A house with "good bones" built in the last few decades can be remodeled to create a home with the warmth and character of the homes that lined the Main Streets of New England in the early 18th and 19th centuries. As example, by changing the exterior appearance, a house can be transformed into an elegant home adorned with Greek Revival style elements. The Greek Revival style was popular in the early 1800's.
The extent to which an exterior transformation is taken can range from historically inspired by the architecture of a period to an actual reproduction of a particular early New England home. In the Greek Revival example above, the transformation to a new but old looking home might be accomplished by simply decorating the exterior of a house with authentic reproduction trim and installing entry ways framed with columns supporting a frieze and cornice.
Remodeling in this form is consistent with the architectural design concept of the new old home. Under the new old home concept the "old" period style home is reproduced using "new" trim and details that are historically accurate. Construction is done with innovative building techniques and the latest low maintenance building materials. Thus a home that appears to be 200 years old can actually achieve today's low maintenance and energy efficiency standards.
For the homeowner, there are monetary advantages that can be derived from the simple exterior facelift that transforms a home. First, a high return on investment can generally be expected since it would fall into that smaller to midrange project category that the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University says recovers a higher percentage of its cost*. Additionally, a New England traditional architecture home generally commands a higher selling price and maintains its price advantage over time because the architectural styling is timeless and the feeling the warmth inspired is very appealing.
Few would drive quickly through a quaint old New England village passing the stately homes on Main Street without taking a moment. Most people are compelled to slow down and comment on how beautiful the homes are. Is there anyone who doesn't love Main street in Woodstock Vt?
A word or two of caution is required. For an architect and a skilled residential general contractor with a love and eye for New England historical architecture and classic design principles, transforming a house into a home with a soul can be a relatively straight forward task. However, if these traits are not a special focus for the builder and architect, the results can be very disappointing.
It is also advisable to use the design build approach for a transformation project. The approach is highly appropriate because the New England historical architecture focused builder and architect work together from the very beginning of the project to identify the transformation elements that will achieve the look desired within the homeowner's budget.
* Home Builders and Remodelers of Cape Cod, Resource Directory 2009.