East Oregonian : E.O. (Pendleton, OR) 1888-current, April 12, 2017, Page Page 8C, Image 26

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    Page 8C
Spring Home & Garden
East Oregonian
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Dwain Livengood via AP
This undated photo shows a 1903 farm house in Lancaster, Penn. Dwain Livengood knows he can save money on his home renovation project by doing the work himself,
but the owner of this 100-year-old farmhouse also realizes that DIY projects in historic homes require more planning and information than those in newer homes and that
mistakes can be costly.
DIY work on older houses takes extra know-how, flexibility
By MELISSA KOSSLER
DUTTON
Associated Press
Dwain Livengood can
save money on his home
renovation project by doing
the work himself. But he
also knows that do-it-your-
self projects in historic
homes like his 100-year-old
farmhouse require extra
planning and research, and
that mistakes can be costly.
“Self-awareness is pretty
huge,” says Livengood,
who grew up in the house
in Lancaster, Pennsylvania,
and is the third generation of
his family to own it. “Saving
money isn’t worth it if in the
end it looks like an amateur
did it.”
He is planning the first
major renovations to the
property, including a new
kitchen, hardwood floor
restorations and window
repair.
DIY “fails” in historic
homes can do more than
look bad; they can seriously
damage a home’s structure
and character, says Jody
Robinson, historic preser-
vation officer for the city of
Bellevue, Kentucky. DIY
has a place in historic home
renovation, she says, but it
needs to be well-researched.
Stephen B. Morton/Savannah Technical College via AP
This Sept. 20, 2016 photo provided by Savannah Tech-
nical College shows Historic Preservation students
taking part in Timber framing and Masonry in the lab,
in Savannah, Ga.
If your home or neighbor-
hood has a historical desig-
nation, there probably are
restrictions on what you can
do, particularly to exteriors.
Consult with local authorities
before initiating projects or
hiring contractors.
“The difference with a
historic home is the materials
used and how they were
constructed,” Robinson says.
Slate roofs, wood gutters,
weight-and-pulley windows,
plaster walls and old building
materials require special
attention,
experts
say.
Luckily, there are numerous
places where owners of
historic homes can find infor-
mation about which projects
they should and shouldn’t
attempt on their own.
Cities,
preservations
societies, restoration enthu-
siasts, and even businesses
that specialize in historic
renovation offer workshops
and classes. Window repair,
plastering, basic fireplace
fixes and tiling are among the
most popular subjects.
Understanding
your
home’s construction and
appreciating historic reno-
vation methods are the first
step, says Benjamin Curran,
department head for historic
preservation at Savannah
Technical
College
in
Georgia. Through its Historic
Homeowners Academy, the
school teaches classes geared
to the do-it-yourselfer.
When homeowners try to
apply modern solutions to
old homes “a remodel can
easily turn into a re-muddle,”
Curran says. For example,
using the wrong mortar can
damage old bricks.
He recommends taking
a class and consulting with
a professional or historical
preservationist.
“From there, it’s a ques-
tion of what is achievable.
What is the breadth of your
skill set? Where might you
stretch yourself and learn
more?” Curran says.
Jim Wigton, president of
the Monrovia (California)
Historic Preservation Group,
says it was formed nearly 40
years ago by residents who
were restoring homes and
wanted to share knowledge.
“At the beginning of the
organization, we invited
craftspeople in to share how
to do things,” says Wigton,
adding that group also offers
a home tour and works on
city-wide preservation proj-
ects.
Livengood, who has
experience restoring antique
carriage and tractors, plans
on repairing the 40 wood
windows in his foursquare
house this spring. Using
tips from a professional
restoration company, he will
replace the rope that holds
the cast-iron weights that
allow the windows to move
up and down, and will paint
the windows’ interiors. He’s
hired a professional to tackle
the exterior. He anticipates
the work he does will reduce
the repair costs by $200 per
window.
Windows are a good DIY
project because the work
is more time-consuming
than difficult, says Danielle
Keperling, who with her
parents and husband owns
Historic Restorations in
Lancaster. Her company is
open to teaching the how-tos
in order to reduce project
costs, she says.
To maintain a home’s
historical character, repairing
old windows — rather than
installing new ones — makes
a big difference, says Keper-
ling.
“Windows show the age
of the house,” she says.
Whenever Doug Heavilin
hires a professional to
work on his 1902 Queen
Anne Victorian in Franklin,
Indiana, he shadows the
person, soaking up as much
information as he can.
“I’ve learned 90 percent
of what I know about
plumbing by sitting there and
watching a plumber,” says
Heavilin, who is restoring
the 4,700-square-foot house
with his wife, Amy. They’ve
finished five of the home’s 22
rooms.
During their restoration
journey, they’ve learned to
install tile, hang wallpaper
and drywall, repair plaster,
and match stain and paint. He
once engineered a solution to
create rounded replacement
pieces for their home’s turret.
The
Heavilins
read
books and magazines, watch
videos, take classes and swap
tips with other homeowners
before starting a project.
But they also know things
might not go as planned,
and say it’s important to be
flexible. “You never know
what you’re going to find,”
says Amy Heavilin, recalling
the time they discovered that
their dining room chandelier
was wired to a pipe with a
coat hanger.
“We’re at the point where
I’m pretty comfortable
with whatever we find,”
Doug Heavilin adds. “I’m
not always happy, but I’m
comfortable.”
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