Guidelines for Revitalizing an Aging Home
Are you ready to remodel your aging home but aren’t sure where to start? After 68 years of collective experience in working with older homes, Acton ADU has learned how to control costs and maximize value by anticipating, uncovering and solving potential issues before they occur.
Here are just a few of examples of what we’ve learned over the years to guide you through a whole house remodel that results in a beautiful interpretation of your home—one that includes functional, stunning design solutions and seamless project management.
Start with a Plan
What is your motivation?
As you consider a complete interior renovation, know what is motivating you. Do you want to improve the flow and functionality of your home? Do you want to modernize the look and feel? Do you want to improve energy efficiency? Are you preparing for retirement with aging-in-place amenities? Whatever your need or desire, have a clear goal on what you want to accomplish with your remodel.
Where will you stay?
Since a whole house remodel is all-encompassing, it is highly likely that you will not be able to live in your home during all or part of the whole house remodeling project. Be sure to plan where you will stay while your home is being remodeled. Options may include staying with friends or relatives or even finding a short-term rental property for the duration of the remodel.
Who will you hire?
Unlike a small remodeling project, such as a bathroom or family room, a whole house remodel is more intricate and complicated. It is likely you will need expertise in interior design, carpentry, plumbing, HVAC, electrical, flooring, and kitchen and bath expertise, just to name a few. Be sure to explore working with a remodeling contractor who is experienced in performing whole house remodels. They should also be willing to give you client references to call.
Working with a full-service design build remodeling firm gives you the advantage of bringing both design and construction expertise to bear on all aspects of your home remodeling project. You are also given accurate construction costs and a realistic timeline right from the beginning. Be sure to research what type of remodeling contractor you’re going to be most comfortable working with.
Determine Your Budget
One of the pressing questions to ask when making the decision to remodel your home is “How much is my home remodeling project going to cost?” What you will end up spending on your remodel depends on a variety of factors including your neighborhood, the type of project and level of finishes. Approach your project knowing what your budget is. What are you comfortable spending? Establishing your budget early in the process, while also being open with communicating your wish list items, will help your design team come up with a solution that you can live with.
As a Design/Build firm, Acton ADU helps you establish your budget early in the process. Our design team, in collaboration with our field team, works with you to make informed decisions on all phases of your remodel. Because we are continuously and concurrently estimating your project during the development of the design, you are essentially given accurate construction costs and a realistic timeline right from the beginning. You also benefit from an accurate depiction of your completed project early on.
Consider Repair Needs
Plumbing and Electrical — Remodeling an older home also presents some unique challenges compared to a newer builder grade home. If you live in an older house, there is a good chance your plumbing or electrical wiring may not meet current code. What does this mean?
Local building codes dictate what you can and can’t do to modify your home. These laws can be confusing and are usually updated every few years. You’ll want to take some time to study them, or consult an expert who can help you make sure your home is compliant. Some common problems include not having proper shut-off valves in place or plumbing that is not buried deep enough underground. Many older homes also have galvanized steel water pipes, which can corrode and develop blockages over time. To be compliant today, you would be required to change out these pipes as part of your whole house remodel.
Windows — Should your windows be repaired or replaced? In older homes, it’s always desirable to retain an original window, especially if they are old wood windows. They can even be restored to rival a dual-pane thermal replacement window. Considerations like new glazing, weather stripping or adding a pane of glass are all ways one can improve a window’s performance.
Your window’s condition may also warrant a replacement. A careful look at the window and its significance to the home’s character, style and regional characteristics will be important in finding an acceptable replacement. Moreover, window efficiency can also be improved through a variety of storm-window options.
Environmental Considerations — If your home was built before 1980, your home may have been built with unsafe materials such as lead paint or asbestos. Special precautions should be made to test for and safely remove these environmental hazards. Make sure to talk with a remodeling contractor who can advise you on how to proceed with your remodel while keeping your family and workers safe.
As a specialist in the revitalization of aging homes, Acton ADU would conduct a full audit of all the necessary repair requirements as part of our overall scope of work.
Consider Unique Design Elements
Replace vs. Keep – The best remodeling work on old houses almost invariably involves preserving some original elements, restoring others, and identifying how the new work can augment the old.
Consider keeping these items on top of your preservation list, courtesy of Bob Vila.
Aging-in-Place — If you’ve made the decision to remodel your aging home, you may be planning on living there into retirement. There are many universal design principles that can be taken into consideration during a whole house remodel, to aid in the comfort and usability of the home for many years to come. Ideas include no-step entries, wider doorways and hallways, curbless showers and walk-in tubs, and even elevators.
Websites like Houzz and Pinterest, are reinventing the way homeowners can communicate their colors, personal style, preference for flooring, lighting and cabinetry choices. Learn how Pinterest and Houzz have changed the remodeling process for the better.
Work with a Pro
A whole house remodel, especially an aging home, is a significant investment of both your time and money. Consider working with a qualified design, construction and project management team to ensure your new home is exactly the way you imagined, delivered on time and on budget.
Keep your goals, budget, needs, and vision at the forefront of your remodeling plans and share this with a remodeling professional you can trust. Remodeling contractors harbor a wealth of knowledge and can provide you with additional solutions to consider. Look for a remodeling contractor whose business philosophy and processes are in alignment with your own personal values. You’re going to be spending a lot of time with these people, so make sure you are comfortable being around them.