Homes older than 40 years old were subject to much different material safety standards and building codes. We will cover some of the more basic trouble areas such as electrical systems, basements, roofs and how to navigate a home remodel when dealing with an older home.
Toxic and dangerous materials.
Thanks to new standards and knowledge we now know that some of the most common building materials of the past are harmful when turned into dust or accidentally ingested.
One of the most common toxic material is asbestos. Asbestos was used in many homes build from the 1940s through the 1970s. It was regarded as a fire-retardant material used to insulate attics and pipes. It was also found in roofing, floorings and siding materials. While safe if left untouched, during demolition asbestos dust can become airborne and when inhaled will cause lung damage.
Lead paint was also commonly used in older homes. The majority of homes built before 1949 had lead based paint. These paint chips if consumed cause major physical and mental problems in children.
When considering a renovation it os very important to check with your home renovation professional before breaking up walls, floors, or maneuvering pipes.
Older Construction Codes
Building codes are a set of regulations with regard to construction that is intended to ensure safety. Building codes vary from state to state, county, to county, and town to town. A knowledgable contractor is aware of these codes and can identify what area of the home will need to be updated in order for it to pass a building inspection.
Some of the most common areas in which updated building codes now effect are:
Ceiling heights: New standards dictate the the minimum ceiling height be 7’6” with a few exceptions.
Stairways: New construction required stairs have a minimum tread depth and stair height, otherwise known as the rise and run. Railing height, strength and location are also regulated by building codes. A attic or basement conversion may require an updated stair system.
Finished Basements: When planning a finished basement it is very important to discuss with your remodeler the local building codes. They often dictate structural conformities such as beams and studs, ceiling height, stair landings, mechanical systems such as ventilation in cases where a furnace or bier may be present, and electrical. In areas where flooding is prevalent, outlets may need to be elevated.
It is also important to know that not all codes are identical, so having a professional who is aware of the variations from one jurisdiction to another can save you alert of time and money.
Moisture and Ventilation Problems
Older homes are also likely to have mold and mildew present behind closed walls, in crawl spaces, and in attics. If your home is near a body of water, the humid climate may be effecting areas that are not seen by the naked eye. While less dangerous than toxic materials like lead and asbestos, mold and mildew can lead to long term health problems and unless treated correctly during removal and properly ventilated during the remediation process, spores and stale air can pose serious health issues to those with asthma. I seasoned home remodeler will also know how to address the potential issue when planning the remodel. This means allowing good air flow, proper HVAC systems, and filtration if needed.
While these are just a few of the most common issues, the remodeling company you hire will also evaluate the foundation in cases where an addition is being added, the roof for potential load bearing issues, pipes and plumbing as well as electrical systems.
An older or historically significant home is something that should be preserved and honored when doing a re model or creating an addition. The professionals at Remodeling Consultants have their own teams of tradesmen who understand the local codes, the importance of safe and thoughtful construction, and most of all preserving the and adding to the beauty of your home space on time and always on budget. For a complimentary consultation with one of our in-house designers, please call (914) 381-6900 in Westchester County or (203) 321-1250 in Fairfield County today!