This time of year we begin to think of the upcoming winter and the typical list of projects that should be done before the first frost. Fall is the ideal time to make the home improvements that can carry you through the winter and into next year with the confidence to know that everything is correct. A home is basically a living thing that is cared for by those that live within its walls. Every so often a home needs to have some care, home care is often a complex mixture of renovation, repairs and upgrades. Owning a home can sometimes feel like a full time job, particularly if the home is older. The variables that come into play with older homes can be very serious if you do not know what you are dealing with. Let’s say that you have a mid or early 20th century home that is pretty much original, save for a couple layers of paint. You have been kicking around the idea of renovating the home but are unsure about the added cost of material disposal due to the fact that they may contain lead, asbestos and many other dangerous substances.
Restoration or Renovation?
As you may know from watching the excessive number of home renovation shows on TV, renovations are easy and completed within a set period of time, usually with no surprises or setbacks, right? Wrong. Regardless of whether you are doing a renovation or restoration on your home, you are bound to have some surprises. Unless you are doing a large scale renovation where you gut the interior of the home and start from scratch, many original materials will remain and that means the potential for exposure will increase the deeper you get. First, however, you need to consider to what degree your home improvement project is going to be. A typical renovation is going to entail removing the flooring, adding paint to the walls, installing new cabinets and appliances. A restoration is going to be a bit more involved as this includes a much more comprehensive form of renovation. Many times elements of the home are replaced with new materials and completely put back to the original configuration. Of course a period correct restoration will always have elements of modernity and the materials will be upgraded. Renovation is generally reserved for the outside of the home while restoration is typical of what homeowners do with the outside of the house.
To be fair, a kitchen is almost always remodeled, and not generally restored to its original configuration. In every kitchen renovation the main goal is to make it better and more functional. Not many owners of an early 70s home would want the same appliances that came with the house. The most common upgrades for the kitchen are the appliances, flooring, cabinets and countertops. Of course adding design elements is always a good idea when renovating the kitchen. Features like creative storage, skylights and even a built-in breakfast nook can add value to your kitchen. Appliances are the holy grail of kitchen renovation. These days, we can be connected with almost every appliance in our kitchen through our smart phones, whether that is a good idea or not, we will let you decide. Flooring is another area that can truly make your kitchen stand out, unless you like the yellow linoleum that is currently on the floor. The old, hardwood flooring that cracked and warped with every little temperature change is long gone. Now there are engineered wood flooring options that are ideal for a kitchen environment.
Now the bathroom, depending on the age of your home may be something that you may want to keep as original. If you have an old Victorian with a pedestal sink and a clawfoot bathtub, keeping your bathroom the same might be desirable. Of course, bathrooms that vintage never really survived the 1950s and the modern revolution. Bathrooms are just as exciting to remodel as kitchens and although they do not hold the same characteristic of bringing everyone together, it is a distinctly personal room. You can find out all sorts of information about someone, just by using their bathroom, and no we are not talking snooping through the medicine cabinet. As simple as a bathroom appears, technology has still invaded the space, to the point that there is even a bluetooth controlled toilet. That’s right, next time you eat too many Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, you can have a seat surrounded by ambient lighting and a dedicated playlist emanating from the speakers. It will set you back more than a few bucks but isn’t it worth the comfort of a fully remote controlled toilet, it is clearly the direction we are headed.
Generally the outside of a home is the portion that announces the vintage of construction. Unless there has been a bunch of major changes the home can be placed in a certain era. For example a Tudor home has unique embellishments that make it recognizable from the outside. This is what many homeowners attempt to preserve and it is probably one of the reasons why they bought the home in the first place. With the abundance of new materials that closely resemble the originals, it is very easy to get the same feel. Even if a home is old it does not need to look like it, if your home is aging and has seen better days many times the outside could use some sprucing up. An old home that has a fresh coat of paint, attractive landscaping and a whimsically painted door is sure to exude curb appeal.
At this stage of the game it is difficult to find a home that has the original paint, drywall, flooring and pipes from the days when asbestos and lead were common building materials. Prior to the 1980s asbestos was utilized in many aspects of construction; the most common being flooring and ceiling materials. The old “popcorn” ceilings from the 1970s may be impregnated with asbestos. Early linoleum flooring generally contains asbestos and toxic adhesives. Although the chances are slim that any has survived to 2017, many types of early 20th century roofing was asbestos based. The paint that covered both the interior and exterior of many homes was made of lead. Lead paint was so common because lead created a paint that not only performed well, but was extremely durable. These are all reasons why it is imperative to contact the testing specialists at NOW Environmental Services. If you are unsure of what you will be exposing you and your family to when performing a restoration or renovation we offer both onsite and home testing kits for lead, asbestos and indoor air quality. Worried the testing will take too long? No problem—we can expedite the procedure and have an answer for you within 24 hours. We can then help with the next steps of your project in order to make sure that the construction is not disturbing asbestos that weren’t apparent before the work started. If you have any questions concerning the presence of lead or asbestos in your home please do not hesitate to give us a call or send us an email, your health is important to us!