Choosing the Right Firm for Your St. Louis Historic Home Remodel

Feb 27, 2021 | Remodel

One of the St. Louis area’s often overlooked attributes is its variety of housing and neighborhoods. Brand new and recently built residential housing is plentiful throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area.

Rural, urban, single-family and multi-family housing is readily available in a wide range of distinct neighborhoods and towns.

The St. Louis area also offers an impressive area of historic neighborhoods, each with its own history and architectural style.

Soulard, Lafayette Square, Benton Park, Holly Hills, Dogtown, The Grove and The Hill each give their respective areas St. Louis City a unique flavor, distinct architecture and a true sense of history: Many of these neighborhoods having been around for more than 250 years!

Beyond the city limits, Webster Groves, and historic areas of Wildwood include homes built in the 1700s. Kimmswick, which is southwest of St. Louis, and Cottleville in St. Charles County are just a few of the communities boasting historic homes.

While historic homes can be beautiful and distinctive, making them comfortable and livable with modern day amenities can be a challenge.

Many of these homes were built before electricity was understood, let alone harnessed as a source of power.

Drywall was non-existent and plaster walls were the norm. Even “commonplace” materials such as wooden studs can be compromised over decades and centuries.

These challenges frequently lead owners of historic homes to seek remodels or renovations. And while that may be relatively easy for a home built in the 1960s, it poses daunting challenges for the owner of a home built in the 1760s – particularly if they want to maintain the aesthetics of the historic design.

Recognizing these difficulties, many homeowners turn these renovation projects over to professional designers and builders.

However, there are a few things you should remember when selecting a construction or architecture firm for your historic home remodel.

Design-Build Firms Are a Smart Way To Go For Historic Home Renovations

A Design-Build firm combines architectural design professionals and services with construction teams, giving the homeowner one point of contact for the entirety of the project.

It also creates a coordinated effort – design, materials sourcing and construction – for the entire renovation.

This is especially important for remodels of historic homes, as these structures post unique challenges in their original construction and in executing an update that respects the home’s history while adding modern amenities.

Historic Home Renovation Experience Matters

Experience not just in remodeling, but in remodeling homes that are 100 years-old or more is critical.

These homes invariably have “hidden surprises” in their design or materials that a firm with experience in remodeling historic homes has seen before.

Firms who have little or no experience in working with century-old construction are often sailing into uncharted waters. The end result is often substantial cost overruns, extended project timelines and sadly, a finished product that may not meet the homeowner’s expectations.

See our previous experience remodeling a historic home in an award-winning project.

Home Before Addition: 2452 sq. ft.
After Addition: 4173 sq. ft.

Knowledge Of The Neighborhood Is A Must

New owners of historic homes want to renovate them into modern homes.

These projects require everyone involved – the homeowner, the designer, the construction team and the personnel acquiring materials – to have a full understanding of the historic period in which the home and its neighborhood were built.

The idea with a historic home renovation is to finish the project with a house that respects the history of the building and its neighbors while increasing the utility, comfort and livability of the home.

It’s a delicate balancing act that often requires weighing competing interests. Understanding the complete historic context of the home and its neighborhood is crucial to the success of the project.

Agape has experience working in the many historic St. Louis neighborhoods. While we are based here in Kirkwood, we have projects completed in Frontenac, Ladue, Soulard, and the Central West End to name a few.

Creativity Is Key For Historic Home Remodels

Even with an exciting, workable and compelling vision established for the renovation, surprises will arise.

No one alive actually knows what’s under those four layers of flooring in the living room – until you pull them up. And what about that wiring? Or the plumbing? These homes were built before modern building codes were enacted, so almost anything is possible.

A firm that can bring creative problem-solving skills to these challenges will help you stick to the timeline, stay on budget and just as important, bring the homeowner’s vision to life.

Agape’s design team does not lack in creativity. You would not BELIEVE the transformation of the historic Kirkwood Train Depot when the Agape team was tasked to remodel it.

Historic Home RemodelSt. Louis Historic Home Remodel

Communication Is Key

Communication matters on all remodeling project, but it is even more critical for renovations of historic homes.

Unusual problems are common in these projects, and the challenges they present require coordination from everyone involved.

It’s important that the designer, construction team and homeowner are all committed to effective, frequent communication.

Agape Construction Is A Design-Build Firm with Extensive Experience Remodeling Historic Homes

Agape Construction understands historic home construction and remodeling. Our licensed architects and engineers, along with our experienced construction professionals know how to work with homeowners to make YOUR historic home YOUR dream home.

Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your historic home remodel and see how Agape can make your vision a reality.

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