Renovating An Old Home - The Biggest Challenges

From Pinterest: HGTV Fixer Upper
  The older homes we have around Atlanta and Marietta are fantastic reminders of the rich history of our beautiful city. Older homes have great character, and with shows like Fixer Upper and Home Town topping the ratings on HGTV, renovating these homes is very hot right now. But tackling the challenges that come with remodeling an older home are not to be taken lightly. 

   Here are some of the things that HGTV shows tend to glaze over in 60 second montages that are actually a bit more work than they are made to appear:

  • Old Plumbing and Electrical Lines

    Electrical wiring and plumbing problems are common in older homes. Before the 1960s, galvanized pipes were used both within the house and for sewer lines as well. The problem with galvanized pipes is they easily get clogged or corrode over time. Old electrical wiring can be a safety hazard and will need to be brought up to code. Consider the fact that homes in the 1920s didn’t have hair dryers, and even something as small as that can draw more power than old household electrical systems can handle. Old wiring is also just an inconvenience: If you’ve ever lost power when running the microwave and the coffeemaker at the same time, you know what we mean. 
  • Materials & Sizes Used to Build Your Home Are No Longer Available

    Older homes were constructed to different building standards and codes than today, and often with completely different materials. Bathtubs were smaller, doors narrower, and rooms were smaller too. If want to maintain your home’s old character, it can be tricky finding materials that will match the rest of your house for your renovation. Renovating an old Brownstone? You’ll need solid wood paneled doors and thin oak flooring—all of which are completely different from today’s standards and common materials used in homebuilding today.
  • Unsafe Materials Like Lead and Asbestos

    If the house was built several decades ago - or more, there’s a good chance there is lead in the paint and asbestos in the flooring, ductwork, popcorn ceilings, roofing, and HVAC system. Left undisturbed, these aren’t harmful, but if the project calls for scraping or cutting these materials, the powder or dust can be very hazardous.
  • Outdated Layouts / No Open Floorplans

    Watch an episode of HGTV’s House Hunters, and you’ll quickly learn that the features and
    floorplans that today’s homebuyers are searching for differ significantly what you’ll find in many older homes. Master bedroom with walk-in closet and attached bath? Open floorplan layout between the kitchen, dining, and living room? Not in older homes. Back in the day, homeowners had live-in staffs who cleaned and cooked for them, and Victorian-style homes had a room for every. Single. Purpose. Common building plans in earlier decades also involved tenement housing, so large buildings were cut into small apartments. Possibly, no one then thought anyone would ever want to live in an “open layout.”
    Tearing down walls can be both expensive and dangerous if it’s a load-bearing wall, and if you’re thinking about opening up a floor so you can see from the living room through the kitchen, odds are you’ll have structural issues to deal with.


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