If you own a pre-war home, it's probably full of charming period details-- and persistent headaches. 

Quirky old-house nuisances are just a fact of life when your home has served many generations, even if it's been well maintained.

The key to trimming the cost of fixing these annoyances is finding someone who can repair, rather than replace, antique parts.

"Only kitchens and bathrooms need gut remodeling," says Les Fossel, a contractor specializing in 18th-century homes.  "Most everything else is fixable."


Cracked plaster walls

Fissures and chips don't mean you have to replace the handmade plaster with prefab wallboard (at $500 or more a room).  That usually destroys the orignal wood trim.  Instead, a restoration-minded pro can reattach the old plaster using special washers and then apply a plaster-like skim coat over the top, saving up to $200 per room, and your trim work.

Drafty windows

Old windows rattle, are hard to operate, and let in icy drafts.  Sure, you could replace them for a few hundred dollars each, but for units that maintain the character and value of an older home, you'll pay $1,000 or more a pop.

Have problem windows overhauled instead, for around $100-$200 each.  A carpenter will remove built-up paint, replace hardware, wax the rails, and weather-strip gaps, making the windows easier to open and close, and about 80% as efficient as new ones.

Squeaky wood floors

Time, and multiple refinishings, take a toll on old floors, sometimes leaving them deafeningly creaky.  A good woodworker can stop floorboards from rubbing together for about $200-$500, usually by sinking micro-head screws through them and into the framing below.  The screws don't require putty.  When you wash your floor, the wood will expand and hide the holes.

Loose stair banister

Don't let a hack replace a rickety handrail.  Spindles can be tightened at each step, and there's often a hidden pocket in the newel post at the base of the stiars.  Inside is a nut that will firm up the post, strengthening the whole banister.  This is a simple $200 fix for someone who knows what they're doing. 

For contractor recommendations, contact the Spoerle Team today at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.