“I have a log cabin home in Ross, built in 1857. I’m often choosing between home restoration, maintenance and improvement. What are some good guidelines for how to think about these projects?”
I would start by putting any home restoration, maintenance or improvement project under consideration into one of two categories:
Business before pleasure; the Functional:
Any home has systems, and very few of them deserve to be preserved past their service life. Electrical, plumbing, heating, air conditioning, fire protection, data and phone, sound and intercom are infrastructural systems, and they all deteriorate and/or become obsolete with time. When they do, their conditions are either a health and safety issue, an excessive energy consumption issue, or a reason for a potential buyer to lower their offer in order to pay for elimination or deferred upgrades. Also, there is a market expectation that homes for sale will have systems that are mostly still within their expected service life.
So the question becomes: “Can I retain the authentic and original log-cabin look and feel of the house and still have it meet current electrical codes, and can I be as warm as I’d like to be in the winter in my own house?” The answer is almost certainly yes!
If done with a significant sensitivity to its architectural language, these home restoration upgrades or replacements will have a minimal or zero impact on the look and feel of your home.
Now the FUN part; the Aesthetic:
Speaking of language, your home has one! Depending on the era it was built, the budget available for construction, and the original purpose of building it, it’s language may vary from the exotic to the sublime to the home-spun.
To define your home’s unique lexicon, look to the doors (if they are original), the casings, baseboards, crown moldings and railings to start your investigation. Next, note the floor and wall coverings, the bathroom fixtures, the look and feel of the kitchen(s); and finally the exterior shapes, flourishes, finishes (stucco or shingles?) and roof style to complete your assessment. All these aspects and features of your home define its root character, its artistic statement.
Here’s the general rule (there are always exceptions): Improvements for additional space should match the language of the home; and, whenever possible, should look to restore the original look and feel of the space if it has been lost.
The older a home gets, the more likely it is to have been remodeled (sometimes significantly) in the past. These projects were done with various level of success in keeping the original look and feel, and quite often have nothing to do with the intentions of the original designer. That usually shows.
Your task, then, is to retain a design (or design-build) firm who will know when to follow and when to break the rules in pursuit of a home restoration finished product that will appreciably amplify your overall happiness in this life; and if re-sale is important to you, will enhance your investment rather than detract from it.
A sufficiently talented team can provide both.
Got a question about your home? Here’s your chance to ask the “Design-Build Advisor!” Give us a call at 415-459-3349 or send your question to john@theperfectbuilder and we’ll answer either in this blog or by e-mail.