Preservation Step Three comes after identifying and illuminating historic and architecturally significant homes and contacting and cultivating the homeowners like the owners of the David Williams designed home. Preservation Step Three is a gamechanger. Architects and interior designers can create a vision for a renovated home. Inspectors, contractors and appraisers can determine the cost and economic viability of a renovated home. In this article I will be discussing Preservation Step Three and Preservation Step Four of saving homes.
Preservation Step Three – Enlisting architects and interior designers to create a vision.
Step Three calls for preservationists and stakeholders to encourage architects and interior designers to create preliminary sketches on how to best approach renovations in a way that maintains the historic home’s character and optimizes its value in the marketplace. This step is a gamechanger because it levels the playing field for buyers who want to renovate the home and buyers who just want the property just for the lot. Buying a lot takes little thought, time and energy. A realtor tells the buyer the lot dimensions and the buyer can then immediately makes a cash offer. There’s no need for the buyer to see inside the home, much less to arrange for an architect to see the home and evaluate its potential for renovation.
Architects Can Provide Architectural Vision of a Home in Advance of it Going on the Market
Before an architecturally significant listing ever goes on the market, an architect can do the preliminary thinking for a buyer. An architect can take into consideration the space needs and room sizes of contemporary living and draw a floorplan that subtly moves walls where needed. An architect can also sympathetically sketch additional space if the home is painfully too small for the lot.
Having Architectural Vision in Advance Levels the Playing Field and is Key of Preservation Step Three
When an architect proactively creates this architectural vision, before the home goes on the market, a buyer desiring to renovate the home is on more equal footing with a “lot only” buyer. As soon as the home goes on the market, a buyer can see the architectural vision of a renovated home which puts them in a more competitive position with a lot buyer.
An Interior Designer Can Add Additional Advantage to a Homebuyer Being Competitive is Another Key To Preservation Step Three
Another key of Preservation Step Three is having an interior designer contribute to this effort to help buyers see the potential in an historic home before it goes to market. The designer can create a design board that shows finishes, materials and colors that illustrate the appeal of the space the architect sketched. This gives a homebuyer a quicker understanding of the appeal and viability of the historic home in their contemporary life.
Recognizing the Natural Attributes of Historic Homes Propels Saving Homes
Recently, designer Michael Lee (who has successfully designed the renovation of more than 100 homes in California and Dallas) said something very interesting to me regarding saving homes: When he meets with clients who are deciding whether to renovate or tear down a home, he always brings with him an old photograph of the home, preferably black and white. He does this so his client can see what the historic home looked like before modifications, alterations, enhancements, or landscaping visually changed the proportions of the home over the years. When seeing the home’s original look and setting, Michael says, his clients are often excited about preserving the home and transforming it to make it current. It is important to remember that when saving homes, it is not just about showing what can be done but showing what the home originally was.
Architect-Drawn Floorplans and Pen and Ink Drawing of Original Home was Only Hope for Saving and Selling Early Munger Place Homes
As Michael Lee and I continued our conversation, I recalled an experience from early in my career. I was trying to sell deteriorated houses in Munger Place that had been turned into four apartments and was teeming with irresponsible tenants. This type of property was considered virtually impossible to sell to a future homeowner. Out of instinct or necessity, I did much the same thing for potential homebuyers as Michael Lee does today. I retained an architect to draw plans of the original single-family floorplan that removed the bathroom in the living room, the three extra kitchens, and added walls that had since been added. Also, I would have an architect do a pen and ink drawing of what the original facade looked like before a closed-in front porch, with three front doors, had been added. Renovation plans could come later, but I wanted buyers first to get a sense of the original elegance of the 1905 modern home. Every one of these original homes in Munger Place are now renovated and are on the National Register and in the Munger Place Historic District.
Illustrating Original Homes in Highland Park Will Facilitate Saving Them
Just as illustrating homes in Munger Place helped interest potential buyers who ended up renovating Munger Place homes, illustrating what an original Highland Park home looked like originally could attract potential Highland Park buyers to at least consider renovation. Once the original design of the home is clarified, a renovation design accentuating its natural attributes can be created, giving the homebuyer the confidence to preserve the home and renovate it.
Step Four for Saving Homes – Contractors, Inspectors and Appraisers Can Estimate Renovation Cost and Determine Value
After preservationists have identified historic homes, cultivated current homeowners, and enlisted architects and interior designers to create a vision for each home’s renovation, Step Four propels forward the preservation on the home. In this step inspectors, contractors, appraisers can confirm the cost and economic viability of a buyer renovating a historic home. This step is done by having inspectors, contractors and appraisers evaluate the condition of the home, the approximate cost of repairs and renovation needed to create the architect’s and interior designer’s vision. This along with the appraisal is a way of confirming the value and economic viability of the home once renovated. This fourth step is incredibly helpful to buyers of historic and architecturally significant homes as it takes away much of the uncertainty of whether the renovated home is within their price parameters.
In most cases, a lot buyer already has cost estimates from a builder in hand. House plans may already be drawn and is ready to build. This gives a lot buyer an added advantage of being able to make an offer quickly and close quickly. If the groundwork is done for renovation before a home goes on the market — an inspector inspects the home, a contractor estimates the renovation cost for the home, and an appraiser determines the value of the home once it is fully renovated — the homebuyer interested in renovation can also make an expedited decision. This buyer might renovate the home in a much different way than the preliminary plans, but at least the buyer knows the aesthetic and economic parameters with which they are working.
Historic Homes Have More Value if the Preliminary Thinking can be Done for the Buyer
Generally, buyers desiring to buy a historic or architecturally significant home are smart and sophisticated buyers. Nevertheless, they have busy schedules and time constraints that compromise their ability to quickly assess a historic home and retain architects, designers, contractors and appraisers to make a quick assessment. As a result, the seller, who is usually told by their listing agent that the home is worth only lot value, is happy to take a quick cash offer from a lot buyer.
If a homeowner, a preservation nonprofit or a realtor makes an up front investment to best show the potential of a historic home, preservation and renovation are more likely to occur, and the seller may even attract a higher selling price. If the seller brings the home to market with a full assessment of the home’s potential, and a realtor distributes that information to potential homebuyers when the home goes on the market, buyers who desire to renovate the home can make a relatively quick decision and pay more money for the home than a lot buyer. This is the reason why if before the house goes on the market, the seller has renovation plans, the estimated cost of renovation and the value of the home once renovated, the seller will be able to obtain a higher price from a homebuyer and another home will be saved.