Rehabilitate or Restore? Weighing the Options for Your Historic Home

Rehabilitate or Restore? Weighing the Options for Your Historic Home

To assume ownership of a historic home is to assume ownership of a legacy—you’re given an exciting opportunity to rekindle the past to enrich the future, and with that opportunity comes many decisions. You’ve chosen your historic home because you love its unique features, but how far do you go in replicating the original design versus reimagining the space? Today, we’ll share our expertise as a historic home remodeling company in Atlanta and assess the pros and cons of both rehabilitation and restoration. 

What’s the Difference Between Rehabilitation and Restoration?

Because renovation projects are not always pure restoration or rehabilitation, there can be confusion surrounding the two terms. Simply put, rehabilitation means preserving certain historic features with a lot of character but taking liberties in modernizing the space, which often means rezoning rooms and adding contemporary features. Restoration, on the other hand, means bringing as many features of the home as possible back to the original design.

Pros and Cons of Rehabilitation

The pros and cons of rehabilitation center around three areas: creativity, contractors, and cost. The exciting element of a rehabilitation project is that it allows for immense creativity. If you’re an idea person, you’re going to love the massive potential of reimagining a historic home with an eye toward preserving its defining characteristics while infusing it with modern function and newer design elements.

This major pro, however, can also turn into a con since it’s rare to find a contractor able to guide you through recognizing and preserving priceless historic features while seamlessly integrating modern elements. To successfully rehabilitate a historic home, you need a historic home remodeling company that is intimately familiar with and respectful of the unique design elements of each architectural era so that you can successfully broaden the home’s original vision. Of course, when you do find this contractor, the potential is incredible.

It’s important to note too that the cost of a rehabilitation may be more than the cost of a restoration since rezoning a home entails expensive and elaborate work like relocating electrical lines, plumbing, walls, floors, etc.

NEW! Download the 2021 Atlanta Remodeling Cost Report [PDF]

Pros and Cons of Restoration

In a home restoration project, the creative vision is already laid out for you, which suits some personalities very well. Because pure restoration is unique, pursuing this direction for your historic home makes your home stand out.

Restoration projects make the most sense when there are several unique period features already in your home—be they butlers pantries, custom woodwork, or antique tiling—that only need a bit of curating to display like a rare piece of art in a museum. If you love the home’s original style, restoration is right for you, and it’s an honoring way to respectfully preserve history.

Just as with rehabilitation, however, you’ll want to be absolutely certain that your contractor has experience working in historic homes and will know how to restore each feature with great care and competence.

A fun challenge of restoring a historic home is finding original materials and home features that fit the period of your home when the original is too damaged to salvage, so restorations are perfect for home owners who love treasure hunting for period pieces. Regardless of which route you take, remember to take it with competent guides who have a wide breadth of experience rehabilitating and restoring historic homes in your neighborhood.

2024 Atlanta Remodeling Cost Guide (variant A)