Tales of Boston Remodeling: Historical Restorations

From Margaret Everton on February 12, 2010 in Boston

Historical Restorations, Showers at the Gym and Other Such Trials

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If you’ve done anything in the way of remodeling, this is going to sound familiar. First, you’ve got a tight budget. Money is at a premium. Second, you’ve got to somehow live, cook, eat, sleep, maneuver, and exist in your house during the remodel. And stay sane. Third, you’ve got some zany ideas, they’re hard to verbalize to the contracting crew, and you’re not sure that you’re even going to like it if they do it. Fourth, the home has been all but ruined by previous remodelers who didn’t have a clue what “restoration” meant. Fifth, you’re running on a very short time table. Sixth, anytime you start one of the phases of the remodel, you encounter a thousand problems that you didn’t foresee. Oh, and did we mention that the house that you’re working with is 140 years old?

Welcome to a Big Challenge.

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This was the situation that Boston homeowner Kim faced when she decided to remodel her 1870 Second Empire home. She was facing a list of challenges four times as long as the one we just described. But, thankfully for Kim, she found someone who understood. Help arrived in the form of her design-build contractor, Charlie Allen. Kim’s home blossomed from a major headache into a real beauty, thanks to the patience, endurance, and inspiration of this dynamic duo—the homeowner and the contractor.

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The story of the restoration is a story of what just about any homeowner will face when they embark upon The Big Challenge known as remodeling. One of Kim’s projects was to remodel the previously remodeled kitchen. In order to do so, two layers of kitchen ceiling, plus several layers of an upstairs bathroom had effectively formed a layer of protective armor that resisted even the most eager renovator’s efforts. It took some major doing, and even required a small roof makeover. But it happened. In the process, they discovered damage from a long-gone fire, and some other unpleasant artifacts from erstwhile renovators. During the ordeal, Kim had to take her showers at the local gym.

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It wasn’t all a trial, thankfully. Once the interior of the home had received its complete new look, the restoration team walked outside to take a look at the exterior. This turned out to be a more than pleasant experience that manifested itself in removing vinyl siding, replacing gutters, reroofing the dwelling, and picking out historically accurate colors. The local Preservation society loved it so much, they gave the house a big award.

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Kim’s situation isn’t entirely different from just about any renovation project. The headaches will come. The problems will manifest themselves. And the project may drag on six times longer than you thought it would. But in the end, you’ll emerge with a stunning dwelling. Don’t worry. You won’t have to shower in the gym the rest of your life.

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