How to Update an Older Home

By Luke Smith on February, 28 2022
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Luke Smith

Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger. Since finishing college he has been trying his hand at being a freelance writer. When he isn't writing you can find him traveling, hiking, or gaming.

Investing in an older property can be a smart choice as a homeowner. Older homes can have a great deal of character reflective of the period they were built in, and they have a tendency to be lower in price, which provides investment opportunities and gives you more for your money.

However, older properties can require a myriad of updates. This might include replacing outdated or dangerous construction materials, or a full-scale aesthetic upgrade throughout the home. Knowing how to go about updating your home, though, is not always straightforward.

Let’s take a look at some of the key considerations to keep in mind when updating an older home.

Set Your Priorities

One of the challenges with updating an older home is doing so in an organized fashion. If you take a more improvisational approach, projects have the potential to get out of hand. Before you even purchase the house, you should already have a good impression of the structural integrity of the property. These elements should always be your first priority for updating. This is because they tend to be matters of safety, and also tend to be among the more expensive elements as they will usually require professional contractors.

You can then review lower-priority projects based on your needs. Take timing into account and remember: you don’t have to take care of the entire renovation all at once. Do you want to update bedrooms first to make them livable for your family before you tackle other areas? Is the bathroom serviceable in its current state so you can focus on installing a new heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system? Spacing activities out in this way can help you build up funds for each to-do item and allow you to handle some of the work yourself in your spare time.

Think Decorative and Functional

Updating an older home often comes down to replacing elements that aren’t suitable for your family or aren’t in fashion anymore. However, when dealing with a largely aesthetic renovation, it’s important to think about more than the look of things. Rather, consider how you and your family are going to live within the space. Consider how aspects can be both aesthetically pleasing and functional.

Another element of decoration and function you should consider is your own shifting tastes and needs. If there’s one thing that’s almost guaranteed it’s that your life and priorities will change over time. You don’t want to knock through two bedrooms to create a large recreational space only to find you later need to restore this to suit new additions to the family. Avoid making irreversible structural changes without careful consideration, and renovate and decorate with agility in mind.

Consider Your Impact

One of the benefits of updating an older property is that you get to undo some of the mistakes made by previous generations. Perhaps chief among these fixes at the moment is ensuring your property meets sustainability standards. This is everyone’s responsibility and can also help lower your regular utility costs.

Though older houses aren’t usually designed with energy efficiency in mind, you may not have to make a lot of structural changes to be impactful. As with other areas of your renovation, it’s important to review the property to ascertain where areas of energy inefficiency lie. You can then make relevant improvements, such as wall and roof insulation and sealing the windows. You’ll also find that smart energy systems are more accessible than ever. Indeed, there are kits to fit smart thermostats and even solar panels yourself if you’re confident in your abilities.

Alongside updating your home for greener operation, you should be cognizant of keeping your renovation activities green, too. Reduce your use of resources wherever possible. Seek to utilize building and decoration materials made from reusable or recycled materials. Avoid loud structural renovations that disturb local wildlife habitats.

Remember the Exterior

When homeowners think about updating an older property, there is a tendency to focus solely on the indoor living spaces. However, there are elements of the exterior property that are worth considering, too.

This could involve some simple landscaping of your yard. Treat it as you would any other room in your house. It can become a positive space for relaxation or meditation. You can implement storage solutions for equipment to boost the efficiency of your indoor and outdoor spaces. You can even treat it as an extension of your green activities by creating areas for composting or growing your own fruits and vegetables.

There are important exterior adjustments to consider that can influence the quality of your interior activities. Before undertaking renovations, you should perform a thorough roof inspection. Check for missing tiles, damaged flashing, and evidence of rot. You should also inspect window frames and house sidings for deterioration. The outside of the home undergoes continuous wear and tear. Taking care of common exterior fixes quickly can reduce the potential for internal damage in the future.


An older home can be both a charming place to put down roots as well as an exciting new project. When updating these types of buildings, it’s important to assess your priorities and think about both decorative and functional elements. It’s also your responsibility to mitigate any negative ecological impact. With an intentional and holistic consideration of your projects, you can update your older property effectively – every step of the way.