The ultimate challenge for the home remodeling enthusiast is the experience of purchasing an renovating a historic home-to keep its historic charm but make it functional for a 21st century family. As fixer-uppers go, historic homes are as challenging as they come. Before such an undertaking, here are a few tips you should keep in mind.
Make sure you’re ready
Though remodeling can do a whole lot, it’s still going to be a very old home at the end of the day and old homes have their little quirks. They may be a little crooked, the rooms may not be evenly heated or cooled, and it’s going to need a lot more in the way of maintenance. Ask yourself if these are deal breakers for you. Some homeowners are willing to put up with an awful lot just for the charm of living in an older home. Others need all of their 21st century comforts and that isn’t always feasible with an older home even with extensive remodeling.
Structural issues first
When renovating a historic home, you need to start by addressing any potential structural issues. You don’t want to blow through your budget only to discover you don’t have enough left to address a problem that’s essential for the home’s structural integrity. Water damage is an indication of structural issues especially when it’s found on the ceiling or floors, around the windows, and on the sill plate (the bottom-most horizontal part of the home’s foundation). No matter how expensive, you have to tackle these problems first even if it means sacrificing a big chunk of your renovation budget.
Hire the right contractor
Restoring a historic home isn’t a job for the DIYer, no matter how skilled. You’re going to need a general contractor and you’ll want to hire someone who has experience working with older homes. A local historian with insight into how the home was built may also be a good asset, especially if he/she is knowledgeable about the processes that were used to restore other historic homes in the area.
If this will be your first time purchasing and renovating a historic home, don’t buy a mansion. Every remodel will entail some unforeseen costs but for historic homes, the unforeseen costs can be much, much higher. So start with a smaller home and set aside more for your budget than you think you’ll need.
Quality over quantity
Better to spend more on quality materials and workmanship and tackle less projects than to try to renovate everything but do it poorly. If you’ve followed the previous advice, and purchased a more manageably-sized home, you may be able to restore it perfectly as opposed to patching up a few areas on a larger home.
Practical upgrades over aesthetic ones
Aesthetics is the more fun part of remodeling but before you get carried away with the custom cabinetry or selecting paint colors for the interior, you need to think about practical upgrades first-ones that will prevent further damage to the home. Make it watertight, replace the roof, fix the windows, make sure there’s no problems with the masonry.
Embrace the quirkiness
With the exception of quirks that are truly problematic, you should just learn to embrace the fact that part of having a historic home is dealing with quirks. If the floors are uneven but the structural integrity of the home is sound, don’t spend a fortune trying to level them, find a way to accommodate that feature of the home into your design.
Forget about central heating and air
A popular upgrade for historic homes if centralized heating and air. Since this is so foreign to the original blueprints of a historic home, there’s virtually no way to do it without spending a lot of money and drastically changing the home. You’re better off buying some fans for the summer and some baseboard heaters for the winter. If you’re not crazy about the look of baseboard heaters, you can purchase baseboard heater covers to help disguise them a bit and make it blend in better with your design scheme.
Measure the height from the floor to the top of the metal wall plate.
Follow our guide for baseboard heater cover measurement:
Any baseboard larger than 7 3/8" (188 mm) will be compatible with our standard cover.
Any measurement greater than 9 3/8" (238 mm) will fit our tall cover.
Measure from the bottom of the finned tube heating element to the top of the metal wall plate,
A measurement of 5 1/2" to 6 3/4" (140 mm – 172 mm) will fit our standard cover.
A measurement of 7 1/2" to 8 3/4" (191 mm – 222 mm) will fit our tall cover.
Measure the distance from the wall or the metal wall plate attached to the wall, to the outside of the finned tube heating element.
Any measurement of less than 3 1/8" (76 mm) inches from the wall will fit our
Any measurement of less than 3 1/8" (76 mm) inches from the wall will fit our tall cover.
EZ Snap™ Wall Widgets are used when your old or existing wall back plate has been removed or if you have to hang your new cover 1 inch or higher to bring them up to a height that will fit our installation guidelines. Just measure your overall desired height, subtract 1", drill a hole, preferably in a stud and attach it to the wall with the included screw.
EZ Snap™ Floor Fidgets easily raise your new covers ¾ inch to compensate for any ¾ inch floor (wood, tile, or other) that has been installed any time since your baseboard heater was originally installed. May be used for any reason when the overall height has been shortened and the total height is less than 7-½ inches for standard height or 9-½ inches for the TALL height EZ Snap™ BaseBoard Covers. Just use the self-tapping screws to secure them to the top of your existing wallplate.
EZ Snap™ Wall Contraptions are used when your wall back plate has been completely removed. EZ Snap™ Wall Contraptions receives your EZ Snap™ BaseBoard Cover and keeps your aluminum fin tube from sagging. These completely replace your wall back plate. To install, slide up from the bottom and make sure the top is at your desired height. Screw to the wall, then bend the front finger up to hold the fin tube in place.
Measure from wall to wall and subtract ½ inch (to allow for wiggle room when installing your new covers.) The endcaps can be pulled or slid ½ inch outward on either end to fit your existing length requirements. Choose 2 flush to wall end caps.
Measure the overall length of the existing unit with ends attached then subtract ½ inch (to allow for wiggle room when installing your new covers.) The endcaps can be pulled or slid ½ inch outward on either end to fit your existing length requirements. Choose 2 Closed or Open-end caps.
Measure from the corner to the end of the unit with ends attached then subtract ½ inch (to allow for wiggle room when installing your new covers.) The endcaps can be pulled or slid ½ inch outward on either end to fit your existing length requirements. Choose 1 Closed or Open-end & 1 flush to wall end cap.
Measure the left side from corner A to corner B (see diagram). Then subtract 3 inches for the 90 degree inside corner, then subtract another ½ inch (to allow for wiggle room when installing your new covers.) Repeat for the right side if also wall to wall. You need to subtract a total of 3½ inches from each side that is wall to wall. Choose your end caps.
Measure the left side from the corner of the wall to the end of the unit with ends caps. Then subtract 3 inches for the 90 degree inside corner, then subtract another ½ inch (to allow for wiggle room when installing your new covers.) Repeat for the right side. You need to subtract a total of 3½ inches from both left and right sides. Choose your end caps.
L-Shaped outside radiators ending in the middle of the wall:
Measure from outside corner of the wall A to the end of the radiator unit with end caps attached B, then subtract ½" (to allow for wiggle room when installing your new covers.)
Measure from outside corner of the wall to the corner of the wall, then subtract 1/2" (to allow for wiggle room when installing your new covers.)
Left leg - measure from the corner out to the end of the radiator subtract 3" for the corner and ½ (to allow for wiggle room when installing your new covers.)
Center leg - measure from corner to corner and subtract 3" for each corner a total of 6"
Right leg - measure from the corner out to the end of the radiator subtract 3" for the corner and ½" (to allow for wiggle room when installing your new covers.).
We recommend that you order covers a little longer than normal and cut them on site, as there are many opportunities for mistakes in measuring and installation. By cutting on site you can fit and cut to fit. The covers can be cut with a good quality jigsaw and a fine metal cutting blade.
Now that you’ve learned how to measure baseboard heaters,
you’re ready to order.