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5 Features of Old Homes You Shouldn't Change

Posted by Ken Meyer on Tue, Sep 18, 2018

Two people planning renovations on their new homeIf you are thinking about buying and renting out an old home, you may be tempted to update it. However, you should think carefully about what to update...and what to leave unchanged. Obviously, you should replace bad wiring and improve the air conditioning, but here are some features you should leave untouched:

Hardwood floors.

Hardwood floors can last for decades, and people love hardwood. In fact, many old homes have hardwood flooring you simply can't get any more or can't get at a reasonable price. Instead of removing the floor or carpeting over it, sand it down and refinish. (If the nail heads are visible, then it is time to replace it.


If the home still has the original window frames and they are in decent condition, keep them. Instead add weather-stripping, storm windows or low-emissive glass to the existing windows. Windows are vital to a home's character. Also, many older homes are built with the right kind of windows for the climate and changing this can result in an increase in heating bills or the loss of valuable ventilation.

Molding and trim.

Avoid stripping molding from the edges of ceilings and trim from doors. Instead, use a paint scheme that draws attention - a neutral contrasting shade or, for a subtler effect, paint in the same color as the ceiling or wall, but gloss not matte. If the windows have a nice trim, then use in-window shades so your window dressing does not cover the trim.


In-window shutters are often painted over. Restoring them is a challenge but helps reintroduce a feature which helps reduce heating and cooling bills and makes the house more "quirky." Outside shutters add to curb appeal, especially if many of the houses on the street have them.

Trunk lifts and dumbwaiters.

If the house has a functional trunk lift (a narrow elevator designed for packages) or dumbwaiter, keep it and restore it. Both can be handy for moving packages up and down stairs, and trunk lifts can hold a single person. They are most often found in row houses. In some cases, a trunk lift can be expanded to a full-sized elevator, depending on the configuration of the house.


If your old house has features modern houses lack, then it is always worth considering whether keeping them will actually increase the value of the home and attract a new owner. For more information about renovating and improving an investment property, or if you need financing, contact us today.


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