New Resolutions for Old Houses

By: JoVon Sotak , Contributing Writer
In: Old House Musings

It’s 2011, and for a lot of you, today will be the first day you write or type the date as you trudge back to work. Some of us have resolved not to make those pesky new year’s resolutions, but I have the feeling that’s because sometimes we “resolve” to do things we don’t really want to do, like lose weight or go to the gym. The list is endless.

But what if we only resolved to do things that we loved to do? Resolution should then be much easier to keep and much more satisfying to keep. Don’t you agree? This year, make your old house your number one resolution for 2011. That’s one resolution that you could definitely see results from when 2012 rolls around.

Here’s a list of four ideas and projects to help you get started with your new, 2011 old house resolutions.

1. Resolve to get an energy audit.

Energy audits are time sensitive issues because energy auditors can only measure how much heat or other energy your house is losing when you’re losing it — like in winter. Everyone can bemoan that their energy bills are high and that their old house is drafty, but until you get someone more knowledgeable about it than you are to do an assessment, you’re never going to know if it’s a problem that can be improved upon.

It’s especially important to find an energy auditor who has experience with old and historical homes. Though everyone’s favorite recommendations these days for energy efficiency include installing new windows and blowing in insulation into walls and attics and any space filled with cold air, only someone experience with the architectural design and requirements of old homes can properly recommend the best way to make your old house more energy efficient without destroying its potential historical value or creating future problems like mold or cracked plaster.

2. Resolve to investigate your house’s systems.

You suspect that an electrician skipped pulling the old wiring in one room of the house. 2011 is the year to find out for sure! Have high-mineral water but haven’t drained the hot water heater since you moved in? Considering a new water system all together? 2011 is the year for that, too! Don’t skimp on annual maintenance or getting an in-home evaluation and estimate on a future project (like electrical)

3. Resolve to get quotes, even if you think you’ll know how much it’ll cost.

Hard economic times are changing local businesses — some of which aren’t in business any more. Even if you’ve had a quote from a local company, give them a call and get new quote. Call their competition and see if they’ll beat it. If the quote isn’t free, see if a company will apply the cost of the quote toward the repair or work you need completed.

4. Resolve to start that “old house slush fund.”

You’ve probably already thought, “But that costs money!” at least once so far. Yep, old houses can be spendy. But you probably knew that when you dove in. Wouldn’t it just be easier to start a fund on the side for house projects instead of having to take money from something like a vacation fund every time something needs a repair?