Imagine retracing the architectural progression of the construction industry throughout history. Learning how this history evolved across the centuries as different architectural styles defined the various periods of history among cultures is an exciting and highly satisfying endeavor.
Take, for instance, the architectural transformation witnessed in the United States and England in the 18th century, a time of war and colonialism that saw the emergence of Georgian and colonial architecture. Houses in this era featured rectangular or square-shaped designs that were predominantly constructed using bricks.
If you were to travel back to this era, you’ll find houses with large uniform columns, high ceilings, symmetrical windows, and arches that decorate the elaborately designed grand entrances. This was a time of interior grandeur when homes had character and exuded class. So, whether renovating 18th century homes or demolishing them, you’ll need to consider the following.
Maintenance and Renovation of 18th Century Homes
When renovating 18th century homes, you’ll need to follow several steps. The goal is to ensure these architectural masterpieces from the 18th century retain their unique architectural designs while embracing the 21st-century technologies that make life much easier.
Step 1. Planning and research: Research the house’s history and understand its unique architectural design. Find out what materials were used in the original design and their historical significance.
Step 2. Hiring Experts: Old homes are delicate and tricky to renovate. This is not a DIY task by any means. You’ll need specialists, architects, and builders with experience restoring or recreating historical structures.
Step 3. Get the Appropriate Licenses: Here, you will need to comply with the relevant building codes, and not just that; you’ll also need to acquire the required licenses for working on historical structures.
Step 4. Structural Integrity: A building is as good as its structural integrity, including old ones. Before renovating an old house, find out how sturdy the structure is. A structural engineer can help you spot flaws or structural issues you may need to fix.
Step 5. Energy Efficiency: Improve your home’s energy performance without sacrificing its historic charm. You can install high-efficiency heating and cooling systems and enhance insulation by changing the original windows with energy-efficient replicas of the same aesthetic design. As the electrical and plumbing systems of such houses are, more likely than not, run down, it’s both a legal requirement and a personal favor you’d be doing yourself to update these systems to meet modern safety standards.
Step 6. Preserving and Restoring Original Features: Prioritize keeping and restoring the original woodwork, floors, doors, windows, and moldings. If repairs are needed, use materials and methods that closely resemble those of the original builders. Broken components of an original can be used to repair and restore the piece.
Step 7. Exterior and Landscaping: Pay attention to the outside and landscaping. Maintain the exterior of the house as it appeared in antiquity. Stay with the original colors, textures, and design as you restore the original features, such as gardens, pathways, and the gate with its antique sign and fences.
Step 8. Documentation: Now that you’re done with the task, take a step back and take it all in. You’ve done a great job that’s worthy of immortalizing in pictures. Take a few photos, and keep the documentation, structural drawings, and maps of the house to show how the renovation unfolded.
Factors to Consider When Working on 18th Century Homes
1. Historical Preservation
When renovating 18th century homes, preserve their historical preservation and architectural integrity. The historical relevance of the building can never be understated. To accomplish this, conduct exhaustive research and document the building materials and construction methods of the time.
This is to help you maintain the house’s original features, avoiding alterations. This is particularly true if the structure has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Any changes to the structure will result in historical inconsistencies and diminish its historical value.
Renovating an old building isn’t as straightforward as one might think. Suppose your 18th-century home is listed in the National Register of Historic Places or a designated historic district. In that case, you’ll be limited on the alterations you can make to your property. Expect to be asked to adhere to certain design standards, use specified materials, or maintain particular architectural characteristics by using preservation boards. On the one hand, it’s a tricky balancing act of maintaining the historical integrity of your home and, on the other, giving in to the desire for modern comforts.
Some areas you’ll need to be keen on include staying true to the building’s evolution over time; using conventional techniques and integrating modern systems while preserving the historical form; using historically accurate paint colors; and ensuring structural stability. Always pay attention to architectural details and consult specialists like local historical societies or preservation organizations to ensure your work aligns with preservation guidelines.
Maintaining the authenticity of your home means using tools and methods that are appropriate for the time. For instance, instead of using contemporary window treatments, find a specialist who can replicate a plantation shutter identical to those used at the time. When replacing window frames, consider employing the classic oak frames, common in the 18th century. Make sure minor features like the flooring, various moldings, and trim reflect the original design as closely as possible.
2. Building Codes and Regulations
While historical preservation is important, it must comply with modern building codes and regulations when working on 18th century homes. Some of the areas you’ll be required to comply with include the structural integrity of the building, the fire suppression definition, emergency escape openings, and circuit interrupters, just to name a few. This can be a delicate balance, as some of these codes may conflict with the original design or features of the home. Work closely with local building authorities to find solutions that meet the historical preservation requirements and modern safety standards.
You might need to seek permissions and follow particular laws depending on the location and scope of the modifications. Understanding local building standards and historic preservation requirements is crucial for ensuring compliance and preserving the historical integrity of a structure and its environs.
3. Structural Integrity
18th century homes may have experienced wear and tear over the years, and it’s essential to assess their structural integrity before starting any work. Engage the services of a structural engineer, a certified electrician, a qualified plumber, and any other competent professional licensed to inspect the roof, walls, and foundation of your building. They can identify structural issues and recommend appropriate repairs or reinforcements. Replace old rusted metal parts using modern stainless steel from your local custom stainless steel fabricator.
It’s hard to find materials that complement your 18th-century home’s original design and aesthetics. Replacement of worn-out or damaged components like trim, moldings, windows, or doors may call for custom fabrication or sourcing from specialized vendors. Pay close attention to these detail to keep the home’s historical correctness and attractiveness.
In case a Georgian structure has been condemned for demolition, hire qualified demo contractors to do the job. You can also contact experienced crane service providers to do your heavy lifting safely and efficiently during the demolition process.
Structural stability is a major concern when renovating old homes. The materials used to construct these homes in the 18th century may have degraded over time after exposure to the elements for decades, resulting in weakened foundations, sinking floors, or damaged walls that can no longer support the roof’s weight. Get specialized engineers to undertake detailed home inspections to ensure the renovations are stable and secure.
4. Environmental Considerations
Your work will impact the environment, especially if you’re working on 18th century homes. As you work, make it a duty to preserve and restore original materials, such as stone, wood, or plaster, whenever possible. These are architectural pieces of history that must be preserved wherever possible. The beauty of doing this is that you also get to reduce the carbon footprint that comes with the manufacture and disposal of new materials.
One disadvantage of 18th century homes is that they featured lead paint and asbestos during construction. As you renovate, you’ll need to find ways of getting rid of these harmful materials, as they contain potentially harmful chemicals that could endanger workers’ health. Luckily, mitigation techniques and testing measures are proven to remove these chemicals safely and effectively.
It’s also important to consider several water-related factors while remodeling an 18th-century home. Install water fixtures like faucets, toilets, and low-flow shower heads that save on water usage. Collect rainwater and re-purpose it for irrigation.
If your property has a well, contaminants in water should be tested and removed if found. Hire a reputable well pump service company to advise on concerns and install new fixtures or appliances that may be required.
5. Expertise and Experience
If you have the honor of working on any of the 18th century homes in your area, you’ll need expert knowledge and experience on such projects. One way to get a head start is by working with professionals who understand old buildings and the appropriate restoration methods. Such professionals are trained to respond appropriately to difficulties that may arise during work.
Today’s roofing conventions differ greatly from an 18th-century roofing install. First, roofing material comprised of slate, thatch, or wood shingles. The roof comprised rafters and wooden beams as the framework, the same as today. The roof was constructed by laying out materials from the bottom up, where fasteners were used to fix each row of thatch, wood shingles, or slate tiles added to the roof structure.
To make it watertight so it doesn’t leak, an overlapping design was installed over the underlying one. The key thing to note here is that this roofing method was labor-intensive. Besides, the materials required regular maintenance to keep the roof in excellent shape.
The plumbing in old homes is mostly antiquated, while electrical systems may not meet today’s safety regulations or needs. You may have to open walls and make several structural changes to complete a renovation project, such as rewiring the entire home or replacing the plumbing system.
You’ll find several 18th century homes that use gas for heating or cooking while others don’t. Either way, think about the logistics for propane deliveries when constructing or renovating these properties. For the home to function efficiently, make provision for access by propane delivery trucks.
6. Budget and Timeframe
If you’re planning a renovation, ensure you have a budget and plan. In your 18th-century home renovation budget, provide the research you’ll need for an accurate historical property account. You’ll need to establish how much it will cost and how long it’ll take. You may need professional consultants to help research and evaluate the property.
Next is to determine the scope of work and how long it’ll take to complete it. Here, factors such as the time it’ll take to get the necessary permits to renovate are critical. Another thing; you’ll need a tracking system to track the work progress and the project costs. It helps to factor all the costs down to each renovation component and make provision for hidden costs, among other things.
One of the things you’ll realize when renovating an old house is that it costs more and takes longer than a modern house. There are likely to be unforeseen problems that could crop up and affect the timelines and budget of the project. The key is to prepare for these eventualities and proceed as though they’ll happen to avoid surprises. One way to do this is to set up a contingency fund between 10% and 20% of the budget.
The next step is to develop a practical schedule that segments the project into phases, factoring in the milestones to be monitored at every phase. Where adjustments are necessary, make them and realign processes and budgets to factor in these eventualities. Every renovation project is unique, and each phase may require a different approach, which means you should adjust your budget and schedules to accommodate the specific requirements of every phase.
Working on 18th century homes is an intricate task that requires careful planning, research, and the support of experts with experience in historical home renovations and repairs. You’ll find it a joy renovating structures that have a story to tell. Some of these homes carry historical imagery from times past that tell of an era gone by. To be involved in renovating or repairing such a project is to take part in a fragment of history frozen in concrete.