The complete renovation and or preservation of a house can only be accessed by the amount of work there is to do, and to what level of preservation you would like to attain. The exterior of the house should be tackled during the months of good weather, this is the basis of this episode/article in this three part series.
Plan repointing and paint work between the months of June and September. Interior work can be reserved for the winter months or inclement periods. Create a calendar or schedule and plot all work needing attention for the period of time you think your work will require. Try to stick to your schedule. You might even want to plan your vacation in order to use it to work on your home.
Managing your roof and ground water is also very important to the health of your old house. Be sure your eaves-troughs are in good repair, including downspouts fitted with good extensions which should expel water on splash blocks to avoid soil erosion. And remember our first segment in our series – get the best roof you can afford to not allow water penetration and inevitable rot!
Deteriorating wood siding, mill-work, decorative columns, soffits and eaves should be restored at all costs, either by using a two-part epoxy such as Rhino Wood Repair, or by replacing the damaged area with an exact replica if badly decayed. Remember, all exterior wood should be primed and maintained on a regular basis to not have a re-occurrence of damage.
Repointing masonry work is also very important in order to keep moisture from spalling your masonry. Remember that only an all-lime mortar mix should be employed. Portland cement in any amounts will destroy hand-made-bricks, as it is far too hard and can create a whole host of problems in the future. Make certain that all flashing is in good condition – and replace if necessary.
Most wet basements can be attributed to poor management of roof and ground water. Never excavate a stone foundation to replace weeping tiles; the lime which was once part of the mortar will have long since leached off, leaving nothing more than a pile of un-bonded stones. Complete collapse can result if the foundation is excavated. Water management through properly working eaves-troughs and downspouts emptying into swales (small ditches) diverting water away from your home or into a dry-well, is the answer.
The most character-defining elements of an old house are its windows and doors. Restore windows and doors using the same epoxy techniques mentioned earlier. Restore wood storms or learn to make them yourself.
An old wood window coupled with a well fitting wood storm are equal to or even more efficient than any vinyl or replacement window on the market. Missing hardware and period wood replacement doors for those uncharacteristic steel doors can be found at your local architectural salvage yards. The most important issue with respect to the health of your old house is to keep the water out.