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How to Remodel Historic Homes | Golden Rules of Restoration

Victorian-era houses or colonial-style residences are charming and can quickly become a center of attraction in a particular neighborhood if adequately maintained. However, restoring these types of properties can be challenging, often requiring deep pockets and patience. Fortunately, we’re going to show you how to remodel historic homes so that you can transform your house into a functional yet captivating space.


At Paragon Builders, we have more than a decade of experience remodeling houses across San Diego. Our team understands the complexities surrounding vintage properties and is here to guide you on how to remodel historic homes in this blog post.


Step-by-step Guide on How to Remodel Historic Homes


Victorian-era houses offer rich history and cultural heritage, making them much different from modern, contemporary living spaces. Remodeling historic homes is a unique experience that requires knowledge of the local laws and expertise in preserving important aspects of the property.


Here are the steps that you should follow if you wish to transform your “old” home while ensuring its charming characteristics:


Step 1: Set Your Goals


If you’ve purchased a historic home and are looking to remodel the entire or parts of the house, you must start by identifying your goals. What are you looking to achieve? Do you want to rent out the living spaces? Are you planning to restore the property?


By understanding your goals, you can easily communicate back and forth with a contractor and the city’s planning commissioner. Plus, you might even avail tax benefits depending on how you plan to use the historic home.

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Step 2: Determine the Status of Your Home


Your city’s local commissioner is responsible for determining whether or not a house is historic. Sometimes, old residences may not receive such a status, as they may not meet the criteria set by the relevant authorities.


On the other hand, the local commissioner can also grant historic status to a new house, especially if an event occurred or a high-profile individual was previously living there.


By identifying the status of your dwelling, you can determine whether you can remodel the house. In most cases, there is very little alteration you can do when it comes to historic homes.


Step 3: Preserve the Historic Documents


When a person purchases a house, previous owners may have left furniture, pictures, or documents behind. This could be the case with a historic home, which is why it’s crucial to go through the entire property to search for valuables and important paperwork.


In some cases, you may be unable to touch historic documents. If that is the case, it’s best to reach out to a skilled conservator for help.


Step 4: Contact an Architectural Historian


Sometimes, a historic home may have room additions that were added later on by the original property owners. Understanding the events in the house’s timeline can help determine your next move when planning to incorporate modern elements or restore the dwelling to its former glory.


An architectural historian can identify the changes made to the property over the course of its lifetime. This information can help you avoid ill-fated alterations to the house.


Step 5: Make the Home More Accessible


According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, you can make certain changes to your historic home to make it more accessible for the elderly or differently-abled guests.


To do that, you must adopt a three-step approach, which involves the following:


  • Reviewing the historical significance of the property and identifying its character-defining features;
  • Assessing the property’s existing level of accessibility and understanding your current needs; and
  • Evaluating the changes you can make while staying within the preservation context.

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Step 6: Upgrade the Building’s Safety, Functionality, and Efficiency


While historic homes look great, they may have outdated features, which could adversely impact the house’s safety, functionality, and efficiency.


Since it’s important to adhere to the local laws and the city’s building codes, you should consider hiring an experienced contractor. They will ensure that your property is safe, functional, and efficient.


Step 7: Consult with a Reliable and Reputable Contractor


There are many aspects of a historic home that you must consider, including the state’s guidelines on restoring and preserving these types of properties, building and safety codes, and the laws pertaining to remodeling. These are all challenges that can be difficult to overcome without the help of a trustworthy and skilled contractor.

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Final Thoughts on How to Remodel Historic Homes


While this article goes through some of the essential steps involved in remodeling historic homes, it’s important to assess your skills and expertise before embarking on a DIY project. A wrong move could leave your vintage property in a bad state, adversely impacting your return on investment.


Call us at +1 (858) 336-8336 to schedule a consultation with our experienced contractors at Paragon Builders. We understand the local laws and building codes pertaining to historic homes and can help you restore the property while ensuring your needs are met!


Frequently Asked Questions

When remodeling historic homes, it’s essential to ensure that the wall coverings or paint complement the interior of the house.


Contacting a local heritage society is a great way to obtain vintage or replica wallpaper to upgrade the property while ensuring its historic look.

Remodeling involves digging on the property, which can expose residents to harmful materials, animal waste, or other dangerous elements. Therefore, it’s crucial for you and your family to make alternative living arrangements during the restoration and preservation of the historic home.

While many historic homeowners like to leave the interior as it is while making little alterations, some may want to revamp the look altogether. If you’re one of those people, here are a couple of things you can do to make the old living spaces feel new:


  • Choose a design and color palette
  • Create a new focal point in the room by replacing the furniture or large items
  • Repaint the walls to give it a fresh look
  • Swap out the hardware with something more modern
  • Invest in energy-efficient appliances
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Paragon Builders

Paragon Builders expertise includes all sizes of home projects. We take pride in building to the highest standards to enhance your home’s value.

+1 (858) 336-8336

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