The Challenges of Repairing and Replacing Vintage Homes

Victorian Home

Repairing and replacing vintage homes can be more challenging than work on homes of modern construction. This is true even if the vintage and modern homes are of similar size, quality and style. This is due to the complexity in repairing or replacing vintage construction, difficulty finding contractors for this type of work, and the additional effort needed to find replacement materials for these structures.

Fewer builders have the expertise or willingness to work with these types of homes. The smaller pool of builders, increased difficulty finding materials, and different and more highly skilled labor needed, it is more costly to restore these buildings.

What are vintage buildings? It’s not just 1890’s Victorian homes. Homes built prior to around 1947 have vintage materials that are not commonly used in construction today. The construction techniques and the materials were not standardized as they were after 1947. The homes typically have plaster walls instead of sheetrock, true dimensional lumber, custom door and crown molding, and other period materials. While the kitchens and bathrooms are the rooms most often updated with modern materials, the entire house may not have been gutted and updated.

The article, Lessons From Restoring a Fire-Damaged Home, from The Journal of Light Construction (JLC), provides a details chronology of the restoration of one vintage home partially damaged by fire. It highlights some of the difficulties encountered while restoring this Victorian home.

Historic registry homes have higher overall replacement costs.

At e2Value, we are sometimes asked by users why we include the foundation costs in the replacement costs. These users want to exclude the foundations in the replacement cost. They feel that the foundations could be re-used for the rebuild. However, builders and architects typically do not want to build on a compromised foundation—even a potentially compromised foundation. That concern was covered in the JLC article. The contractor knew he couldn’t use the existing garage foundation even though the insurance company initially wanted him to.

Historic Registries

Older homes can also present challenges when they are listed in historic registries or found in historic districts. Setting the right replacement value is important so that carriers provide coverage for the higher costs of restoring these homes.

Insuring registry homes or homes in historic districts creates challenges in the form of higher claim costs and a higher overall replacement cost of the home. Higher costs are the result of the additional oversight in the planning process, which increases the cost and timeframe necessary for approval. There are rules in place concerning what and/or how interior and exterior features can be restored. While there might be lower cost options, the builder may not be allowed to choose that option.

Owners of historic registry homes tend to select builders that have the expertise to repair/replace these homes. Some builders will choose not to work on these homes considering the extra time, work and specialized skills that the homes require. This will limit the number of builders who are available to work on historic registry homes, which increases the cost of the repair/rebuild.

The e2Value estimator tools were designed to handle homes of all sizes, ages and values, including vintage and historic homes. We understand these homes and provide the options necessary to value them accurately. Whether you are looking for valuations for high-value homes, Mainstreet® homes, condos, co-ops, commercial properties, manufactured homes, log cabins, or farms and ranches, our patented estimator can quickly calculate the cost of replacing a residential, commercial or farm structure and provide you with a fast, cost-effective and accurate replacement cost valuation. Contact us for more information.