4 Reasons Why NOT to Try a DIY Renovation Project for Vintage Homes in Chicago

If you own or you’re thinking of purchasing a historic or vintage home in Chicago, you’ll want to make upgrades and get started on some repairs and replacements to improve its aesthetics and functionality. Many homeowners are enthusiastic about DIY renovation projects when they think about the sense of achievement that they’ll get from giving a facelift to an old place.

If you’ve been checking through YouTube videos and watching HGTV shows, know that a fresh coat of paint or a power wash may not get the best results you expect. Be extremely cautious about working on vintage homes because what you think enhances curb appeal, might actually take away from the character and elegance of the house. Further, keep in mind that you might have to sell the house at some time. Take care to avoid any additions that can lower the value of the home. Here are a few practical reasons why it’s advisable to bring in the professionals.

1. Your Project Might Not Pass Local Building Codes

Before finalizing the DIY renovation project that you intend to undertake, make sure to get a home inspector to come by and examine the plans. Any cosmetic changes that may look good need not necessarily pass building codes. You might argue that the upgrades fit your family’s requirements. But, ensure that all structural, electrical, and plumbing work does not compromise with safety regulations. For instance, if you’re remodeling a bathroom, get the plumbing and shower pan examined for integrity. Maintain a file with copies of proofs of fulfillment of the codes and municipal inspections in case you’re asked to provide them.

If the house is located in a historic community, you may not get permission to make changes to the exteriors. Most neighborhoods are keen on maintaining the historical accuracy of the color palettes and themes of the houses. Any unsightly changes can affect the property value of the entire location. So, before starting any DIY renovation project, check for the applicable regulations. The Illinois Restoration Resources Guide and City of Chicago Department of Buildings are excellent sources to use as a starting point.

2. Videos Are Not Exactly Practical Training

Installing any kind of fixtures like electricals, HVACs, plumbing, faucets, or any others that you may need, typically require training and high-grade expertise in the fields. Further, videos and TV shows provide you with an overview of the projects you can undertake. The techniques and building styles they use may not suit the original structure of the vintage home that you’re working on. Such houses typically have unique architecture, and renovating them is best left to the experts who are knowledgeable about appropriate methods.

Errors like switching wires and hot and cold plumbing can be potentially hazardous. Above all, keep in mind that you may have to invest more than just money and sweat equity. Lack of expertise typically ends up taking a lot of time. If you can only work over the weekends and holidays, completing the DIY renovation project could extend longer than you expected.


3. Licensed Contractors Pay Attention to Details

Improper remodeling invariably leads to additional problems down the line. For instance, when you’re finishing a kitchen, you must ensure that you’re using the ideal water-resistant materials. Installing wallboards, tiling, and grouting must be completed efficiently with careful attention to sealing the joints. Any gaps can result in water seepage, and rot can set in quickly. The same rule applies to basements. Without proper waterproofing, it is not uncommon to have puddles and dampness, which ultimately results in the wood rotting, termites, and formation of mold. Licensed contractors will likely examine the history of the neighborhood to identify any flooding or water damage in the past. They’ll also advise you best on how to tackle possible problems and ensure the long-term structural integrity of the house.

4. Vintage Houses May Have Old Remodeling Behind the Walls

Vintage houses have typically gone through remodeling and upgrades several times during their lifetime. Builders often take down old walls to find unexpected issues with the original structure. For instance, you might find that new hardwood flooring is concealing severe water damage and needs extensive repairs. Or, that the ventilation system directs the air from exhaust fans and appliances into a closed space. As a result, moisture, toxins, and dirt continue to circulate through the house leading to mold. An expert contractor will advise you best on how to deal with such issues at economical prices.

Remodeling vintage homes can be challenging in more ways than one. And, if you lack the expertise and training, the project could not only take longer, but you might end up investing more money. A better option is to look for contractors who are experienced in working with vintage homes. And, we’re here to help. Give us a call or contact us by filling out this form: https://www.augustyncorporation.com/contact/. We’ll stop by and make some recommendations you’re sure to like.