Old Home Restoration in LA: Bringing the Past to Life

Old home restorations in Los Angeles are a labor of love that requires careful planning, attention to detail, and the right team of experts. In this blog, we’ll share everything you need to know about what it takes to restore an old home in LA, including considerations, challenges, local guidelines, and finding the right contractor. 

Here at GreatBuildz, a free service that connects homeowners in Los Angeles with reliable general contractors, we frequently speak to homeowners about their old home restoration projects in Los Angeles. Continue reading to learn about the old home restoration process and to ensure that your remodeling project goes smoothly.

old style looking house

Considerations Before Beginning an Old Home Restoration 

Before beginning an old home restoration, it’s essential to carefully assess the property and take into account various factors to ensure a successful and well-planned restoration process.

Here are some key considerations:

Budget planning

Old home restorations can be expensive, and unexpected issues may arise during the process. It’s crucial to set a realistic budget and leave some room for contingencies. 

Research the home’s history

Understanding the historical significance and architectural style of the home can help guide the restoration process. Look for original blueprints, photographs, or documents related to the property. This will help you maintain the home’s authenticity during the restoration.

Permits and regulations

Before starting any restoration work, check with your local authorities to determine if any permits or approvals are required for the renovations. Old homes may be subject to specific preservation regulations, and compliance is essential to avoid legal issues.

Preservation vs. renovation

Decide whether you want to preserve the home’s original features or if you are open to modernizing certain aspects. Striking a balance between preservation and modernization is important to maintain the home’s character while ensuring it meets your needs.


Restoring an old home is a time-consuming process, and it’s essential to have a clear timeframe in mind. Delays are common in such projects, so be prepared for the restoration to take longer than expected.

Health and safety concerns

Older homes might have hazardous materials like lead-based paint or asbestos. Make sure to address these health and safety concerns by hiring professionals who are experienced in handling such materials safely.

Future maintenance

Old homes require ongoing maintenance to preserve their beauty and functionality. Consider the long-term maintenance needs and costs when planning the restoration.

Insurance coverage

Check with your insurance provider to ensure that your restoration project is adequately covered during the process. Restoration work can increase the property’s value, and you’ll want to protect your investment.

Considerations Before Beginning an Old Home Restoration

Challenges of Restoring an Old House

Restoring an old house can be a rewarding endeavor, but it also comes with a unique set of challenges. Here are some of the common challenges faced during the restoration process:

  • Hidden structural issues: Old houses may have concealed structural problems, such as foundation damage, termite infestations, or rotting wood. These issues can be costly to address and may require extensive repairs before any cosmetic restoration work can begin.
  • Obtaining original materials: Finding authentic and historically accurate materials for restoration can be challenging. Many materials used in old homes may no longer be readily available, making it necessary to search for specialized suppliers or consider custom fabrication.
  • Finding skilled craftsmen: Restoring an old house often involves specialized craftsmanship to replicate historical details accurately. Finding skilled craftsmen who are knowledgeable about traditional construction techniques can be challenging.
  • Energy efficiency upgrades: Incorporating energy-efficient elements into an old house can be a challenge, especially when trying to maintain its historical appearance. Balancing energy efficiency with preservation may require creative solutions.
  • Adapting to modern lifestyles: Many old houses were designed for different lifestyles and may not have layouts that suit contemporary needs. Adapting the space to accommodate modern living arrangements can be a complex task.

Despite these challenges, restoring an old house can be a deeply fulfilling experience, as it allows homeowners to breathe new life into a piece of history.

With careful planning, expert guidance, and a willingness to adapt, many of the challenges can be overcome, resulting in a beautifully restored home that stands the test of time.

challenges of restoring old home

Historic Home Guidelines in Los Angeles

Historic Preservation Overlay Zones (HPOZs) are designated areas in Los Angeles that contain significant concentrations of historic buildings and homes. The purpose of establishing HPOZs is to preserve the architectural character and cultural heritage of these neighborhoods. 

Each HPOZ has an Architectural Review Board (ARB) responsible for overseeing and enforcing the preservation guidelines. The ARB is composed of experts in historic preservation, architecture, and design who review proposed changes to properties within the zone.

HPOZ guidelines typically regulate exterior alterations of historic homes. Homeowners may need to obtain approval from the ARB for changes such as window replacements, roofing, paint colors, and architectural additions.

Further, when restoring or renovating a historic home in an HPOZ, the guidelines often require the use of period-appropriate materials. This ensures that any repairs or additions are in line with the original design and materials used during the home’s construction.

And in addition to preserving the homes, HPOZ guidelines may also include provisions for protecting historic landscaping elements, such as trees, gardens, and hardscaping.

Los Angeles historical preservation

While adherence to HPOZ guidelines may seem restrictive, there are several advantages to living in an HPOZ. Historic homes within designated zones often retain their property value better, benefit from community support for preservation efforts, and contribute to a unique and vibrant neighborhood character.

old home to be rennovated

Finding the Right Contractor for an Old Home Restoration

Finding the right contractor for an old home renovation is crucial to the success of the project. Here are some key considerations:

  • Experience with historic homes: Look for contractors who have specific experience working on historic or old homes. These properties require a different set of skills and knowledge than modern homes. Contractors with a background in historical restoration are more likely to understand the nuances of preserving and restoring original features.
  • Knowledge of building codes and permits: Old home renovations must comply with building codes and obtain the necessary permits. A reputable contractor should be well-versed in these regulations and handle the paperwork efficiently.
  • Flexibility and problem-solving skills: Old homes often present unexpected challenges during renovations. A good contractor should be flexible, adaptable, and capable of finding creative solutions to unforeseen issues.
  • Trust your instincts: Ultimately, trust your instincts when selecting a contractor. If something feels off or you have doubts about a contractor’s abilities, it’s better to keep searching for the right fit.

GreatBuildz is a free service that personally matches homeowners with ethical, trustworthy general contractors. To get matched with a pre-vetted contractor experienced in fixing up classic home and various old home restorations, contact GreatBuildz today at (818.317.3567) or visit our website.

Hi, we're Paul and Jon - Co-Founders of GreatBuildz. We believe everyone deserves to find a great contractor, have a stress-free renovation, and enjoy their beautiful new space. There are so many contractors out there and it's often hard to tell the good from the bad... until it's too late. We started our company to help simplify your contractor search and help you have a stress-free renovation experience. We're always available to help, no matter where you are in the process. Click here to learn more about our story.

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