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Keep Your Historical Home Up to Code

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Keep Your Historical Home Up to Code

Jul 1, 2024
Keep Your Historical Home Up to Code

If you own a historic home, then you already know they require a little more maintenance and care than other houses. All that character and craftsmanship means you as a homeowner must be more vigilant to potential issues and aging features.  

Historic buildings and historic structures have been standing for a long time, and when they were built building codes may have been a little different. Combine their age with shifting standards and sometimes historic homes are out of alignment with current laws. As a homeowner, it is important to make sure your historic property is up to code.  

That's easier said than done. As a lover of historic homes, I want to help make things easier for you. I put together this blog post to help you get your home up to code efficiently. In this post, we will discuss how you can learn about your local codes, why you should prioritize structural integrity, and how to maintain historical features. Keep reading to learn more! 

Understand Local Regulations and Reach out to Experts 


The first step to getting your home up to code is understanding your local regulations. Each locality has different codes, so you will probably have to do a little research to get started. In addition, historical homes often have regulations that differ from modern buildings, and familiarizing yourself with these guidelines is crucial. 

Check with the local building department to obtain information on the guidelines or restrictions specific to historical homes in the area. They will be able to provide valuable insight into what modifications or improvements require approval or permits. They may even have an expert who will come out to your property and advise you and what steps you should take first. 

I also recommend you reach out to the local historical society or preservation commission (if your area has one) for more specified advice. These organizations specialize in the preservation and maintenance of historical properties and they are highly invested in the area, meaning they have likely worked with other historic buildings just like your home. They will be able to provide insight into how you can restore your historic home while maintaining the unique features created by the master craftsmen of yesteryear.  


Prioritize Structural Integrity 


For historic homes, structural integrity is the first thing that needs to be addressed. A matter of safety, structural integrity refers to components of a home that support its weight and you as you walk around. Things like floors, stairs, walls, and roofs all start to become weak or dangerous if not properly cared for over decades. 

First, hire a professional to look at the home's foundation. Any signs of cracks, settling, or water damage should be addressed promptly. The foundation is responsible for distributing the weight of the house and preventing structural issues, and in historic districts or historic sites, foundations are often more susceptible to significant damage. 

Next, hire a professional to inspect the roof for any leaks, sagging, or missing shingles. A compromised roof can lead to water intrusion, which can cause significant damage to the entire structure. Of course, roofs that have seen a lot of damage have a risk of partial or total collapse which can be life-threatening. Ensure that the physical condition of your roof is sound and work with those who have access to historic resources to ensure that any roof restoration is done safely, while maintaining the historical  

Additionally, pay careful attention to load-bearing walls and beams. These components provide crucial support to the house and should be carefully inspected by a professional. Reinforce or replace any weakened or damaged load-bearing elements while still maintaining historical accuracy. Consult with experts who have access to and an understanding of historic resources and cultural resources to ensure your historical buildings are properly restored and maintained. 


Maintain Historical Features 


When updating or remodeling an old home, I strongly urge you to make every effort possible to maintain its historical features. The homes built today simply do not have the same level of detail or craftsmanship as those built in the early 1900s or before.

It is completely possible to get your historic home up to code without removing any of the charm that makes it unique. Look at our Victorian porch restoration to see how Old School Craftsman kept this structure’s original style while restoring it to ensure it met the highest safety standards. 

Remember that homes used to take a long time to build and because of that, the craftsman who built them put a lot of themselves into the work. These buildings could not be thrown together in a matter of days like they can today and as a result, historic homes are like time capsules that we can live and work in.  

It is a very sad thing to see these old homes torn down or radically modernized when new owners take them over and bring them up to code. I strongly urge you to make every attempt to preserve the original materials and repair rather than replace them whenever possible. 

If you cannot save certain materials (for example you discover that the woodwork is rotting) work with a craftsman who has experience with historical buildings and can replicate those materials accurately. 


Work With Old School Craftsman for Your Historical Restoration Projects 


Restoring historic homes is serious business. Getting them up to code is important because it ensures that they will be healthy and habitable for years to come. If you want to restore a historic home and maintain the wonderful features that make it unique, you need to work with an experienced craftsman who understands and appreciates antique homes. 

Old School Craftsman is just the team for you. My name is Brent Sears, and together with my son Brendon and my wife Trish, we make up the Old School Craftsman team. Last year, we restored the double porch of a Victorian home in Wyoming, Ohio and we have done many similar jobs. 

Old School Craftsman are your historic home experts. Click here to reach out to us today! 

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