Construction Historical

Restoring a Historic Home: 8 Tips and Tricks Before You Get Started

Welcome back to Period Dramas, a weekly column that alternates between raiding historic homes on the market and answering questions we’ve always had about older buildings.

Restoring a historic home is no easy feat. Not only do old structures and building materials need to be treated with extra care, but old houses are full of surprises, and costs can add up quickly. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned, a well-done renovation can turn a nightmare into a dream home.

We turned to one of our favorite interior designers and architects, fellow old-home obsessive Steven Gambrel, who has restored and renovated a number of 18th-and 19th-century homes in and around New York, such as the 1853-built Captain Overton House in Sag Harbor, to learn about what to expect and what to look for when restoring a historic home.

Living in an old house is an obligation. As a must-have, do you count on things like underfloor heating—or even just something like an evenly heated or cooled space? Then living in an older house, with its irregularities, might not be for you.

If you’re going to buy a historic home because you like the old wavy glass windows and the vibe of the floors, “understand that you won’t be able to have some of the comforts that are part of 21st-century life.”

“I would do anything to keep that undulating glass in the windows, even if that means having to have a draughty room,” adds Gambrel. I would just put on a different jersey. But if you’re not that person, then that’s not the right house for you. “

Water damage is the enemy

“Water damage is serious, important, and needs to be addressed,” says Gambrel. Water damage has long-term effects, such as dry rot. Insects also like wet environments. “

Keep an eye out—especially around ceilings, floors, and windows—for signs of water damage. That could be a warning sign of serious structural problems.

Something to pay special attention to is the sill plate. The sill plate is the lower horizontal part of the structure that wraps around the entire foundation. All vertical structural supports for the house are attached to the sill plate.

“The sill plate is most vulnerable to water because it is close to the wet ground,” Gambrel says. If the floors are skewed, it could be because of a warped sill plate because that’s the entire structure the house stands on.

Put together a team to assist you

A contractor and an inspector can help estimate the amount of work needed and its cost. But it can be helpful to research people with experience in historic preservation.

You need a local historian or contractor who restores historic homes. They can provide the most helpful and tell you about the recovery process that needs to be done, “says Gambrel.

And above all, anyone you take with you should understand your ultimate goal of restoring the property. “A lot of people don’t understand the difference between saving and …

Blog Historical

Types of foundations found in construction projects

Whether building single-family homes, skyscrapers or superstructures, choosing the right foundation is essential. The foundation of a building serves two main purposes: to distribute the weight of the load-bearing walls to the soil or bedrock below and to keep out groundwater or soil moisture.

The topography, geology, and soil science (the study of soil) at your construction site and the size of your building, and other factors, such as the type of construction, determine the type of foundation that is right for your building.

In this article, we’ll cover the most common foundation types and examples of each. We also provide visual evidence of each foundation to clarify the benefits of each type of foundation as well as professional patio installation examples when using a foundation-based approach to the concrete slab.

What are the types of foundations?

Since the land beneath our feet can be made up of many different types of soils, rocks, sediments, and more, geotechnical engineers need to understand how these variables within the earth affect its structure and structural integrity.

There are two main categories of foundations in construction: deep and shallow. Let’s cover them at a high level:

Deep Fundamentals

Deep foundations are required when building on sand and other soft soil that cannot support the load of the building. Instead, a foundation must be built deep underground or even underwater, where stronger strata can be established.

Bridges, piers, and dams, for example, must provide foundations underwater while preserving structural integrity, and this is where deep foundations become essential for the construction of large structures.

Shallow foundations

Usually, a shallow foundation is wider than a deep, and shallow foundations can also be called staggered or open foundations.

For obvious reasons, shallow foundations are the more economical of the two types, and they don’t require much digging or drilling into the earth, and for that reason, they are the most common.

Shallow foundations are useful if the building is not extremely heavy and the ground at a shallow depth can support significant weight.

Examples of shallow foundations

We will cover four examples of shallow foundations: slab, individual foundation, combined foundation, and trunk wall. Each has a unique structure and different usage scenarios.

Matt Foundation

A slab foundation makes the most of the surface where the building will be erected, essentially using the basement as the entire load-bearing foundation. Mat foundations are often used when the soil is loose and weak, and the weight needs to be evenly distributed.

Mat foundations are also used when a basement is feasible, and the pillars or columns are close together. It is often called a raft foundation because the basement foundation is submerged in the ground like the hull of a raft in the water.

Individual support

One of the most common types of shallow foundations is the individual foundation – it may even be what comes to mind when you think of a foundation.

Individual or insulated staggered foundations are usually square, rectangular, or even a geometric truncated block …


Building Historical Fiction Buildings From Books

“Literature”: It is defined as “writing formed with words”. Humanity has been dependent on literature for centuries. It has been a refuge for their opinions, expressions, and desires. Within these words, beautiful worlds are evoked. Words have the power to create, transform, and destroy. This power allows them to build a world in the reader’s imagination. We want these literary worlds to become our reality. Some architects have tried to merge these academic worlds with ground reality. 

Let’s take a walk through these realms where literary worlds merge into the real world.

Woodlyn Park’s Hobbit Motel

Location: Woodlyn Park, New Zealand.

In a hole in the ground lived a hobbit. Not a filthy, dirty, wet den, filled with worm tips and a musty smell, nor a dry, bare, sandy den with nothing in it to sit on or eat: it was a hobbit den, and that means comfort. ” This is the description given by JRR Tolkien in his famous work “The Hobbit”.

These words seem to have laid the foundation for the hobbit motel units in Woodlyn Park. In terms of design and appearance, the whimsical lodging is reminiscent of the hobbit dwellings. It is a popular place for tourists who want to get a taste of hobbit life in a rural setting.

XL-Muse’s Yangzhou Zhongshuge

Location: Yangzhou, China.

The bookshop is set in the part of Yangzhou that was historically popular among the literati. The paradisiacal quality of the location was the guiding principle for the designers. The concept of the bookstore is borrowed from Chinese literature. A verse from the Chinese classic “Dream of the Red Room” set the mill in motion for the realization of this project. 

The symbolization of water and bridges can be clearly seen in the bookshop. The architects saw the bookshop as a link between the past and present and between books and people—the black mirror floor and arched bookshelves transport visitors to an Elysian world of literature. 

Abbotsford – Sir Walter Scott’s home

Location: Galashiels, Scotland

“Waverly” is one of the most famous works of Sir Walter Scott’s prose career. Historical fiction caused ripples in literary circles. The book welcomed the reader into the world of the 18th-century Scottish aristocracy. The novel also attracted attention for the picturesque description of the noble architecture in it.

The Tully-Veolan Castle, the residence of one of the main characters in Waverly, plays a pivotal role in the book. Sir Walter Scott himself was quite enamored with this particular residence, which he had conjured up in his novel. The book inspired the design of his home, “Abbotsford”. This Scottish-style mansion is a major tourist destination. It is preserved today as a symbol of Scottish architectural and literary history.

The Sherlock Holmes Museum

London, United Kingdom, is the location.

The address “221B Baker Street” is engraved in the memory of every Sherlock Holmes fan. Although it was a fictitious address by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, it seemed authentic to most readers. This compelling desire must have …

Historical Tips and Tricks

Finding The Right Contractor For Your Historic Home

Hiring a historic contractor to restore a home can be a daunting task that requires thorough vetting to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Restoring your historic home is a major project that requires a lot of skill and care. Therefore, finding the right contractor to work with is crucial. While the vetting process can be tedious, following this recruiting guide will simplify it.

Historic home restoration or renovation?

Essentially, restoring a house means bringing it back to its original condition, while renovating means adding something new.

If you want to preserve the features of your historic homes, such as classic cornices and stained glass windows, restoring is the way to go. Landmark home restoration allows you to preserve all the old home features while refurbishing them to look nearly brand new again.

Renovation usually means starting over, and it’s a great option if you prefer a more modern space. During a renovation, you (or your contractor) take out old cabinets, floors, appliances, etc., to replace them with brand new versions. This usually takes more time, labor, and materials, making renovation more expensive than restoration.

Some contractors are experts at restoring historic home features, while others are better at renovations: research, the professional who is right for your project before doing groundbreaking work.

The historic charm of older homes can come with hidden plumbing issues that you need to fix.

Before Hiring a Historic Home Restoration Specialist

First of all, call your local heritage office, historical society, or house museum. The folks there may have suggestions for reputable contractors to work with. You can also ask them about historic home restorations you’ve seen and liked in your area to determine who worked on them. “

Renovating historic homes is more than a job for a general contractor; it’s a passion, “said Bob Tschudil, an Angi Expert Review Board member and general contractor in Raleigh, NC. If your contractor is not enthusiastic about the historical part, you should find another contractor. Historic renovation often requires extra work to make it historically “correct.”

Do your research before hiring a contractor to restore your historic home. Break out that yellow notepad and list potential contractors or companies you want to work with. Check out everyone’s past work and read as many customer reviews as possible to understand their skill level.

Check Your Historic Home Restoration Contractor’s Qualifications and References

When deciding which contractor to hire to restore your historic home, make sure it is fully qualified, licensed, and insured. Licensing requirements vary from state to state, so check your state’s requirements online.

Check the contractor’s or company’s license and see how long they’ve been in business. The longer they’ve worked on historic homes, the more experienced (and skilled) they’ll be.

After you’ve vetted the contractor thoroughly, talk to people they’ve worked within the past. It’s best to target past clients with projects similar to yours, and they can let you know how their overall experience was. And, if possible, you can request a visit to …