How We Remodeled a Historic Home in Wilmington, DE
Project Type: Full historic home restoration; originally built in 1912.
Goal: Turn 3-unit multi-family house into one happy, cohesive single family home.
Timeline: This project would typically take about 6 months, but due to mild unforeseen delays it took just under 9 months from start to finish.
Cost: Final costs approached $250,000.
Photo Courtesy of the Delaware Historical Society
Background and Goals
This beautiful historic home on Franklin Street was built in the early 1900s, and has been in the Pryor family since the 1970s. It was originally a single-family home, but was remodeled into a two-family home in 1936, and then a three-family home in 1972.
But when Erin and Bob inherited this home, they decided it was time to revert the house to an improved version of its past self, to a single-family home once again. They chose this home as their “forever home”, a spacious, cozy place to continue raising their two children and, eventually, retire in.
So that was the plan: turn three separate living spaces in a historic home into one cohesive family home, adding modern structural improvements while preserving the home’s rich history.
Work Done and Materials Used
We worked with the architect to develop a plan to remove most of the existing load bearing walls on the first floor to help open the area up, while also providing some modern amenities like a mudroom, a first floor bedroom with a full bath so in-laws could potentially move in sometime in the future, and a chef-style kitchen with an open floor plan, precisely as our clients always dreamed of.
Because the home was built in the early 20th century, it was a challenge to add modern necessities like central air, proper insulation, and to get everything level and square so the finishes would turn out nice.
We had to use a high velocity air conditioning system along with the current radiant heat and boiler system they already had. The high velocity system allowed for us to run a lot of the duct work needed in small cavities and avoid building bulkheads and taking up precious floor space.
We decided to use 2 inches of closed cell foam to insulate the entire house since it was constructed of stone with furring strips fastened to the mortar joints. We could not frame out all the walls because this would mean taking away from tons of floor space throughout the entire home. So we airsealed the home nicely to provide sufficient r-value to bring the home up to current building codes.
Because this house was built of stone and plaster walls, it was a lot easier to hide slight imperfections when it was originally built. But not anymore. So we went through the entire house to level floors and walls and make sure everything was square for our finishes to come out as expected.
All bathrooms were given new custom tile showers and tub surrounds. A lot of the new shelving and cabinetry (excluding the kitchen) was made from repurposed furniture and barn wood. The kitchen cabinets, on the other hand, were manufactured by Fabuwood and the countertops are premium natural quartz in the rolling fog color. All the hardwood floors in the home were patched and refinished to their original condition.
The new rooftop deck features a newer product on the market called Dectec. It allows us to provide a better warranty to our customers because we are not building the deck using a traditional flat roof system with a deck constructed on top of it, which puts the roof itself at a higher rate of failure from multiple penetrations.
The second floor now has 3 bedrooms with a master suite and another full bath, second floor laundry room, along with the rooftop deck. The third floor has a new drybar, office, and sitting room with a full bathroom as well.