Helpful Tips for Renovating an Older Home

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If you have an older home, you may be thinking about taking on several do-it-yourself projects to improve your living situation and increase the overall value of your property.  However, it is important to know which projects are valuable enough to outpace the cost of the projects themselves, as well as how the age of your home might affect your ability to follow the projects through to their completion.  Here are some ways you can tell whether your home is a good fit for a do-it-yourself project, as well as which projects are worthwhile whether you plan to sell your home or stay in it for years, and when it is more cost-effective to hire a professional.

Protect your home’s furnishings and antiques

Many older homes are decorated with antiques or delightful original furnishings that you don’t want to be damaged during the renovation, so before you begin any project, have a plan for your prized belongings.  Instead of awkwardly trying to work around them or moving them from room to room, ensure they are completely protected by putting them in a self-storage unit for the duration of the project.  The cost of a storage unit is likely far less than the cost of replacing your possessions or fixtures – for example, in Sequim, a 5×10 self-storage unit costs an average of $55.

Become familiar with your home’s structure

Before embarking on a DIY project, carefully go over the structure of your home.  You don’t want to make one of several costly mistakes, like accidentally removing a load-bearing wall or tampering with the plumbing.  While those kinds of mistakes are difficult to fix in new builds, the nature of older homes means that any mistake like that could send the project spiraling down a money pit.  Also, many older homes do not have extensive records of the construction of the house, making it difficult to tell which parts of the structure are critical and load-bearing, and which are not.  You may benefit from having your home pre-inspected by a qualified home inspector before you begin your projects, which costs $392 on average and can save you from making costly construction errors.  A home inspector can tell you how sturdy or fragile different elements of your house are, and which types of projects are advisable for you to attempt yourself.

Know how your home’s age will impact the project’s cost

Older homes often feature more brittle electrical cables and softened sheetrock, which can make renovation a challenge if you are not familiar with the effects of your home’s age.  The effects of age also mean that it becomes much easier to accidentally damage the original installations, which can be pricey to replace.  As such, you should favor caution over speed when renovating an old house. Due to this, if you ever feel uncertain about a task, even something as seemingly simple as installing a new faucet, call a professional.  Expert help can prevent you from causing hundreds or even thousands of extra dollars in damage to the house, and inconveniencing yourself in the process.  While making changes or additions to your bathroom and kitchen can be worthwhile investments, the projects can often require technical knowledge and care.

Even if you are experienced with do-it-yourself projects, you should still take a moment to study your older home before blindly jumping into your next project.  While even minor bathroom additions and kitchen upgrades can add value to your home, the plumbing, electrical, and engineering issues they present may be best left to a professional.

Blog content provided by:  Ray Flynn |,