Old house restoration: achieving your dream one step at a time

By: Conrad Neuf , Contributing Writer
In: Old Houses, Old House Musings, In The News, Old House History, Historic Preservation

I really enjoy reading the many blogs on the Internet having to do with the renovation of old houses.  There are hundreds of them and just as many different styles of homes and circumstances.  Some are townhomes in the heart of a large city’s historical district, others are bungalows on small town streets, and then there are the old farmhouses located out in the countryside.  Restoration blogs are written by people of all ages and skill levels. Bloggers may be married and the project a family endeavor or they might be going solo. In many cases this is their first attempt at renovating an old house and they are joyfully documenting their journey.

One step at a time--photo from farm2.static.flickr.com

One step at a time--photo from farm2.static.flickr.com

One thing all the bloggers seem to have in common is biting off a little at a time while working on their homes.  They restore a room or two every year or maybe tackle the exterior of the home while the interior is on hold for the time being. Renovating the kitchen might have been this winter’s project and the master bedroom on the agenda for when cold weather arrives next year.  Part of the reason for this type of scheduling is that many are doing much of the work themselves while maintaining a full-time career or raising a family.  Available funding can also cause restoration phases to be staggered.  However, one step at a time these bloggers and many other old house enthusiasts are working their way to having the house of their dreams.

I can’t help but think when driving past the realtor and auction signs in the front yards of empty newer homes that many people tried to skip a few steps on their way to the American Dream.  I know there were numerous economic reasons for the many foreclosures the past several years and that many homes were lost through no fault of the homeowners.  However, I also know that many families purchased homes they couldn’t afford simply because the money was available.  Sometimes taking small steps works out better in the long run.

Where’s the Pennsylvania historic old house curatorship program?

Achieving your dream home--photo from butterflyhollow.com

Achieving your dream home--photo from butterflyhollow.com

It seems like it may be time for Pennsylvania’s historic curatorship program to get up and running.  I wrote about an old house in trouble a few posts ago and now a 300-year-old home needs some help. The home at Kerlin Farm was built in 1683 just north of Philadelphia.  The acreage the old house is on was purchased in 2009 with the intention of demolishing the home and building a new development.

Local citizens are working to save the historic house and the developer has stated they may consider including the home in their plans for the property.  Unfortunately, the demolition order has been approved and the home was scheduled to be taken down at the end of February. The only thing that may have saved it was that asbestos was found and it must be removed before the demolition can proceed. Surely this demolition of a 300-year-old house can be stopped.