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Is It Worth It to Remodel an Old Home in Delaware?

From Colonial Revival style to turn-of-the-century Victorian and everything in between, there are plenty of beautiful old homes in Delaware that deserve a shot at the next century. These houses possess a sense of character and history that you simply can’t replicate with new construction. However, renovating an older home to make it livable in today’s age is a major undertaking, and you want to make sure it’s worth the investment before starting such a project. Depending on the condition of the house and the maintenance and remodeling it’s undergone since being built, you could be in for a major remodel that involves taking the structure down to its studs in order to make it more functional, efficient, and safe. Bromwell Construction’s design-build detail, millwork expertise, and wealth of experience remodeling historic homes uniquely equip us to explore the question of whether your old home in Delaware is worth remodeling.

View of home exterior in Delaware with stone siding

Should I Remodel an Older Home in Delaware?

Before you decide if it is worth it to remodel your 100-year-old home in Delaware, there is plenty to consider: the cost, the scope of work, and if it’s a historic property, any potential restrictions you are likely to face. You also want to find a home remodeler that is experienced with projects involving vintage houses. Here are a few questions to ask in order to help you figure out if it’s worth remodeling your older home

What Do Home Renovations Cost?

In general, the cost of any remodel varies depending on the size of the structure, its current condition, the scope of work, and the materials you choose to include. For high-quality renovations that align with today’s standards, you can expect a significant investment. For example, most of our kitchen renovations start around $80,000, while whole-home renovations or additions often exceed $300,000. Historic bathroom renovations typically start at $50,000 and can push well over $100,000 for more extensive remodels.

When it comes to older homes, the initial purchase price may be lower—especially if you purposely select a fixer-upper. However, the price to complete modern renovations to old homes tends to be steeper than normal renovation costs, especially if you have to replace the foundation, install a new roof, or add a new HVAC system. Additionally, the project may be more complex since older homes tend to be unique in their construction as opposed to the  structures built in recent years. However, if you find an older property for a good price and carefully plan your remodel to include cost-saving measures, the project can be a worthwhile investment.

Wilmington, Delaware kitchen remodel with wine fridge and brass hardware by Bromwell Construction

Is Your Home or Neighborhood Considered ‘Historic’?

Delaware is known for its historic communities, but that doesn’t mean every old house is automatically considered a historic home. In general, properties in Delaware require a few main attributes to be “historic”.

  • 50 years old or older
  • Displays a high degree of physical integrity and maintains historical significance.
  • Relatively unchanged or modernized, especially from the street view.

If you purchase a historic home in Delaware with the intention to renovate the property, you should check with the Historic Preservation Office about any guidelines and restrictions you need to follow. The City of Wilmington Department of Planning also has a preservation planner on staff, as do the planning departments for Sussex, New Castle, and Kent counties.

Many neighborhoods also have homeowners’ associations (HOAs) that pose their own rules and restrictions for the properties within their jurisdiction. Generally, the guidelines apply to features that are part of the original exterior façade, such as the materials used for siding and roofing, various architectural and design elements, and landscaping and fencing. Consult your HOA to make sure the plans for renovating your old home are copacetic with the overall vision for the neighborhood.

Additionally, original architectural features inside and outside the home may have historic value that you want to preserve. Your Delaware home remodeling team can help you identify which architectural details should be salvaged or repaired and which ones should be replaced or lovingly replicated.

Achieving Design Continuity in Historic Renovations

One of the most challenging yet rewarding aspects of renovating an old house is maintaining its historic charm while integrating modern amenities. At Bromwell Construction, we specialize in achieving design continuity through meticulous attention to detail and custom millwork. Our approach ensures that your home retains its vintage character while providing the comfort and efficiency of a modern living space.

Custom Millwork and Cabinetry

Custom millwork is a cornerstone of our historic renovations. By replicating the intricate details found in the original trim, moldings, and cabinetry, we preserve your home's architectural integrity. 

Windows and Energy Efficiency

Upgrading windows is a critical aspect of any historic renovation. We can install new energy-efficient windows that replicate the look of the old single-pane versions, preserving the historical appearance while enhancing energy performance. 

Wilmington, Delaware remodeled interior of dressing room by Bromwell Construction

HVAC Systems and Modern Amenities

Integrating modern HVAC systems into an old house requires careful planning to avoid disrupting historical features. Our team ensures that these systems are installed discreetly, maintaining the visual integrity of the home while providing the latest in climate control technology. 

Exterior Finishes

The exterior of your historic home is just as important as the interior, more so if you are contending with heritage regulations. We use high-quality materials like brick, stone, cedar shake, and slate roofs to match the original construction.

Exterior of Delaware garage addition with stone and wood siding material by Bromwell Construction

Curated Floor Plans and Focal Points

Achieving a harmonious flow in an old house often involves reconfiguring the layout to better suit modern lifestyles. Our design team works closely with you to create curated floor plans that respect the original design while introducing new focal points and functional spaces. This might include opening up small, closed-off rooms to create open-plan living areas or adding bathrooms and bedrooms.

Color Palettes and Design Elements

Selecting the right color palette is crucial for maintaining historical accuracy. We carefully choose colors that complement the original design and materials, ensuring a cohesive look throughout the home. This attention to detail extends to all design elements, from fixtures and hardware to paint and finishes, creating a seamless blend of old and new.

What Renovations Are Necessary for an Older Home?

The scope of work for your remodel depends on the home you purchased or inherited. If you recently acquired the property, you will want to first deal with any issues that make the house dangerous or uninhabitable, such as structural damage, faulty wiring, and hazardous or toxic materials or gases. Older homes also tend to have layouts or floor plans that don’t mirror the lifestyle of modern families, from small, closed-off kitchens to narrow hallways and a lack of first-floor bathrooms.

Remodeling enables you to reconfigure the space to make it more comfortable, convenient, and functional for your family. That may involve creating a more open floor plan, adding a first floor full bathroom, or converting a basement or attic space to make room for current amenities. If you’re removing load-bearing walls, you also will need to reroute existing water lines, gas pipes, ductwork and electrical wiring in the process. Depending on the age of the home, the electrical and HVAC systems, as well as the hot water heater, may need to be replaced altogether.

Other projects often involved when remodeling an older home include:

  • Installing new insulation
  • Replacing windows with energy-efficient models
  • Tearing up carpet and/or preserving wood flooring
Black front door opening to remodeled home in Delaware with modern light pendant hanging from coffered ceiling

Old Home Renovation Experts in Delaware

Renovating an older, potentially historic home in Delaware is a complex process. To make sure you get the most from your investment, it’s important to partner with a qualified home remodeling team that has experience with older properties. The professionals at Bromwell Construction Company are expert historic home remodelers in Wilmington and the surrounding area. We can work with you and your architect to develop a plan for renovating your house so it retains it's vintage charm while making the space more comfortable and functional for your family in the 21st century. Connect with us today. We cannot wait to meet you and become your partner in giving your historic home many more beautiful years in the future.

Greater Delaware Home Remodeling Cost Guide