5 Tips for Restoring Historic Homes in Newport, RI

March 25, 2014 by Valerie Griffiths
Credit: Google Images

Credit: Google Images

Newport is known for its colonial charm and historic homes. They’ve stood the test of time—but not without some help! Many homes have gotten facelifts in the 20th century. If you’re lucky enough to own one yourself or are thinking of buying one, it will require updating, both for safety reasons and to preserve its character. Griff Electric has experience restoring historic homes in Newport, RI and want to share with you our top 5 tips:

1. Updated Electrical Systems are essential to home safety, so they’re a great place to start. Old homes often contain knob and tube wiring—the oldest form. Old wiring can deteriorate, and faulty wiring is the leading cause of residential fires. Have your electrical system inspected by a licensed electrician who’s accustomed to working in older homes! Hire someone with restoration experience to bring your wiring up-to-date. They will know the historical district guidelines that need to be followed.

2. Hold onto those original wood windows! They have character, but they’re also high quality—they just don’t make ’em the same anymore. Keeping original windows is a great way to preserve visual appeal. Repair them individually instead of swapping them all out for something new and plastic.

3. Historic plaster should be salvaged whenever possible. You may be thinking, “Plaster, really?” Old homes often contain lime plaster that’s stronger, thicker and more durable than newer drywall. Traditional plastering was quite a skill, and it enhances historical authenticity and value. Fill any cracks and patch holes rather than starting from scratch.

4. Don’t skip the details! Take inventory of your hardware. Antique hardware such as brass doorknobs, locks, wall sconces, latches, and even cabinet hinges may be unique to your home. Take note of them. Have them repaired or refurbished by a specialty shop when possible. If they must be replaced, you can get the best match by bringing the original with you when you shop.

5. Check out the Newport Restoration Foundation for some excellent resources. Even if your home isn’t one of the 83 NRF homes in Newport, they offer advice on energy efficiency for owners of old homes, historic home maintenance and more (http://www.newportrestoration.org/resources/)

Old homes make Newport special but they require T.L.C.! Work with professionals who are familiar with the area as well as the proper restoration method of these unique properties.