On 09 April by Goodyear Heights in , , , , ,    No comments
One of the most common questions people ask about owning older homes has to do with the best ways to repair them or improve them. One of the things that helps maintain the historic character of Goodyear Heights is the design of the homes—many of which represent excellent examples of residential architecture 100 years ago. The more you can retain some of that original design integrity, the more you home may be worth in the long run, and the more it adds to the neighborhood. In one sense, maintaining and repairing an old house is almost akin to the pledge that doctors take--First, Do No Harm--which is to say, it's best not to rush ahead and remove or destroy a period detail that you might miss later.  Today, we’ll talk a little bit about repairs.

Maintaining that historic look? It’s not always easy. People say, “they don’t build them like that anymore” – and it’s certainly true. When most Goodyear Heights houses were built, hardwood floors, oak woodwork, French doors, fireplaces, wood windows and even slate roofs were the norm. If your house still has them, it’s best to try and repair or restore them, if possible—since brand new replacements aren’t cheap.

The same goes for a home’s exterior. If your home still sports its original stucco, brick or wooden shingle/clapboard exterior, it’s always best to make a good, solid repair than to replace or hide a problem with a newer or cheaper material, like vinyl siding.

But what if repair isn’t possible?  First of all, it’s important to know that there’s nothing that can’t be fixed the right way, if you’re determined to make it happen. There are craftsmen who still know how to correctly point brick, repair stucco and cedar shingle siding, fix a plaster wall or refinish old woodwork. It may cost a little more, but your house will retain more of its value and the chances are, those repairs—if done right—will look better and last far longer than a quick fix or a cheap substitute.

If you can’t find a match for an original material, or you simply don’t have the budget to repair something the way you’d like, you can still help protect your investment by making smart choices. Here’s a few ideas:

Siding – Replacing old, rotted clapboards is still preferable to re-siding with aluminum or vinyl. Correctly prepared, and using today’s better paints, sections of that old siding can still be fixed and remain easier to maintain. A better alternative than vinyl are wood-like substitutes like Hardie-board, or cement-board, which match wood in appearance but don’t rot. Even some of today’s better vinyl siding is improved over cheap varieties—many types are designed to mimic older styles of wooden siding.

Roofs – A lot of houses in the Heights had slate roofs, the cost of which is beyond the reach of most people today. If you can replace some slates, great. If not, many modern substitutes are available that have a similar look to the original.

Windows – windows can be a real issue. The original windows in these houses will always look better than any modern replacement, but it’s also true that they were mostly single-pane, true divided-light windows that really don’t meet today’s standards in terms of energy efficiency. If you’re lucky, you may have some original storm windows—but few people like the idea of taking them off and storing them every summer. There are also new types of storm windows that are designed to fit on the inside of the house—and they are much thinner and lighter, too. If replacements are a must, seek ones that look as close to the original as possible, with true divided-lights (or at least removable window grilles) rather than full plates of sheet glass.

Exterior Details – porch railings, doors and trim: The modern-style railings you see on a new home’s rear deck won’t look right on an old house. Exterior trim—like soffits, verge boards on gables and window surrounds, should be repaired to look as much like the original as possible. Maintain the scale and appearance, and remember it’s OK to use modern, no-rot materials like Azek PVC for these repairs, too. That will cut down on future maintenance. If you must replace an original door, you can almost always find a new one that will match it. The good news is—most of the detailing found on Goodyear Heights houses is attractive but fairly simple in design—so there’s no need for fancy Victorian “gingerbread” trim.

Those are just a few tips that can help in your decision-making. As time goes on, we’ll provide more in-depth information and resources that can help you improve and maintain your home in a way that preserves its value and historic character. We’ll get into some other issues, like modern updates, additions and even garages—in the future.


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