Modernizing an older home needs to be a careful balancing act. There are likely to be some outdated features that are unsafe or ugly – these are the features that need to be fixed or replaced. At the same time, there are likely to be charming historical features that add to the character and value of your home – these need to be preserved as much as possible.

But just which features should you update? And which should you preserve? This post outlines 20 important dos and don’ts to consider when modernizing an older home – including some tips on how to go about replacing and restoring certain features. 

DO upgrade the insulation

Many older homes are poorly insulated. This means that they get colder faster and cost more money to heat up. A lot of heat is typically lost through old windows and doors, however it can also be lost through the roof and walls. Take the time to assess which parts of your home are uninsulated and consider different methods of insulating them. This could include filling cavity walls, covering the attic with blanket insulation and installing fiberglass double pane windows. Insulation companies can help recommend the best value insulation methods for your home and install these for you.

DON’T replace old timber windows

Got some original timber windows in your property? Even if they are letting out heat, these are the types of windows that you don’t want to replace, as they can be sought after historical features. Old wooden windows with flaking paint and even some minor rot can still be restored by seeking out specialists. To continue preserving them, clean them and regularly repaint/refinish them. 

DON’T replace stained glass windows

Old stained glass should also not be replaced. Some of this glass could date back 100 years or more, and could be a unique piece of history that also elevates the price tag of your home. Unless a stained glass window is already broken, refrain from removing it. This guide explains how to look after stained glass windows

DO remove glass blocks

Glass blocks became popular in the 1940s and had a revival in the 1980s. They haven’t aged particularly well – they can’t be opened like windows and have a bulky appearance that many people dislike. Original art deco glass blocks can still have some charm, but most 80s frosted varieties look tacky  and are worth gutting out.

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DON’T remove original handmade doors

An original wooden handmade door from over a century ago could be an essential part of your home’s character. In fact, historic front doors can add a huge amount of value to a home. Unless they’re completely falling apart, try to preserve any historic doors on your property.

DO consider updating the locks

Old doors can pose a security threat, so you may want to still update the locks. There are companies out there that can install new locks onto old doors. Some security companies may also be able to help you explore ways of reinforcing these doors. Alarms can also be worth adding to these doors for peace of mind. 

DO replace old wiring

Wiring that is over 30 years old can be a fire risk. Some homes still have wiring that is over 100 years old. Replacing this old wiring could be essential for your safety – particularly if you’ve already experienced warning signs like flickering lights and dead sockets. Residential electricians can carry out this task for you.

DO add more electrical sockets

While replacing old wiring, consider whether it could be worth installing some new electrical outlets. Many older homes were built during a time when electronic appliances weren’t as common and so sockets tend to be quite sparse. It could be worth adding a couple extra sockets to rooms like your kitchen, living room or bedroom if you find yourself commonly relying on multi-socket extension cables. 

DO switch to LED lighting

LED light bulbs are more expensive to buy than incandescent bulbs, but they use less electricity and last longer. They’re also brighter than incandescent bulbs. This makes them a much more economical and practical way to illuminate your home. Consider going around your home and replacing any old bulbs that you can find.