People buy old houses for a lot of different reasons. Some love the history every old house has seen and weathered. Some love the architecture of a period and are enthralled with the bits that make up the charm and character of an old house. Still others enjoy the feel that an old house gives its owners. It doesn’t matter why people purchase old homes, here at BGW Construction, we understand what your old house means to you. We love old houses, too.
But to make an old house really comfortable for today’s families, the owner and the contractor have to work together and look at every aspect of the structure through objective eyes.
Consider structural elements in your old house – like windows
For instance, take windows. Those old glass panes set in wooden grills that are thinner at the top than the bottom and give you a slightly distorted view of the out-of-doors offer character and history. Beautiful for many, and treasured, for sure, these old windows are also not insulated and drafty most of the time.
Most of those old windows were hand-blown. You can tell by the uneven finishes and air bubbles. Replacing that sort of glass is possible, but it can be tedious and costly.
That brings me to the point … when remodeling an old home, the owner has to make decisions. Many of these decisions come down to a choice between complete purist rehab and creature (and financial) comforts. Winter in a home with old windows is not always comfortable. Or, if the temperatures are maintained in a comfortable range, you pay for it with (very) high heating bills.
We also understand that you want your home to maintain its character and charm, but you want it to be updated and comfortable for modern times, too. If you replace the windows with modern windows you might lose a little character, but there’s a big upside, too. You will likely save lots of money on not just the replacement or repair costs, but on the heating and air conditioning costs going forward. Plus, when replacing windows, the contractor is able to plug energy-wasting gaps and holes around the window, too. The glass in windows today provides insulation and, in many instances, protection from the sun, too.
Updating elements doesn’t mean losing all the charm and character in your old house
Another upside to replacing windows in a remodel or rehab is that you can choose from a variety of styles and types. You can choose between casement or double-hung windows. You can also change the feel of a room by adding in large picture windows, bay or bow windows or even transom windows above doors. That provides you a variety of different ways to add charm instead of just replacing a single pane window with another plain single pane.
There are lots of ways to maintain the character and charm of an old house, but update parts of the structure and services (electricity and plumbing) for convenience and comfort. Design, architectural interest, finishes, color and highlighting one special feature are all ways to make an old house stand out with all its historical meaning.
In a recent project on a house in Zionsville, BGW saved the original wood floors. We made them shine to bring out the look and feel of the old Victorian structure. Saving that one feature made it stand out as a real showpiece in the house.
Sometimes saving an old house and giving it what is needed to make it last for a long, long time in the future means infusing the benefits of modern technology into the mix. If you really think about it, that’s what our forefathers, did, too. Nothing lasts forever in its original state. Everything needs care, repair, and a skilled hand to keep it relevant to today – including our old houses.
When you are ready to update or remodel your old house, contact us here at BGW Construction. We love old houses, too, and we have the skilled hands to help you preserve all the history possible in yours.