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Are you the new owner of a historic home and you’re itching to remodel?  Take care to preserve the historic features of the home to maintain its value.  Here are some things to consider…

Many owners of historic homes try to do what’s hot right now, but what’s hot right now won’t be hot in 10 years.  What will maintain the home’s value is to remain true to the era of the home.  I can’t tell you how many Ikea kitchens I have seen in the past year showing homes in Denver!  Here’s the thing – those kitchens do just fine in a condo that could be done in any style, they go along fantastically with the style of 1950’s mid mod ranches!  But they don’t match Denver squares, Victorians, or Craftsmans… at all.

So, what should homeowner’s do?  Tear out almost nothing and restore what’s there.  This will be better for the home’s value, it’s easier on the wallet, and it’s more eco-friendly.

Certainly, go ahead and update the heating, cooling, and plumbing systems, so homes are comfortable, safe and more energy-efficient.  As the owner of a home built in 1899, I give you my blessing to put in a walk-in closet if your closet is far too small to ever contain your clothing – though put it somewhere out of the way.

– Keep the cabinets.  Don’t pull out your solid wood cabinets.  It is difficult to even find cabinets made of a similar quality these days! The newer manmade materials are not made for years of wear and tear, they don’t handle moisture well, the laminate pulls away, and the pulls come off.  Instead, strip and refinish the wood and add newer pulls.  It looks better, lasts longer, and will save money.

– Refinish the tubs and sinks. To give an old porcelain bathtub a new coat costs about $400. A new tub can run more than $1,000, not including demo and installation.

– Save wood floors. Covering old wood floors with cheaper inferior tiles or carpet is not cool.  Definitely do not have your original flooring removed!  You can fix floors that have been burnt, flooded or even covered in pet stains. It is always cheaper and more authentic to refinish existing floors and patch sections where needed. You can always get the patch to match.

– Clean old tile. Old tile floors or other tile surfaces look worn out usually because they are filthy. Don’t tear them out until you’ve given them a good cleaning.

– Make counters authentic, by avoiding products that weren’t available when the house was built. This means nothing manmade, like laminate or Corian, and nothing modern, like glass tiles. Go for wood counters, like butcher block, or classic marble, and occasionally granite. Ceramic tiles work in homes built after 1930.

– Keep the walls up. Open floor plans are a trend, but may not belong in old houses.  After a couple years of living in an open floor plan, people often don’t want it anymore.  Before removing a wall, try living in the house for six months. If you still hate the wall after six months, go ahead and knock it down.

– Repair, don’t replace, windows. They are important to the home’s historic value. Old windows leak and are drafty because they haven’t been properly maintained. Have them repaired and weatherstripped so they’re efficient.  Adding historically accurate storm windows outside can boost efficiency.

If you’re interested in buying or selling a historic Denver home, call Allison Parks, Conscious Real Estate’s owner and principal broker at 303-908-9873 or email allison@theconsciousgroup.com.

Not all roofs are created equal.  Here is a comparison of the different types of roofing materials, so you can find which roof is best for your home.

Asphalt Shingle is the most common roofing material, because it’s the least expensive and requires minimal skill to install. It’s made of a fiberglass medium that’s been impregnated with asphalt and given a surface of sand-like granules. Two basic configurations are sold: the standard single-thickness variety and thicker, laminated products. The standard type costs roughly half as much, but laminated shingles have an appealing textured appearance and last roughly half as long (typically 25 years or more, versus 15 years plus). Prices range from $50-200 per square foot.  (Depending on the type of asphalt shingle with installation, an asphalt shingle roof can cost many times that.)

Shingle roof pattern for textured background

Wood was the main choice for centuries, and it’s still a good option, though in some areas, fire codes forbid its use. Wood roofs are usually made of cedar, redwood, or southern pine; shingles are sawn or split. They have a life expectancy in the 25-year range like asphalt shingles, though are more pricey at $350-450 per square foot.

Natural wood shake roof

Metal.  Aluminum, steel, copper, copper-and-asphalt, and lead are all durable and more costly roofing surfaces. Lead and copper/asphalt varieties are typically installed as shingles, but others are manufactured for seamed roofs consisting of vertical lengths of metal that are joined with solder. These roofs start around $250 per square, though can cost up to $750 per square.

Modern design vertical roof window with black light metal covering

Modern design vertical roof window with black light metal covering

Tile and Cement – The half cylinders of clay tile roofing are common on Spanish Colonial and Mission styles; cement and some metal roofs imitate tile’s wavy effect. All are expensive, very durable, and tend to be heavy.  Clay tile roofs are likely to last 50 plus years, and will generally cost between $800-1000 per square foot.  Concrete tile is expected to last just as long, though is cheaper at $300-500 per square foot.

Peak of a clay tile roof with half round shingles against a blue sky in southern florida

Slate is among the most durable and long lasting of all roofing materials. Not all slate is the same—some comes from quarries in Vermont, some from Pennsylvania and other states—but the best slate shingles will outlast the fasteners that hold them in place. In fact, slate roofs up to 100 years old are often recycled for reinstallation with the expectation the material will last another century. Slate is among the most expensive of all roofing materials – prices typically start at about $800 a square going up to $2000 per square—and are very heavy.

A Slate roof shingles background

Solar shingles are photovoltaic cells, capturing sunlight and transforming it into electricity. Most solar shingles are 12 by 86 inches and can be stapled directly to the roofing cloth. Different models of shingles have different mounting requirements. Some can be applied directly onto roofing felt intermixed with regular asphalt shingles while others may need special installation. Solar-shingled roofs have a deep, dark, purplish-blue color, and often look similar to other roofs. Homeowners may be drawn to solar shingles because of their aesthetic value, allowing the homeowner to utilize solar power without large panels on their roofs.

shingles-solar

Note:  Not every roofing material can be used on every roof. A flat roof or one with a low slope may demand a surface different from one with a steeper pitch. Materials like slate and tile are very heavy, so the structure of many homes is inadequate to carry the load. Consider the following options, then talk with your designer and get estimates for the job.