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You raised the down payment and won the bidding war. Now, you’re the proud owner of a historic home. It has more than its fair share of charm, antiquated beauty and character, but it isn’t the most efficient or even functional house on the block. How do you go about renovating this new purchase? How do you honour the integrity and beauty of your historic home while improving its efficiency and function?

That’s precisely the questions this article intends to answer. Below, let’s explore a couple of common historic home renovations and offer tips on how to do it right!

Replacing Windows

The first and most important item on your renovation list will be window replacement. Residential windows have a typical lifespan of between 15 and 30 years (depending on the initial quality, how well they were installed, whether they were maintained, etc.). Chances are, your historic home’s windows are out-of-date, which can mean they are susceptible to air leaks and energy loss. Old, inefficient windows can cost you a lot on your energy bill and make a home feel less hospitable.

When replacing your windows, find a company that designs and manufactures custom windows with good energy ratings. “Custom” is the operable term here, as you will need the windows to match your home’s unique architecture and design. Work with the window company to create an architectural window in a similar style and material as the existing window.

Replacing the Roof

The next item on your list will likely be roof replacement. Wood and metal shingles have a functional life of up to 45 years, and clay can last even longer. Still, depending on when your home was built (and whether its roof has ever been replaced), you may need a roof replacement to keep your new purchase safe from the elements.

If your home is registered with the National Registrar of Historic Places, you will need to submit a request for roof replacement. In any case, you will probably need to use the same materials as your existing roof. If the material is rare or difficult to source, this can be a costly process. In the meantime, as you save for your renovation, you may consider temporary patching.

Hiring the Right General Contractor

There’s no better advice for general renovations than this: hire a general contractor who specializes in historic homes. With bureaucratic hoops to jump through and careful considerations to make about materials and structural integrity, having an experienced historic home contractor in your corner is invaluable.

The same goes for the window company you choose and the roofer you employ. As mentioned, find a window company that manufactures and installs their own custom-made architectural windows.

Beyond those important renovations, the rest is usually cosmetic – a coat of paint here, some new hardwood flooring there. Before you know it, you’ll be enjoying your historic home, comforted by the knowledge that it is efficient, functioning and true to its original spirit. All that’s left to do is take lots of proud pictures.