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Key Factors to Keep in Mind When Renovating Historic Homes

Renovating historic properties in Chicago is not just about giving a building a new look; it’s about saving a piece of history while making it functional for modern living. For homeowners embarking on this rewarding yet difficult journey, understanding the basics of historic home renovation can make the difference between a successful restoration and a regretful overhaul. Here are some crucial points to consider if you’re planning on renovating historic homes in the Windy City.

Historic buildings can be found throughout Chicago.

Do Thorough Research

Before swinging a hammer or stripping old paint, you should conduct a significant amount of research. Historic homes are treasure troves of the past, and each element can hold historical significance. Dive into your home’s history—discover when it was built, identify who the original occupants were, and determine which unique architectural styles or elements define it. This understanding will guide all subsequent renovation decisions and ensure that updates are sympathetic to the original design.

Local archives, historical societies, and even previous owners can be invaluable resources in gathering this information. Also, make sure to follow Chicago’s building codes and rules for preserving historic buildings to avoid legal problems. Another great resource could be a state historic preservation officer, as they have a wealth of knowledge and archives about the buildings of Chicago.

Preserve Original Materials

One of the most crucial aspects of renovating a historic home is the preservation of original materials. These materials not only contribute to the home’s aesthetic and historical accuracy but also to its overall value. Whenever possible, preserve original wood flooring, moldings, fixtures, and tiles. If the original materials are too damaged, find similar reclaimed or reproduction materials to maintain the historic look.

This approach requires a keen eye and a delicate touch, often requiring the skills of specialists who can restore old materials to their former glory. Contractors experienced with historic buildings typically have a network of resources for sourcing the necessary materials.

Document Changes

Maintaining a detailed record of all changes made during the renovation process is vital. This documentation should include photographs before, during, and after renovation, a detailed log of the work carried out, and reasons for significant changes or replacements. Such records will be priceless for future renewal efforts and can provide historical insights that contribute to the home’s story.

Documenting changes also helps in communicating with local historic preservation boards or societies that may need to approve alterations. Transparency with these organizations can facilitate smoother project progression and help maintain good standing within the community if you have additional plans in mind.

Consider Modern Needs

While the focus of historic renovation is on preservation, integrating modern conveniences is equally important for contemporary living. The challenge lies in adding these features without disrupting the home’s historical essence. Strategic updates like upgrading HVAC systems, electrical wiring, and plumbing can significantly enhance livability without altering the home’s appearance.

It is possible to conceal newly installed appliances by utilizing panels that blend seamlessly with the existing cabinets. Additionally, it is feasible to incorporate new wiring within the current walls to maintain the vintage aesthetic. By doing so, you can introduce contemporary comfort and convenience while preserving the overall charm.

Need Help With Your Plans?

Renovating a historic home in Chicago is a unique opportunity to bring the past into the present, blending old charm with new functionalities. This process requires careful planning, respect for original materials, and a commitment to preserving the home’s historical integrity. Homeowners must approach renovations with thorough research, precise documentation, and a strategic approach to modernization.

For those looking to integrate more present-day updates or need expert guidance on their renovation projects, MK Construction offers professional advice and services. Contact us to explore how your historic renovation can meet modern living standards while celebrating its storied past. Renovating a piece of Chicago’s history can create a timeless space that respects the past and fits modern living.

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