Should You Restore Or Replace Old Features In Your Home?

Mar 24 2021
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Well when asked whether I would do everything in power to restore something old or replace it I think you guys already know my answer. Back in the day when I remodeled this home it was literally the hardest thing I had ever done in my life. But my dad pegged it when he told me I wasn’t remodeling or renovation… Not really. No – I was restoring. Looking back even if I could have hired the work here out I would not have. I simply would not have trusted anyone to keep all that I did and truly restore this home.

Bedroom Reveal - Completing my New Guest Bedroom Unisex Redesign! Adding a power grommet to the desk and redesigning the shelves and adding storage(This is a contributed post, for more information about my compensation please read my disclosure policy)

When old features in your home start to get worn and damaged, you’ll have to decide whether to restore them or replace them. Both restoring and replacing can have their benefits. Below is a guide on the pros of both restoring and replacing – and how you can decide which option is right for you.

Why restore?

Restoring a feature involves keeping as much of the original materials as possible while fixing any damage. For instance, if  your home’s  old floorboards have become damaged, it could involve sanding them down and sealing them to improve their condition while maintaining the original timber. There are several benefits to restoring:

Historical preservation

An old feature is a piece of history. Preserving it is a way of keeping the past alive. In very old buildings, you may even find that there are laws in place preventing you from making certain improvements due to the building being of historical importance. 

Character

Old features play an important part in the character of an old home. These features may be hand-crafted and unique to your home. They may even help to tell a story of the previous owner or the time period of which it was constructed. This is a major reason as to why people restore old features. 

Value

Restoring old features can help an old home to retain its value. Buyers are attracted to old homes primarily because of the historic features that they contain. When you take away old features, you take away a big selling point – which could result in your home losing value. Preserve old features in your home and it may even gain value as a result. 

Sustainability

It’s usually more sustainable to restore instead of replacing. When you replace a feature, you end up having to use new materials – and possibly throwing away the old materials. Restoring allows you to work with the materials that are already there, while making only small additions such as replacing screws or adding sealant. 

Why replace?

Replacing a feature involves throwing away the old feature and adding a new feature in its place. There are times when this can be the more sensible option – particularly when it is severely damaged and poses certain risks. Below are just a few good reasons to replace instead of restoring. 

Safety

Replacing something could be a matter of safety. Old knob and tube wiring may be a glimpse into the past, but it could also be a fire risk. In other cases, replacing could be safer than restoring – removing lead paint from a window sill could be dangerous and it may be safer to simply replace it. 

Security

Old windows or old doors could pose a security risk. By opting for a newer replacement, you could help to protect your property against burglars. Restoring an old door or window may not always be able to improve security. 

Energy efficiency

Features such as old windows and old roofing could be causing your home to lose heat. Replacing these features with modern features could help to insulate your home and reduce energy bills. Old mechanical features such as old boilers or old ovens may be particularly worth replacing if they are consuming a lot of gas or electricity. 

Time saved

Replacing is usually a quicker process than restoring. If you need a problem fixed immediately, it may be a better option to replace rather than restore.

So should I restore or replace?

On top of weighing up these benefits, it could be worth considering a few other factors before deciding to repair or replace an old feature in your home. Here are just a few other considerations you may want to make.

Assess the age

There’s a big difference between replacing a window from the 1950s and a window from the 1850s. Both could be considered old features, but the latter clearly contains more history and is a feature you should try to preserve. 

If you are not sure whether a feature is original or not, it may be worth hiring an expert to take a look. You may feel less guilty about replacing an imitation old fireplace than an original one. 

Assess the damage

It’s possible that a feature may be damaged beyond restoration. For instance, old floorboards may be so rotten that it may make more practical sense to gut them out – they could be a safety risk and there may be little you can do to save them. On the other hand, damage may only be surface level, in which case restoration may be the better option.

Damage can sometimes be hidden. In other cases, a feature may look more damaged than it really is. For this reason, it’s often worth calling in experts to give their opinion – they may be able to tell you exactly how rotten a wooden beam is or exactly how rusted a metal gate is. 

Weigh up the costs

It’s worth weighing up the cost of replacing vs the cost of restoring. In some cases, replacing could be a lot cheaper. In other cases, restoring could cost a lot less. By shopping around for quotes, you’ll be able to work out which is more affordable and within your budget. 

On top of this, consider how the value of your home is likely to be affected. Replacing something old can often have a more negative impact on the value, although it depends on how old and prominent the feature is as well as the practical advantages. 

In other words, if you plan to sell your home in the near future, getting rid of an old fireplace may not be such a good idea as it could take a lot of value away. However, replacing an old leaky pipe will generally not reduce any value.

Do the job properly

Whatever option you choose, it’s important to do the job properly. A bad restoration job or a bad replacement job may eliminate the benefits of either.

When restoring, hire someone who knows what they’re doing. A good conservator may be able to repair the damage and maintain the original appearance while also possibly finding ways to modernise the feature such as reinforcing an old door to provide extra security.

When replacing, you should similarly hire a professional company that understands the building. There are professional window replacement companies as found here that can replace windows while matching the style of your home. This may help to prevent any loss of value to the home, while providing you with more secure and more energy-efficient windows.

Preserving features in the future

You can prevent old features from having to be replaced or restored by protecting them against damage. This could include adopting a strict maintenance schedule/

For instance, an old hardwood floor can be preserved by sweeping it regularly, cleaning up spillages immediately and using a hardwood cleaner monthly. It’s also worth keeping an eye out for damp or pests so that you can attend to these problems quickly and mitigate any further damage.

You can find guides online on how to preserve old features in your home. Often this preservation is quite straightforward – keep it clean, avoid excess exposure to moisture and keep away pests. Old features like chimneys may benefit from being regularly by a professional (especially if you’re still using them).

Well when asked whether I would do everything in power to restore something old or replace it I think you guys already know my answer.
(This is a contributed post, for more information about my compensation please read my disclosure policy)

Comments

  1. Marian Diehl
    March 30, 2021 at 8:11 am

    Tara, I enjoy your news letter every Sunday, I love to find out what you and Lodi are up to with your house. My husband and I with every home that we have owned we have remodeled the house to the point that it was time to move on to the next one. Now that we are much older and have worn ourselves out to the point that I really don’t want to work on our home anymore. Just want to enjoy our free time together. Hope that you and Lodi can take time to also just enjoy your time together someday too! Stay safe out there. Have a good one – Marian

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