Maintaining Historic Character While Remodeling Your Charlotte Home | Hopedale Builders

Maintaining Historic Character While Remodeling Your Charlotte Home

Remodeling a historic home in Charlotte, NC, is a delicate balance between preserving its timeless character and infusing modern amenities. At Hopedale Builders, we're known for our expertise in this niche and understand the nuances of working with historic properties, particularly in Charlotte's designated historic neighborhoods like Dilworth, Fourth Ward,  Plaza Midwood, Wesley Heights, and Wilmore.

Preserving Historic Features When Renovating a Charlotte Home

A skilled Charlotte remodeler knows the importance of preserving historic features. This involves carefully removing and accurately replacing architectural elements that are too damaged, ensuring a seamless blend of old and new. In neighborhoods like Dilworth, where we frequently work, this attention to detail is crucial in maintaining the historic integrity of the home.

We expertly match the craftsmanship and materials of the past, ensuring that each renovation respects the home's original story and architectural language. This approach not only preserves the home's historical value but also enhances its aesthetic appeal and longevity.


How to Balance Modern Amenities with Historic Character in a Charlotte Home Remodel

Modernizing a historic house is a complex task that requires innovative problem-solving. It's about integrating modern conveniences like updated HVAC systems and contemporary bathroom features while respecting the home's original design and character. This balance is key to preserving the charm of historic homes in Charlotte, NC.

A skilled remodeler, like Hopedale Builders, will excel in introducing modern functionality without overshadowing the home's historic essence, ensuring that new additions are both practical and sympathetic to the original design. Your remodeler should navigate the challenges of modernizing electrical, plumbing, and heating systems, ensuring these updates are seamlessly integrated without disrupting the home's historic fabric. 


Are There Restrictions on Additions to Historic Homes in Charlotte?

Remodeling historic homes in Charlotte comes with specific guidelines. According to the Charlotte Historic District Design Guidelines, any additions must align with the historical context of the property. These rules ensure that the historic essence of neighborhoods like the Dilworth Historic District is preserved.

In evaluating applications for projects in Charlotte's Local Historic Districts, the Historic District Commission (HDC) follows the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. While the HDC develops specific policies for local properties using these standards as a guide, they also consider the unique context of each property, acknowledging that exceptions to their guidelines may be warranted and must be justified by the property owner.

However, it's best to err on the side of caution and explore every possible solution to check each item off the following Standards for Historic Rehabilitation list:

  • Use the property for historical purposes or minimal change
  • Retain and preserve historic character
  • Recognize property as a record of time
  • Preserve changes with historical significance
  • Preserve distinctive features and craftsmanship
  • Repair, not replace, deteriorated historic features
  • Avoid damaging treatments like sandblasting
  • Protect significant archaeological resources
  • New work must not destroy historic materials
  • New additions should allow future removal without impairment


What Are the Common Mistakes to Avoid When Remodeling a Historic Home in Charlotte?

If you value your limited time and hard-earned income (who doesn't), you'll want to avoid these common mistakes in historic home remodeling: 

1. Not Getting a COA from HDC

Obtaining your Certificate of Approval (COA) from the Historic District Commission (HDC) is required before any construction can begin on a home in a Charlotte Local Historic District. From additions to window replacements, if you attempt to circumvent this intricate process, you will be in violation of the HDC Design Standards and your project will be subject to enforcement procedures. All in all, it's in your very best interest to meet every standard and follow the review and approval process to the letter. You'll be glad you did!

The good news? By adhering to the Charlotte Historic District Design Guidelines, your addition will fit in spectacularly with your home's historic beauty and preserve your neighborhood's vibrant character.  (As an added bonus, your home won't be the subject of discontented whispers around town!)

2. Hiring Inexperienced Contractors

It's crucial to work with remodelers who have a deep understanding of historic preservation. Navigating the historic district guidelines and having an established network of craftspeople who can repair or replicate historic architectural details aren't where you want to roll the dice. With a knowledgeable remodeler and architect, you'll also benefit from their vendor connections. Knowing where to source period-appropriate materials or materials that very closely resemble the original materials is invaluable. An experienced contractor will also be familiar with the restrictions and requirements we've previously discussed. 

3. Not Doing Your Homework About Your Home's Historic Architecture

Another frequent oversight is failing to properly research the home's history, which can lead to design choices that are out of sync with the home's architectural lineage and even keep you from obtaining your COA. Even though your architect should be savvy about these important details, it's a good idea to brush up on that knowledge before your design meeting. By having this information in your back pocket, you can help to keep the design process moving right along without needing to be educated on every historical detail. 

4. Cutting Corners on Quality to Save a Few Bucks

Aside from the possibility of your application for a Certificate of Appropriateness being rejected by the Charlotte Historic District Commission, cutting corners on the quality of craft and materials will compromise the longevity of your historic home. If you're hoping to put budget over quality, restoring a historic home might not be for you.  Additionally, underestimating the time and cost required for a thorough and respectful restoration can lead to rushed decisions and subpar results. 

5. Ignoring Guidelines Set by the Charlotte Historic District Commission

Not consulting with the local historic commission or neighborhood association before beginning a project can result in legal complications and the need to redo work, adding unnecessary expense and delay to the project. Applying for a Certificate of Appropriateness is no small task and must be followed to the letter. 

6. Not Preparing for Challenges

Neglecting to plan for the unique challenges of older structures, such as uneven floors or outdated electrical systems, can complicate the remodeling process. Homeowners should also be wary of over-modernizing, which can strip a historic home of its unique character and charm. It's essential to strike a balance between modern functionality and historical authenticity. 


How to Find Contractors Experienced in Preserving Historic Homes in Charlotte?

When considering a remodel of your historic Charlotte home, it's essential to choose a contractor who respects the property's heritage while skillfully integrating modern comforts. At Hopedale Builders, our expertise in neighborhoods like Dilworth and our commitment to historic preservation makes us an ideal choice for maintaining the character of your historic homes.

Finding the right contractor for your historic home remodel in Charlotte is vital. Brett, the founder of Hopedale Builders, has recently joined the Historic Commission board, a testament to his commitment and expertise in this field. His two-year commitment to the board further underscores Hopedale Builders' position as a leader in historic home restoration and remodeling in Charlotte. Contact us to find out more about how we can help bring your home back to its full glory while updating it for modern times. 


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