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Preservation Tips for a Historic Lakefront Home

preservation tips for lakefront homes

Life on a lake is pure bliss and even better if you’re living in a historic home. However, property upkeep can become a significant burden if you aren’t maintaining it appropriately. The benefits of lake life and historic home living do come with additional preservation considerations.

You’re more likely to experience extreme weather conditions, moisture-related damage, and expensive, historically accurate repairs. Keeping up with your home’s unique needs, rather than putting off maintenance until there’s an emergency, will save your property, sanity, and wallet. These tips will help you preserve your historic lakefront home with minimal hassle and great reward.

1. Understand the History

Especially if you’ve recently purchased your home, you’ll want to take some time to get to know its distinct character and features. Your house likely has many intricacies specific to its era and location.

Before completing any renovations or preservation projects, do some sleuthing around your home. You never know what treasure that ugly carpet or shoddy vinyl siding could be covering up.

Another way to get to know your home is to research its past. You can check many possible places to learn more about your property’s history, like a local historical society, town hall, or library. This will help familiarize you with any unique features or historic codes that should be minded before renovations get underway.

2. Repair Before Replacing

Don’t despair over disrepair! Even the most worn-looking floors and plaster walls can be made new again. Materials used 100 years ago were of an entirely different quality than they are now, usually for the better. For example, often older wood was cut from virgin forests and is more water-, fire-, and termite-resistant than today’s lumber — which you might not have assumed.

Repairing the original features rather than replacing them will maintain your lakefront home’s historical and structural integrity. Also, in most cases, repair costs much less than removal and replacement. Plaster walls, for example, are costly in time, materials, and labor. Patch jobs are much less expensive than replacing whole sections.

3. Waterproof Your Home

An essential aspect of living close to a lake is waterproofing your home as part of your regular maintenance routine. You’ll want to check your roof for leaks or damage to the shingles or gutters.

Many older homes also have painted wood siding and porches. While these features are beautiful, they’re susceptible to mold, mildew, and rot if they’re left untreated. Maintain a fresh coat of paint or sealant on your home’s exterior and repair any visible cracks to prevent moisture from getting into and behind the wood.

For the interior of your home, you’ll want to invest in a quality dehumidifier. This should keep your paint and plaster from chipping or cracking. Your woodwork will also remain in better shape when you run a dehumidifier regularly. 

4. Choose Historic Finishes

That being said, waterproofing and historic integrity can stay in balance. Damp lake weather can be hard on a home’s exterior and interior, so you’ll likely have to replace something during your time there. Depending on the care the property has had, moisture-sensitive materials like original hardwood flooring might have taken a heavy beating.

You can make balanced choices between weather-resistant touches and the home’s original style. For example, highly skilled carpenters can help you recreate any woodwork in your home, like trim and cabinetry. If your wood floors are beyond repair, replace them with engineered hardwood flooring so they’ll hold up better to the humid lake air. You can also work on restoring windows rather than replacing them to match the historical integrity of your home.

These are all personal choices impacted by the severity of weather, your budget and your commitment to restoration. Finding a happy medium can go a long way toward keeping your lakefront home preserved and livable for years to come.

Preservation Is Worth the Effort For Lakefront Homes

Odds are good you purchased this particular house because you fell in love with its unique character and charm. Going the extra mile to repair what’s already there, and replace other materials with caution, will maintain the beauty of the original.

Also, since your historic home is lakefront property, you’ll need to keep up with the regular maintenance that entails. Even though all these considerations may feel like a hassle, preserving your historic lakefront home will be 100% worth it.

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