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Should You Rehab Your Old Home or Tear It Down?

There’s no denying that older homes have a certain appeal. While modern construction seems to produce little more than cookie-cutter structures with no personality, older homes often feature originality in design, not to mention plenty of visual appeal in the form of wooden, well, everything – not just flooring and cabinetry, but also stairs, banisters, ceiling beams, and so on. And we’re talking beautiful hardwoods replete with the glossy patina of age, stuff you just can’t find in modern homes. Plus, you’ll no doubt enjoy old-timey throwbacks like radiators and claw-foot tubs. At least, you’ll love all of these things right up until you move in and realize how old they are.

Let’s face it; old homes have problems. Hardwood floors, while gorgeous, are prone to warping over time due to temperature and humidity fluctuations, which could leave you with uneven flooring, creaks and squeaks, and potentially even a hazard if they’re in true disrepair. And radiators are loud and fussy; why do you think modern HVAC systems superseded them? You could also face issues with outdated plumbing and electrical systems that simply weren’t designed to handle the demands of modern living. Then there are all the regular problems of maintenance and upkeep to consider, from weather stripping and seals on windows and doors to the state of the shingles on the roof. The point is that you could dump a lot of money into an older home and never be done with repairs.

So the question is: should you rehabilitate your older home to preserve its particular appeal or should you simply tear it down and start from scratch? Consider, for a moment, what you might do with a classic car. If you planned to use it as a showpiece you would almost certainly want to restore it to mint condition while using as many of the original parts as possible. On the other hand, if you wanted to drive it every day you might make it appear original outwardly while adding newer amenities like fuel injectors, disc brakes, and an MP3 dock, for example. You can approach your older home in the same way.

The thing to keep in mind is that restoration is a labor of love. You will put a lot more time and money into the process than if you simply knock your house down. But by the same token, you’ll end up with a house that not only meets your needs in terms of functionality, but also one that retains all of the unique style you fell in love with. Certainly you can save yourself some money and heartache by simply rebuilding the house complete with modern everything. But you’ll lose something in the process. Another option, however, is to demo the house carefully, salvaging as much of the original as you can in order to reuse it as you build. This can offer a workable compromise that allows you to keep the hardwoods and fixtures you love while getting all of the interior elements (plumbing, electrical, insulation, etc.) brand new. Then it’s just a matter of adding finishing touches like furnishings and garden water fountains that will turn an old home into YOUR home.

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