Restrictions and Opportunities for Restoring a Historical Home 

December 4, 2019

Historic homes are known for having unmatched architecture and that one-of-a-kind aesthetic that so many homeowners search for. If you are drawn by the charm and beauty of owning your own piece of history, then you will want to make sure you know exactly what restrictions as well as opportunities await you.

Buying and/or restoring a historic home is no small feat. Special care needs to be taken at each step of the process, from the purchase of the property to the renovation/restoration design process. Before you sign on the dotted line, realize that this huge commitment may have legal and/or financial hurdles that will need to be crossed. 

Why Buy A Historical Home? 


For many homeowners, buying new construction is their “thing.” They like the idea that they are the first to live in a space and that they have the guarantee that major systems are updated and brand new. 

Then there are those who do not find that style of home appealing at all. Some would rather enjoy the design and unique historical feel of an older home. Historic homes are completely alluring to those who want to own a little piece of history. Knowing that families, or even famous figures, have lived in a home can add to the desire to own an old structure rather than new. 

Then there are the home buyers who didn’t really set out to buy a historic home, but fall in love with the character, charm, and beauty that comes with an older home. Contributing to the preservation of a structure rooted in U.S. history can also be a part of the reasoning behind searching out real estate listings with a historic home in mind. 

There may even be a potential financial advantage of owning and restoring a home that is registered as “historic.” According to Realtor online, “Many states and local governments offer tax incentives in the form of tax credits or lower interest loans for preserving and restoring historic structures. You have to qualify for these tax abatements, and while the amounts won’t make you rich, they’re still benefits you wouldn’t otherwise receive when buying a new house.”

Caveats About Historic Homes 

While historic homes certainly have many aesthetic design benefits, there are drawbacks to buying and restoring one of these beauties that should be considered before purchase. All too often, historic homes come with restrictions on: additions, restorations, refurbishments, and even paint colors! In order not to be blindsided by any restrictions from your municipality, it is important to do a considerable amount of research first so that you will know exactly what is expected of you as a homeowner. 

Along with taking into account the municipal restrictions, you will also want to realize that historic homes tend to have costly repairs and need major upgrades. Dangers you may need to deal with include: lead paint, asbestos, heated oil tanks, or even mold. You may also need to retrofit or repair the historical details of the home such as architectural elements, wallpaper, tile, or outbuildings. In general, the upkeep of a vintage home tends to be more expensive than a newer home. 

Advice For Historic Home Buyers 

If you are attracted to the look and charm of an older home or one that is on a historical registry, you may want to consider these steps to safeguard your purchase. 

  • Have a formal home inspection conducted by a qualified home inspector who specializes in older homes and/or by a structural engineer.
  • Get price estimates from contractors regarding all necessary repair work.
  • Make sure the house meets safety and health standards, including passing asbestos and lead paint tests.
  • Meet with an architect who has experience dealing with older homes and understands the restrictions and requirements in your region. 

If you are toying with the idea of investing in a historical home in your area, talk to our designers and architects who can help guide you in this project.  If you have questions about historic homes contact our office at 617-744-6399 or visit our website at Slocum Hall Design