Digging into your home’s past can be fun, but it can also help you make aesthetic decisions and avoid costly mistakes. Architect Anik Pearson recalls a New York client who wanted to install a pool in his basement. She referred to historical maps of Manhattan that showed where all the waterways, wetlands and hills existed, and discovered a river underneath the townhouse. “They poked a hole in the basement and sure enough, there was running water. The river was still there.”
In this age of home renovation shows and YouTube tutorials, many homeowners consider bypassing a professional for what they think are easy cosmetic alterations. But mistakes can cost them more than an architect’s fee. A common example is when homeowners try restoring curb appeal with quick-and-dirty fixes, such as power-washing a stain or painting over an ugly house colour.
Stripping or removing paint is especially an area to exercise caution: Although in newer homes it’s safer because modern paints don’t contain harmful substances such as lead, old paints can contain such substances. But simply applying a new coat shouldn’t be a problem for DIYers.
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