Remodeling That Old House


Remodeling with Farha HomeTrends

Do you love watching remodeling shows on television?  Those guys that refurbish old houses and restore old homes to their “original glory” and it almost appears to be a relaxing hobby for them.  Maybe you prefer the individuals who take the older home, make some changes in design and update it for a completely new, modern look.  If you are into DIY programs, you have undoubtedly thought “I could do that”.  Well, before you take a sledge hammer to anything, let’s take a look at some of the “behind-the-scenes” issues of remodeling that old house.

First of all, determine what you are up against.  When the building was constructed?  If it was built before 1978, it probably still has some lead base paint in it.  Many of these older buildings also have asbestos products in one form or another.  Knowing this is very important, not only to your plans and your budget, but also to your health.  Remodeling projects that disturb either of these surfaces can cause the release of fibers or dust that are harmful to humans.  Special practices and procedures must to be followed in order to limit exposure to hazardous debris.  It is also critical to properly dispose of debris. It insures your health and the safety of the community as well.  Be sure to do your research, get educated on the appropriate procedures and methods of abatement and the laws regarding proper disposal of each unsafe material being removed.  Finally, be sure to properly test the air quality when finished.

Other things to consider before tackling these projects, is the electrical and plumbing needs.  In buildings constructed prior to 1930, knob and tube wiring was common.  It is not only outdated and inefficient; more importantly, it can be a fire hazard. Old electrical lines must be replaced and brought up to the current local building codes.  Also, be sure you have adequate power supplied to the building.  Many of our modern conveniences have electric demands that older electrical circuits and boxes were not designed to handle. When determining the electrical demands, plan ahead for items you may want to add later.  This could save you a lot of money and headaches in the future.

You can also run into very outdated and even inoperable plumbing lines in these older homes.  The use of galvanized pipes and cast iron drain lines was common until the 1960’s.  The average life of a cast iron drain line is 40 years, so those will certainly need to be replaced.  Upgrades to the plumbing could be copper, PEX or HDPE systems and PVC drain lines.   The old galvanized lines likely have become corroded over time, leading to poor water pressure, among other issues.

Be sure to contact qualified and licensed tradesmen for all of the required plumbing, electrical and HVAC needs.  It may be wise to find tradesmen with experience in working on older homes, as they will be more familiar with what to look for and how to make repairs in a timely manner, saving you both time and money.

Many older homes still have the original lathe and plaster walls and ceilings.   Quite often they will be full of cracks or even missing plaster. Since the existing lathe and plaster walls are not the same thickness as modern drywall, they can be difficult to seam together.  Plan to replace all of the plaster walls and ceilings with sheetrock for a clean, smooth, paintable surface.   Often times, the lathe and plaster must be removed  to gain access to the plumbing and electrical lines for repairs.  While the walls are open, you should carefully inspect for improper construction methods and any signs of damage from water leaks, termites or dry rot.  Make any necessary repairs and then install the appropriate insulation and drywall for fire protection, noise reduction and energy efficiency.

Lastly, don’t forget to pull the proper permits before renovations begin!  Staying in the good graces of local inspectors is key to progressing on big renovation jobs.  There is nothing worse than being shut down for weeks because of improper planning and paperwork, especially when you just got good momentum going on the project.

Prior to starting any remodeling project on your own:

  1. Know all of the applicable codes and laws for your area
  2. Review your insurance policy for coverage during renovations
  3. Check for hazardous materials before disturbing any surfaces
  4. Dispose of hazardous materials properly and test air quality when complete
  5. Find licensed tradesmen with experience working in older homes
  6. Put together a firm budget, including construction materials, tradesman, disposal costs, and selected fixtures and finishes and permit costs
  7. Pull required permits

Knowing what you are up against before you plan your budget helps ensure that opening up those walls doesn’t drain your wallet!  Now that you have addressed the budget and some of the less glamorous parts of home remodeling, you can work on selecting the finishes you want.  After all, that’s really the fun and glamourous part of the home remodel, right?!  Putting your special touch on your home’s design and enjoying the final results with family and friends!

If the busy-ness of dealing with permits, old pipes, precarious wiring and harmful debris sounds like more than you want to tackle on your own, give Farha HomeTrends a call.  We would love to visit with you about your remodeling plans.  We have experience in remodeling homes of all ages.  We are licensed and insured, know the local codes and have established tradesmen for just about any home remodeling project.  There is no cost for the initial consultation to homeowners in Wichita and the surrounding communities.

Farha HomeTrends offers peace of mind in knowing that the job is done right by experienced professionals. This allows you to forego researching codes and abatement techniques. It alleviates the hassle of finding and scheduling reputable tradesmen.  It also relieves the inevitable sore, aching muscles from the countless hours of work and the worry of exposure to harmful elements.  Best of all, you get to fast forward to enjoying your beautiful home!


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