The St. Croix Valley has many lovely older homes that are remnants of the area’s lumber-era origins. Their charm and craftsmanship make older neighborhoods unique and desirable places to live. Most communities with deep historical roots have preservation guidelines and review processes in place to protect the local character. If you’re considering an older home renovation project, your first step should be to research the history of the home and the neighborhood. The city website and local library are good starting points. Contact the city administrator for information about approval processes.
If the home is located within a designated historic district, any exterior work will likely be reviewed by the planning commission and/or a heritage preservation commission. Each city has its own standards. Usually renovation work is encouraged to reflect the architectural style of the house, using materials that would have been authentic to the times. Structural additions and renovation details, such as windows, siding and paint color, may come under review.
An architect who is familiar with local and architectural history will be able to create an exterior elevation that respects the original style of the house while serving your modern lifestyle. A builder that’s experienced in old home renovations is equally important. The rule of renovation is to expect the unexpected. An experienced, craftsman-level builder will know how to handle things in the most cost efficient and safest manner: For example, would it cost less to restore a deteriorating column or build a new one? Is the problem purely aesthetic, or is it compromising structural integrity?
There are many steps to complete before actual renovation can begin. You’ll need architectural drawings and maybe a site survey to get through the approval process. Timing can be critical to prevent long delays. Many cities require approval by the planning commission, which only meets once a month. Miss it by a day and you’ll be delayed until the next month. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Realize there’s a lot you don’t know and rely on your architect and builder to guide you through the complexities.
Learn more about a Stillwater, MN historic home renovation opportunity with Cates Fine Homes.