Experts at Building Home Additions on Old Homes

The charm of older homes is undeniable. However, if you need more living space, it can be challenging finding a home addition contractor that is good working on older homes.

Old Home Additions: Experience Required

Home additions for older homes require a remodeling contractor with years of experience and special expertise. Not all remodelers are right for this type of work. This is because of structural and design considerations unique to older buildings. Windom Construction has been working with old homes for decades.

Building Additions on Old Homes is Different

Some of the reasons you need a remodeler that is an expert in home additions for older homes:

Construction Methods and Materials New and Old

Older homes were built using materials and construction methods that are often different than those used today.
Some examples:

  • Lumber and other building materials were not as standardized or the same as they are now.
  • In many older homes, walls are plaster on lath instead of drywall on studs.
  • In the past, building codes were different, and going back longer didn’t exist.
  • In the past, there was less standardization of construction techniques. Each home was different from another based on the builder’s methods
  • Many elements of older homes were custom made. Often using tools that are no longer used or easily available today. You cannot easily order a matching handrail or crown molding by ordering it from the lumber yard.
  • Older homes were generally built to last longer than today’s newer homes.
  • Be it a home build in the 50’s or 20’s or even the 1800’s; homes were built to fit into another era’s design and living sensibilities.

You need the remodeling contractor building your addition to know how older homes were built and the materials they used. You need a contractor that knows how to use older materials or building practices as well as adapt modern materials and construction practices required by code today to match the style and grace of your older home.

Working with Today’s Building Codes and Regulations

Today, when designing and building a home addition, architects, remodelers, and builders must adhere to federal, state, and local building codes. While most of your older home’s construction may be grandfathered in, based on the building codes at the time it was built, your home addition needs to adhere to today’s codes.

And, sometimes a new home addition requires changes to your existing home to add the addition. For example, you may need to upgrade your existing electrical wiring in parts of your home that are not the addition, circuits and circuit breaker or fuse panel may require updating to construct your home addition and meet code. You may also need to add CO2 and smoke detectors to meet safety code requirements.

So, in addition to the addition’s new wiring, you may need to upgrade wiring and circuit breakers that run through and service other areas of your existing home as well. If your builder does not know older homes, they may not include those foreseeable costs into their proposal. Part way through you may get many surprise cost increases because your addition builder was not an expert in older home remodeling.

Building codes are rarely set up to preserve a home’s architectural design and charm unless the home is in a historic district. Building codes focus primarily on safety and health issues. This means that your addition builder may have to develop a good solution for maintaining your home’s architectural integrity.

Connecting Part A to Part B

Connecting a new home addition to your old home usually involves some unique structural considerations such as:

  • Your home may not have plans on file. Even if they do, the plans may not show modifications made later if building permits were not taken out.
  • Your old home was not likely built in a way a typical remodeler, who is not an expert in older home additions, will know. So, they may make incorrect assumptions when estimating their proposal. Then, they may find when they start tearing out walls to connect the new addition; there aren’t the structural members of your home they expected to connect to.

Again, you are better served working with an expert in older home remodeling and home additions. One who can better expect and knows how to figure out what issues will likely need to be factored into the project and the project’s cost before they start so there are fewer unpleasant surprises and unexpected costs.

Understanding Zoning for Older Home Additions

Zoning specifies land use and what can be built on a lot. It includes setbacks from property lines, building heights, and more.  Therefore, your new home addition must adhere to these rules. Depending on your zoning, if you plan your addition one way, you may have to adjust other parts of your home to meet today’s codes. Parts of your home you would not need change if your builder was more knowledgeable about building additions to existing old homes and planned your addition differently.


Homeowner and Community Associations and Historical Preservation Commissions.

Homes in areas with home owner or community associations and homes that are designated historical, generally cannot be remodeled without following certain standards and getting pre-approval. While many remodelers can help you meet homeowner association requirements, it often takes special ability to work with community or historical requirements. Understanding regulations helps in planning your project.


So, Selecting the Right Contractor is Critical

For any remodeling project, regardless of our home’s age it is important for you to select the right contractor for the project and for you.

When remodeling or building an addition on an older home, you also must make sure the contractor is an expert working with older homes and has a track record of successfully completing projects on older homes and having their clients pleased with the results and their experiences.

Windom Construction has proven we have the knowledge, skill, expertise, tools and all that is needed to remodel and build additions onto older homes.

We also assure our clients are happy with everything, including selecting us, because we retain an independent, third party, the leading homeowner satisfaction firm for the remodeling industry, to survey s our clients after we finish projects. And the ratings and reviews speak for themselves. Click to see them. Then contact us about your project.