Remodeling An Old House: What To Know - in Portland-Oregon

Published Mar 12, 23
5 min read

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Image: O Manzi / Ulla Gala Architects Whatever renovation route you choose, you'll need to check whether your project requires planning permission or a building permit. In the UK, some types of extension and renovation are classed as permitted development and therefore don't require planning permission. However, in the US, any project that involves additions or structural changes to your home or its mechanical systems will need a building permit.

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When the project gets underway, it's a good idea to share a schedule of works with your contractors to help avoid miscommunications and costly delays. If you're planning a large overhaul, you may find it easier to enlist the help of a professional project manager or entrust the job of overseeing the works to your main contractor.

When you start to plan your project, it's important to be aware of the distinction between renovation and restoration. A home renovation doesn't have to involve restoration work – the act of returning period features to their original condition – but the two processes often go hand in hand. Old meets new in this stunning scheme, featuring restored plasterwork and a charming herringbone brick hearth.

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Set within a modern scheme, they can make spectacular focal points and add plenty of personality to a room. In older houses, features such as ceiling roses, mouldings, beams and original windows may be immediately apparent, however, other heritage gems may not be so obvious unless you know where to look.

Who knows what you'll uncover... Three plucky local investors brought this historic home back from the brink. Image: Leland Kent Preserving the past was at the forefront of the minds of historic house enthusiasts Ross Sheppard, Jacob Hawkins and Will Walker when they began their meticulous restoration of the dilapidated Rockwell House.

Focused on saving the home's treasure trove of exquisite period features, they undertook an ambitious renovation project and rescued the local landmark for future generations to enjoy. In the Pink Suite (pictured), the original ceiling rose and cornicing were revived, while the sash windows were restored to their former splendour.

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Now that's how you respectfully renovate a historic gem! .

For people who love old houses — and love to work on them — the notion of buying a fixer-upper can be irresistible. Just think: You can snag a rundown place in a good neighborhood for way below market price, invest some time and money renovating it, and end up with a like-new house that's worth at least twice what you paid for it.

But buying a fixer-upper can be fraught with peril. So before you take the plunge, read our home restoration tips to make sure you have a realistic idea of what you're getting into. "If people are unforgiving up front about assessing the costs of renovation, the value of the property and the neighborhood, and how much money they have, they can come out ahead and buy more house than they otherwise could ever afford," says Bradley Inman, CEO of , a real estate sales and information Web site.

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Figuring out what you should pay when buying a fixer-upper starts with a simple equation. First, add up the costs to renovate the property based on a thorough assessment of the condition of the house. Be tough with this estimate, which should include materials and labor — yours and other people's.

Then deduct at least another 5 to 10 percent for extras you decide to add, unforeseen problems and mishaps that have to be dealt with, and inflation. What's left should be your offer. It's essential that the real estate contract include an inspection clause. At best, the inspection will assure you that the house is a good investment; at worst, it will help you back out of the deal.

The inspector will document a serious problem or two, and you can use the findings to get the seller to pay for repairs or negotiate the sale price downward. If the house needs significant structural improvements, many real estate experts recommend avoiding it altogether. That's because major repairs — plumbing and electrical system overhauls, foundation upgrades, and extensive roof and wall work — are usually "invisible" and hardly ever raise the value of the house enough to offset the cost of the renovation.

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New lighting fixtures, doors, window shutters, and siding, as well as updated kitchens and bathrooms, are also lucrative improvements. Falling in between structural and cosmetic renovations are major additions needed to bring the house in line with its neighbors, such as a family room or third bedroom in a community of three-bedroom homes.