Thinking About Buying a Historic Home in Maryland?

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5 Questions to Consider Before you sign on the Dotted line

Purchasing a historic home can feel overwhelming.  The architecture, the charm, and the history in the walls can possess a certain allure, but it can also leave a potential owner full of questions and concerns regarding the purchase.  Unlike today’s building codes, historic homes were constructed out of a myriad of materials and with many methods.  Read on to discover five questions that any potential homeowner should ask themselves before making a final offer:

1) How do I know that my home is historic, and how important is that to me?

The first thing to investigate when buying an older home is the extent of its historical identity.  Unfortunately, this isn’t always an easy question to answer as some will inform you that a home is considered historic at 50 years old, and others will point you to specific guidelines.

If you are simply looking for the charm of an older home, the 50 year guideline may be perfectly acceptable – it will provide the warmth, architecture, and features of times past.  On the other hand, if you are seeking a home that has a deep historic identity, you’ll want to do some research.  Here are a few places to begin your search:

National Register of Historic Places:

Maryland Historical Trust:

University of Maryland Historical Preservation Guides:

2) Are there any Deed Restrictions or Easements Present?

A deed restriction can be placed on a historical property and can restrict what can be built on the property, and how it can be used.  Some commonly seen deed restrictions that may be complicating are:

  • Obstruction of a neighbor’s view
  • Type and height of fence
  • Tree removal restrictions
  • Business operation restrictions

If the historic home is located in a local historic district, you may find very detailed and stringent deed restrictions.  Otherwise, deed restrictions tend to be typical.

A historic preservation easement may dictate what can and cannot be done to the property regarding demolition, renovation, and restoration along with subdividing and developing restrictions.  Purchasing a home with a historic preservation easement may seem daunting, but it comes with benefits such as tax deductions.  See our blog post here (link to post) to learn more about tax deductions on historic homes.

3) What is the Overall Condition of the Historic Home?

There are many areas of a home that should be investigated before purchasing.  In some cases, the condition may not be clearly evident and hiring a home inspector that has experience and knowledge regarding historic homes is always a good choice.  Some areas of the home that that need to be examined thoroughly are:

  • Roof
  • Walls
  • Porch
  • Window
  • Basement
  • Electrical
  • Attic

Irvine homes can perform an overview inspection of the general health of the structure and indicate any major problems that would require repair.  Learn more: Historic Home Purchase Evaluation Services(link).

4) What would I like to Change About this Home After I buy?

Whether a home is young or old, a potential buyer may find things that they’d like to change so that the home better suits their needs and desires.  Do you just LOVE that cozy stone fireplace, but wish the room was larger?  Do you need that dark and damp basement turned into a sporty recreation room?  Would a mudroom, another bathroom or a modernized kitchen increase your quality of living?  If so, consult a company that specializes in the renovation of historic homes before you buy.

Irvine construction has 30 years of experience restoring and renovating historical homes throughout Maryland.  In Rockville, Maryland a homeowner desired a renovation and addition that harmonized with their early 1900’s home.  The results were stunning, as seen below!  Making changes to a historical home can be done professionally and elegantly by an experienced contractor.

5) Is this the Perfect home for my Budget?

Last, but certainly not least, is to perform an analysis of overall cost compared to available budget.  After receiving an inspection from a historic home inspector that states the needed repairs and having created a wish list full of desires and needed renovations and additions, you will have an idea of the overall project scope.  At that point, it will be time to consult with reputable professionals that offer renovations, additions, and restorations of historic homes such as Irvine Construction to reach a final number and make a final decision.

By asking yourself these five questions and consulting with the required professionals, you can rest assured that you’ve covered all bases of historic home ownership and can feel confident in your final offer for the purchase of dream historic home.  Historic homes have the charm, history, and appeal of the past and the effort required during the purchase process will be rewarded as you relax in the comforts of your charming home for many years to come.

Irvine construction is a remodeling company that offers home improvements, home renovations, home additions and home remodeling throughout Maryland. Our specialty and experience is in historic homes. Contact us today or fill out the form below to learn more!

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