Owning a historic home can be a great experience. After all, you have a unique home with architectural elements not found on new homes. But it is also a significant responsibility.

It can be a challenge when homeowners want to update the home to bring it more in line with the modern world as historic home alterations are usually subject to approval.

These tips can help you keep your historic home modern while maintaining its character.

Updated kitchen with a Broan range hood
Most historic home regulations focus on exterior features. So it’s probably safe to update kitchen fixtures like the range hood.

1. Know Your Restrictions

Homes designated as historic often have restrictions placed on what can be done to them. For example, you won’t be allowed to drastically change the look of exterior features such as the shutters, windows or roof.  

However, you are allowed and encouraged to make repairs and exact replacements. So, go ahead and buy that range hood and smart refrigerator — these are interior features and what you do inside the home is generally okay. The outside’s the part you need to be concerned about.

Regulations vary widely by location so check with local agencies to determine what can and cannot be done on the property.

Finger pressing a key on a wireless home security system's keypad
Install a wireless security system and you won’t have to worry about violating historic home regulations. (DepositPhotos)

2. Keep It Safe

Historic homes need to be upgraded with safety in mind. For example, your best bet is to purchase a wireless alarm system with window and door sensors that are installed with adhesive; that way, you won’t have to disrupt the home with new wiring.

Another concern is asbestos — it was a popular building material before 1980, with construction uses stemming back to 1900, and there’s a good chance your historic home has some in it. If asbestos is exposed, contact an asbestos remediation expert right away.   

Then there’s lead paint, another product once used in home building before it was discovered to be toxic. Get a lead paint test kit to make sure there are no issues in any room.

Those are just a few common problems to consider without even mentioning major structural issues that need addressing. Your home needs a thorough inspection from a home inspector who specializes in historic homes.

Editorial Contributors
Danny Lipford

Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio, TodaysHomeowner.com, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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