It’s no surprise my favorite homes happen to be the oldest homes. I love walking into a home and seeing all the character they bring from wide plank floors to all the wood craftsmanship found around every nook and cranny. Detail is something to be admired and appreciated because often times in newer homes it can be hard to come by.
For this blog I decided to dedicate it to interviewing a local contractor Chris Bouchard (in the NH, MA area) to find out more about the restoration process. Chris is originally from Methuen, MA and currently works in the surrounding area.
Chris to start this off, how long have you been a contractor and where do you work?
I have been in the industry for 6+ years. Originally I started out by working small jobs and as time went on I developed my skills in various areas of construction allowing me to open up my own business, Valley Home Solutions LLC.
How well do you know antique properties ?
I have done a lot of work on antique homes and old commercial buildings when I worked for a former employer. I have done my fair share of roofing from old courthouses, schools to libraries. Over the years I’ve been involved in small to large carpentry and paint projects on antique buildings.
What is your typical process when a client asks for a quote to restore an antique property?
First I need to have a full scope of exactly what needs to get done, it’s easy to overlook something that ends up taking a lot of time and energy. After I get a stock list of all materials I need to complete the job, I can work on pricing out materials and labor.
In antique properties especially you have to account for natural settling of the building and how that will effect reinstallation of new material as well as rot from wood and building materials.
What sort of work goes into restoring an antique home?
It all depends on the project. The two biggest projects I run into the most are carpentry and paint. I almost always find some carpenter ant and or termite damage in old homes either in the wide open or underneath old wall paper. Removing old wallpaper can be a tedious task, but is worth it for a smooth painting surface.
People who buy antique homes usually want to keep the home as true to the era as possible. Before beginning work on any home antique or not, I take a look at the home from the outside in. As a consumer you definitely want to make sure that anything load bearing is in good shape (foundations / load bearing beams). I always look at what kind of shape the roof is in from the inside. That usually give me a good indicator of what type of rot issues I will run into.
Probably the third largest factor is insulation. Old homes tend to not be very energy efficient. I usually advise new energy efficient windows, doors and appliances to help with electric, heating and cooling cost.
Any outside factors that could hinder a project?
Probably the number one thing most people don’t consider is wildlife. If there is an infestation such as bats you have to be careful removing them or enclosing their current living situation as they are a protected species. Special wildlife teams may need to called in to assist with the removal in a safe way to prevent harming the animals. If this is done incorrectly you could get fined!
What kind of questions should a homeowner ask a general contractor to make sure they are right for the job?
My first recommendation to any homeowner is to go on social media and do a little research on the company, from what people are saying about their work to understanding their business objective.
Beyond that I would ask about their qualifications and work history. As well as making sure they had insurance and were a licensed contractor.
What current projects are you working on?
I just completed a foundation repair and drainage system on an antique property in Hopkinton, NH. On that home I am working on soffit, fascia board repairs with plans to complete roofing, as well as prepping for a future paint jobs. I also just installed luxury vinyl flooring in the new LAER Wellesley office and my team and I will be renovating another rental unit.
Thank you Chris for all your insight into restoring an antique home. If anyone is looking for home repairs in MA and NH and need help on a home project, Chris can be reached at (978) 606 8081, VALLEYHOMESOLUTIONSMA@GMAIL.COM or under Facebook page VALLEY HOME SOLUTIONS LLC.
Till next time,