Remodeling a Historic Home

By February 4, 2020 February 27th, 2020 Niche Development

Welcome to 1401 Princeton

We are excited to introduce to you a new arm of Niche Homes, Niche Development. When we first saw this property, the immediate words that came to mind were, “quintessential Yalecrest.” Dave and I thought we’d embark on this new journey and try restoring this beautiful historic home, built in 1929. It’s had three previous owners. We are the fourth. 

Beautiful double brick Tudor, this home was built in the Depression era. And with all the accoutrements of a wealthy home for its time period. The quality and craftsmanship in this home is unparalleled. It’s not just the brick work, it’s the leaded paned windows on the front facade, throughout the main floor and the upper floors. It’s got a lot of charm and a lot of potential. But it needs a lot of work. Today we are going to share some of the challenges and possibilities of remodeling a historic home.

Preserving Leaded Windows

As we go about restoring a historic home, we want to keep as many of the original components as possible. We’ve been working hand in hand with the historic district of Salt Lake City, particularly to keep our leaded windows. And we are partnering with a local company, Beehive Glass.

It’s a labor of love to pull out these windows. You have to pull them out by hand and reset them into the window panes. It’s a lot of work and a lot of labor. It’s old glass and glass moves. But this is also water-cooled glass, which makes the process a little more tenuous.

Updating Electrical and HVAC

The home really hasn’t been touched since 1973, and we need to update some essential elements such as central air and heat. All of the electrical is knob and tube. And we can show you where there’s score marks in the wood. We believe this house probably got close to being caught on fire three different times. All the systems need an upgrade. The mechanical servicing needs an upgrade. And the boiler is an original coal fire burner. It’s a fun piece, but it ultimately needs to come out.

Adapting to a Modern Layout

These old tudor homes are boxy. The typical layout was a center hallway, center stairway and as many rooms as possible branching off. But today’s home needs to have an open layout. It needs to have flow, lighter stairs, and better access to the different levels. And so we’re going to have to do a fundamental rethink on the layout throughout this home in order to unlock all that hidden potential. It may affect if our home does or does not get historic certification, but updating the stairs is a major part of updating a home to meet a modern lifestyle.

Preserving Historic Details

In the front room is a beautiful, eye-catching original fireplace with stunning tilework. The insert will be removed, as well as the black metalwork and mantle which are not original. It’s difficult to find craftsmanship like this. And it’s also difficult to find it in this good of shape.

We also intend to clean up, replace some components of the original sconces throughout the home and dip them in bronze.

Improving Comfort and Safety

One of the things we’re doing to make this home more conducive to a modern lifestyle is adding insulation and sealing it up. There are closed foam spraying products that add a really strong R-value of 7 per inch or so. We plan to spray this into the walls and attic for insulation. And also because all the interior walls are going to be furred and seismically updated, we’ll have an opportunity to spray and slate those as well. And that should add substantially to the home’s insulation capability, reduce utilities and improve overall comfort.

Demolition

Dave intentionally wanted to do the demolition at 1401 Laird himself. You get to know the bones of the house during the demo. You get a look at the walls and how the brickwork and the ceiling joists run together. You see the roof lines and inspect to see if any water came into the home. You don’t really know what you’re getting into until you really see the bones of the home; you get to know the space really well. And different ideas come to you of how to unlock the real value in the layout as you spend time working the room and thinking through the space.

Budget

A big obstacle in restoring a historic home is the budget. You have to buy it at the right price. This home originally was priced really high because of its location. It does have a lot of value, but most people are not able or willing to put it in the sweat equity and open things up to maximize its potential.

Thank you for joining us today as we’ve shared some of the challenges and possibilities of remodeling a historic home. Visit our construction page for more videos and photos. And check back again soon for more updates on our Niche Development project at 1401 Princeton!

Niche Homes is a full-service real estate agency specializing in the Yalecrest neighborhood and surrounding Salt Lake enclaves. Contact us if you are interested in buying or selling a home.