamy but it is a huge undertaking that can get big and expensive very fast. It is unpredictable by nature, maybe that is what makes it so fun, so challenging and so enchanting. Get organized, be realistic, define your budget but be prepared to flex (sounds like an oxymoron but its true – experts say to have a contingency in your budget of an extra 20%), get multiple quotes, use people you trust, budget in the plans and permitting costs and ask yourself if it is worth it. If the answer is yes, roll up your sleeves and have a blast creating a one-of-a-kind dream home!