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

If you’ve been checking through Youtube videos and watching HGTV shows, you know that a fresh coat of paint or a power wash may not get the job completely done. When working on vintage homes, you have to make sure your renovation projects enhance the historic features of your home. Some projects may sound like a great idea, but will actually take away from the character of the home. Changing the aesthetic of your vintage home can drastically change its value. Here are a few reasons why you should hire a professional to work on your historic home.

1. Your Project Might Not Pass Local Building Codes

Before starting your DIY renovation project, you should have a home inspector stop by and check your plans. Cosmetic changes may be easy to do, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will pass building codes. Any home improvement projects should be completed by an experienced professional. You need someone who will ensure that all the structural, electrical, and plumbing work does not compromise with safety regulations. However, if you do plan to do some upgrades yourself, make sure to get everything examined. I would advise you to keep copies of all proofs of fulfillments of codes and municipal inspections. 

If your home is located in a historic neighborhood, you might not get permission to make changes to the exterior. Many historic neighborhoods require the homeowners to maintain the historical accuracy of the color palettes and themes of the houses. Even slight changes can affect the property value of the entire neighborhood. So, before starting a DIY renovation project, make sure you check all the rules and regulations. I would recommend looking at the Illinois Restoration and Resources Guide and City of Chicago Department of Buildings as starting points. 

2. Videos Are Not Exactly Practical Training

Before you can install any kinds of fixtures like electricals, HVACs, plumbing, or faucets, you are required to have specific training. Today it is easy to find TV shows or videos showing you how easy it is to do these things. Don’t get fooled- these things aren’t as easy to do as they seem. When working with vintage homes it is important to understand the techniques and building styles that you’re working with. Historic homes tend to have unique architecture, and renovating them takes a lot of time and knowledge. Hiring an experienced contractor is always recommended for the best and safest results. 

Errors like switching wires between hot and cold plumbing can be potentially hazardous. When doing DIY projects on vintage homes, you may have to invest more than just money and sweat equity. Lack of expertise will cause you to invest a lot of time into these projects. If you can only work over the weekend and holidays, completing the DIY renovation project could take way longer than expected. 


3. Licensed Contractors Pay Attention to Details

Improper remodeling always leads to additional problems down the line. For example, when you’re working on a kitchen remodel, you have to make sure 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 will create water seepage, and it can quickly begin to rot. This can also happen to your basement, without proper waterproofing you can find yourself dealing with dampness, puddles, rotting wood, and even mold. A licensed contractor will be able to examine the history of the neighborhood to identify any previous flooding or water damage. They will be able to advise you on the best way to tackle the problems safely and effectively, while ensuring the long-term structural integrity of the home. 


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 example, you might find that the hardwood flooring is concealing severe water damage and needs extensive repairs. Sometimes you might find that the ventilation system directs air from the exhaust fans and appliances into an enclosed space. A result of this would be moisture, toxins, and dirt circulating throughout your home creating mold. When these issues arise it is necessary to work with an experienced contractor to make your home safe again.


Remodeling vintage and historic homes is challenging in more ways than one. When you lack the experience and training, the project will not only take longer, but will cost you more. When dealing with vintage homes it is always recommended to work with an experienced contractor. At Augustyn Builders Inc., we have tons of experience working in historic neighborhoods and homes. If you’re interested in starting the remodeling process of your vintage home, give us a call or fill out our contact form, we’ll help you get started. https://www.augustyncorporation.com/contact/