Across the country today more people are becoming aware of the need to maintain and preserve our historical heritage. Restoring and preserving homes, neighborhoods and even communities has become a passion for many dedicated people who take the time and who are willing to spend the money necessary to preserve these structures.
There are many bargains on homes that are perfect candidates for restoration. When considering purchasing a property in neighborhoods where there are older homes, be sure to ask the Realtor or owner if the house is in a Historic District. It is important that you know in advance so you can avoid any potential problems that will slow down your project.
1. Become familiar with the community office that manages restoration projects. Get to know the people who make the decisions.
2. Become familiar with the regulations for Historical Restoration. Every community is different so be sure to check out the information yourself prior to purchasing a home in a historical district.
3. Be aware that even small repairs may require an application be submitted and reviewed by the Historical Preservation Committee. Most committees have designated dates and times to meet and review case by case.
4. Be sure to collect adequate documentation for your project and submit a complete package to include photos and a complete description of each of the items you may choose to repair, alter or replace. Include information for your property and also surrounding homes. This comes in to effect when you are using surrounding homes to show where some new work has been completed. Example: where new doors and siding have been installed previously. It may make the difference being granted approval or not. Plan your restoration timeline based on how long it takes to get approval.
5. Various trims, doors and other original features of the home requiring replacement or repair must be replicated to look the same, unless a supply of original materials can be found.
6. Most committees will allow the interior of the home to be modernized in so far as it blends in with the style of the home. Usually committee approval is not required (check with your local Historical Preservation Committee) .
7. Always and without exception, hire experienced contractors who specialize in restoring old homes. Older homes require a special skill and understanding of the construction techniques used one hundred years ago. If possible visit some of the restoration projects they have been involved with recently. Check with the Local Historical Organization for references.
8. Be prepared to expect a higher cost for the restoration. The amount of work on these older homes requires more time and skill. These homes will have lead paint and require special procedures to be followed during the restoration.
9. Check to see if the property qualifies for special grants and or tax credits. If you are purchasing the property from a Community Development Commission or the Historical Organization there may be a grant in place.
10. A restored home may demand a higher sale price because of the location and historical designation Be aware that this could place your restored home in a price range that is significantly higher than where homes in another good neighborhood are selling in this market. Be careful not to position yourself where you can not sell the property because the price is too high.
Historical properties can be a profitable investment for a seasoned investor who understands what to expect from Historical Restoration. I do not recommend that a novice investor start with such an ambitious project.
It is important for investors to be involved in historical preservation. Many older neighborhoods have been given a second chance when the homes have been restored and are inviting for new owners.