|It's practically never necessary to completely gut|
the interior of a fine old building.
My friend’s house stood in the way of a high-rise bank project, and was condemned under eminent domain laws. Rather than being torn down, however, someone bought the house with the intention of moving it to another site and renovating it.
|Totally gutting an interior makes it easy on contractors|
who want to run plumbing, wiring, and ductwork—
but often to the home's permanent detriment.
The new owner wanted to modify the floor plan, so he stripped the interior of its plasterwork, obliterating the archways, coffered ceilings, and mahogany trim in one stroke. The tile porches succumbed to an inept attempt at dry-rot repair, as did much of the exterior stucco. As a coup de grace, the marvelously shaggy, moss-grown shake roof was stripped off and replaced with two-dimensional composition shingle.
|It may look bad now, but it's perfectly feasible to repair|
an interior in this condition without ripping down
the whole place...
I’m sure the owner didn’t do these things maliciously. He must have admired something about the house, or he wouldn’t have purchased it in the first place. But that only redoubles my wonderment at his remarkably careless renovation. He should have taken the time to learn about the house’s style, and what made it special.
The lesson here is that, as far as remodeling or renovation are concerned, there’s a definite point of no return. When too many charismatic features or idiosyncrasies are stripped away, a house loses the spirit that makes it special.
|...and the result will be superior, because you simply can't|
capture the feeling of an interior like this one
with modern-day materials.
I’ve already expended thousands of words in prior essays arguing against changes to roofing materials and exterior finish. Often, such changes are made to keep up with some perceived idea of what’s “modern”, but usually, within a few years, they only succeed in making a house look even more dated.
Aside from their devastating esthetic damage, such drastic modifications simply don’t make economic sense. If you really want a brand-new house, it's better to just buy one in the first place.