Starting Your Historic Home Renovation: What To Do & Not Do

There are many historic homes in Westfield, NJ & surrounding townships. Many homes with character, history, and value. If you’ve recently decided to restore a home to its glory days, you will likely have many questions.

After all, undertaking a historic restoration is different from remodeling the average home.

There are different factors to consider, such as registering your home as a historic home (if you haven’t already), filling out the necessary forms, checking with your local zoning board, hiring the right contractor for the job, and more. Getting everything in order can sometimes be overwhelming before the work begins.

We understand the headaches involved at the start of this process. We’ve also had many homeowners ask us questions about beginning the process and what materials to purchase. After over 30 years of specializing in historic home remodeling projects, we’ve compiled the most common questions (and answers to them) and do’s and don’ts.

historic restoration westfield nj

FAQs About Buying a Home That's a Designated Historical Property

Question: What are the pros and cons of registering a house as a historic property?

If you’ve recently purchased an old home in Westfield, NJ, or another surrounding township, you may be eager to research its past and register it as a historic property. You’ll likely come across photos of the house in archives and become inspired to repair the home to its original condition. While registering the house may have cons, there are some things to know before moving forward.

Answer: If you have a very old house that hasn’t been significantly altered or was associated with important historical events, you’ll be able to register it as a historic property. You may visit the Federal National Register, a state historic commission register, or a municipal historic register. Registering a historical property qualifies it for grant programs, loans, and tax incentives.

Historical Home Preservation with Fine Craftsmanship

FAQs About Buying a Home That's a Designated Historical Property

Question: Can I remodel or add to a historic home?

Old homes are great. They transport you back to simpler times — and simpler spaces. The size of rooms is usually smaller in older homes. Because of this, you may consider adding to the historic home through a home addition.

Answer: Before any work can be done to a home in a historic district, you’ll need to submit an application and have your property evaluated. There are several places you can turn to begin the process. Check online for renovation and remodeling regulations and historic home restoration grants. Visit your town clerk’s office or website for local zoning bylaws on design standards. Working with a historic home restoration contractor can help make the process less overwhelming.


Restoring Historic Homes

historic restoration - tour of notable homes


  • Call your local or state historic preservation office before making any changes to determine if your home is in a historic district and whether you must follow any guidelines.

  • Live with the house for a while before getting involved in big projects. When you learn about the house first, there’s a better chance you’ll be happy with your work.

  • Try to maintain the original character of the house. After all, that’s what restoration is all about.

  • Find a contractor with experience working on historic home restorations by getting recommendations from other historic-home owners, your city’s historic preservation board, the homebuilders association, or the contractor licensing board.

  • Before hiring a contractor, check out his past work and make sure he is licensed and insured.

  • Add 20% to 25% on top of a contractor’s bid for unexpected problems during the renovation and special orders.


  • Please don’t pay any old house restoration company for a job before it’s done. Structure the payments, so a sizeable amount is due upon satisfactory completion.


  • Don’t assume having features custom-made is more expensive than buying them straight off the shelf at Lowe’s or Home Depot.


  • Don’t assume you’ll have to replace all those drafty old windows with expensive new ones that don’t fit the house’s character. A little caulk can go a long way — and it’s easy to use.


  • Don’t rush to rip off plaster walls if you have to replace a house’s wiring. Electricians can snake wires through the walls instead. By doing this, you’ll avoid a huge mess and help maintain the house’s original character.

If you’re searching for the right contractor to help with restoration services, turn to SEI Construction, Inc. We can help you preserve history by restoring distinguished structures to their original grandeur and bringing them up to modern standards with careful restoration processes and procedures.


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