Renovation5 min

Homeowner’s Guide to Remodeling a Historic Home

The story behind your home offers a fascinating glimpse into the people who lived in it as well as how your home fits into the larger story of your city.

If you want to remodel your historic home's exterior, experts advise visiting your local historic preservation commission. If your home lies within the historic overlay district, these commissions often have authority to set rules not only on the visual aesthetic, but the materials as well.

If you're looking for a historic home renovation guide, the historic commission can be remarkably helpful. They may also be able to help you find local remodelers who are especially skilled at renovating historical properties.

"Many remodelers network with the historical commission so they are extremely familiar with the guidelines," says Kip Faulk, south Louisiana territory sales manager for LP Building Solutions. "Not only do they understand the opportunities and restrictions for such a renovation, but they often know the inspectors so they can help ensure it is a seamless process."

What Makes a Home “Historic”?

Houses on the National Registry of Historic Places operate under different rules. Generally, a historic house includes one or a combination of the following components:

  • Certain age (the rule of thumb is typically at least 50 years old)
  • Illustrates a signature architectural style captured at a given time
  • Associated with a historic event or famous person
  • Part of a neighborhood historic overlay district

First Steps for Remodeling a Historic Home

Knowing the historical context of your house can help guide your historic home renovations. The Nashville Historical Commission offers this advice for getting started:

  • Carefully examine your home building materials, architectural style and shape.
  • Note specific architectural details, including windows and chimneys.
  • Pinpoint changes in construction materials, building style or floor plan indicating an addition or remodel.
  • Review how the house fits into the neighborhood. Similar style and sizes could point to a common builder.
  • Read the landscape, looking for foundations of outbuildings and evidence of property lines marked by trees or fences.

If you want to know more about the people who lived in your home, historical commissions advise searching census data, deeds and tax records. Your local library may have old maps, city directories and copies of local newspapers.

Choosing Contractors Who Remodel Historic Homes

All this architectural and historic data can help you and your contractor put together a remodeling plan that celebrates the character and charm of your home. It's another important reason to work with remodelers whose specialty is historic renovation.

“A good remodeler will work with homeowners to take advantage of historic preservation grants and funds,” adds Faulk. “Tax incentives are available to homeowners remodeling historic homes.”

If your home is indeed part of the area’s historic district, the remodeler will have an excellent understanding of the building materials approved by the commission.

Faulk has been invited to speak at the remodelers’ counsel associated with the New Orleans Historic District Landmark Commission (HDLC) on LP® SmartSide® Trim & Siding. It gives contractors the opportunity to dig deeper about technical information, installation and durability, specifically with Faulk speaking about engineered wood products. 

Like many districts across the country, HDLC requires historic homes to closely resemble the home’s original wood siding. The commission approved the use of LP® SmartSide® Smooth Trim & Siding following the product line’s 2019 launch. LP SmartSide Smooth Trim & Siding, which offers advanced durability, allows homeowners to feel confident their home renovation will last while ensuring its original historic charm will remain intact.

Interested in learning more? Read the Do’s and Don’ts for Re-Siding a Historic Home and Tips for Re-Siding in Historic Districts.

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