If you’re flipping a house or renovating before a resale, your goal should be to do exactly what’s necessary to make it profitable—not too much extra since you’re working within a narrow budget, but not too little either. With older homes, though, it’s easy to mistakenly damage the house’s value by removing or altering traditional features that are highly desirable.
So, how do you know what to rip out and what to restore? There are two key parts: knowing the market and knowing architectural history. When you opt to protect the distinctive features of older homes, it can save you money and time while also increasing your profit margins.
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Honoring Hardwood Floors
For reasons ranging from cost to deforestation, few homes today are built with traditional hardwood floors, but infrequent use doesn’t mean they’re undesirable. In fact, “original hardwood flooring” is the kind of phrase that will make your listings stand out. First, though, you need to refinish old hardwood floors.
Refinishing hardwood floors can be more labor-intensive than tearing them out if they’re badly damaged, but many just need a good cleaning and fresh stain. Either way, you’ll be glad you spent the time on them. Compared to a new alternative like bamboo used by many property managers, real wood refinished beautifully and is a timeless source of added value.
Focus on the Fireplace
In an ordinary room, a well-appointed fireplace can act as a centerpiece and draw people together, but the upkeep can be tough. Still, before you board up the fireplace during renovations, look for ways to restore or repurpose it.
Start by cleaning the firebox and have a professional check the flue to make sure it can be safely used. Then, depending on the exterior, you can work on refinishing the fireplace for maximum appeal. To clean a stone fireplace, for example, you’ll only need soap and water, and maybe some degreaser if it’s really dirty. With wooden mantels, on the other hand, you’ll want to re-sand and apply a fresh coat of paint, making sure to preserve any original detailing.
Hang on to Hardware
One of the most sought after features in older homes is original hardware, such as brass and crystal doorknobs and drawer pulls, and lacking original vintage pieces, many people actually purchase modern replicas. If you’re lucky enough to have a house with these pieces intact, don’t even think about replacing them with brushed nickel or generic porcelain. Nickel is actually going out of style after more than a decade of marketplace dominance, while people are scouring antique markets for these antique hardware pieces.
Overall, when it comes to older homes, the rule of thumb should be “repair rather than replace.” Though the modern housing market relies on the notion that it’s easier just to tear out what’s not working and replace it with inexpensive, ready-made products, older homes were built to last. When you opt to destroy the distinctive craftsmanship and dump high quality, antique materials, you’re spending your money the wrong way and taking away from the home’s value.
Let the old details stand and maximize the final value of any sale, whether it’s a quick flip or a personal transition, because restoration-ready homes are hard to find and easy to sell.
Anything you’d add to this list?