By Andy Meredith
Whether you’re restoring an old home for yourself and your family or to sell, you’re going to have to take weather into consideration. No one wants to lose their shirt on heating and cooling bills, and you definitely don’t want to put a lot of time, energy, and love into a restoration only to find out that you have a leaky roof or a basement that floods every time it rains.
At the same time, poor attempts at weatherproofing can actually ruin a perfectly good old home. When we bought Love House, Candis found out that the first owner had gotten siding installed to make it “easier to maintain,” but it actually had the opposite effect. Vines grew in between the siding and the exterior walls, and then they started growing into the house, too. That’s a pretty extreme example of how weatherproofing can ruin a house, but it’s not the only way that old homes get ruined when people try to “improve” them. So, before you get started, take a minute and read through my best tips for improving your old home’s efficiency without ruining it.
Invest in a New Roof
Roofs are expensive, but they really are worth it. If you’re restoring an old home, you can bet that it hasn’t been reroofed in at least a few decades (if not more), so don’t even think about just patching it. Instead, spend the money and have a quality roofing service come out and put a whole new roof on for you.
I like working with roofers who have experience with restorations, but that’s not a requirement. You just want to make sure that you find a roofer with a good reputation who can work with your specified materials.
Drain Storm Water Away From the House
If you’re worried about flooding, your biggest problem is going to be drainage. Your home probably has gutters and downspouts, but where does the water go from there? You might want to do some landscaping to make sure that water flows away from your house (but not toward neighbors’ houses). That way you won’t be looking at big trouble if you have a heavy rainfall.
Add an Attic Stair Cover
Not all weatherproofing is there to avert disasters like flooding. Some of it’s there just to make sure that your house is more efficient and easier to heat and cool. Along those lines, if you have pull-down stairs or a ladder leading to the attic, you can add a little bit of insulation to the rest of the house with an attic stair cover. It’s basically a lid that goes over the opening above your attic stairs and helps block airflow down from the attic. It’ll help keep the house cooler in the winter and warmer in the summer.
Restore or Renovate Your Windows
Finally, one of the most common tips you’ll see for weatherproofing houses is to caulk the windows to reduce air flow into and out of the house. I’m all for sealing the cracks around windows, but if you don’t do it right, caulk can look puffy and unprofessional and can really ruin the look of the house.
Instead of putting a patch on the problem, I’m a much bigger fan of replacing the windows and restoring the window frames. Then you can get a better fit, seal the new windows (which will be better insulated), and you’ll have a much more energy efficient house that doesn’t have eyesores at all the windows.
There you go—four ways to weatherproof an old house without ruining it for yourself or your buyers.