New York City Heritage Home

New York City Heritage House | © Rachel Martin

There is a certain charm about homes that were built decades ago. They offer a glimpse of the past and function as heritage attractions in the places where they stand. It’s no wonder that governments and private organizations spend millions of dollars to preserve homes with historical value.

In New York City, preservation efforts are overseen by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which establishes historic districts in the Big Apple. In some cases, property owners themselves do all the legwork in repairing and refurbishing their buildings. If you own such an architectural treasure, follow these steps:

1. Know where to get financing

Before anything else, consider how much you will be spending on the project. Have the property assessed so you will have a good idea of the scope of work and the cost. You could end up with a large bill depending on the size of the property and the amount of work that’s needed. It’s possible to pay out of pocket for a minor restoration, but when it comes to major preservation activities, consider local and national preservation grants.

2. Get an experienced Architect

Restoring old buildings is not only costly but also complicated. The challenge lies in making the property appear new without changing the design and original features. Find a prominent architect who has experience in historical preservation so you can reduce the risk of damaging the building or changing its overall appearance.

3. Consult a local historian

Preservation requires a team effort. You not only need an architect, but you also have to get advice from a local historian. Their input can help you come up with design choices that will reflect the property’s original style. If you aim to turn the home into a museum, a historian can offer suggestions on which interior details and decorations to install.

4. Replace worn-down parts

Older buildings are at risk of termite infestation and deterioration. As much as you want to preserve natural wooden floor planks that have seen better days, it would be wiser to replace these parts with near-identical ones. If the entire floor system is dilapidated, you may have to consider replacing the planks or opting for a different floor design. At this point, it’s still important to ensure that the end result will preserve the look and feel of the building.

5. Don’t forget to apply for a permit

Renovations require local approval before they are initiated, so it’s important to know which permits you need to get. For that, you only need to ask how construction and renovation permits work in the area where the property is located. If you live in New South Wales in Australia, ask your local council for rules that exempt and complying development rules.

6. Add new features 

Preservation is not just about bringing the past back to life. It’s also about improving the property so it appeals to modern tastes. You may want to add extra green space around the building or build a rooftop deck that’s perfect for intimate gatherings. No matter what you prefer, updating a historical building can help keep it standing for another decade.

If your home is a historical marvel, then it’s worth keeping in the long run. Give it new life by using these preservation tips.