Skip to main content

Austin is a city known for its vibrant culture, eclectic charm, and rich history. However, in recent years, it’s experienced a surge in growth and modern urbanization. While development is essential for progress, it’s equally important to safeguard the historical integrity of neighborhoods that have shaped the city’s identity.

From the iconic Victorian houses of Hyde Park to the quaint bungalows of Travis Heights, the early homes of Austin tell a story of its past. Historic homes offer more than just architectural beauty; they serve as tangible connections to bygone eras, reminding us of the people, events, and stories that have shaped Austin’s development. 

At Skelly Build, we’re proud to have played a role in preserving Austin’s character and honoring its history by completing several notable historical home renovations. But we’ll be the first to admit that renovating older homes presents a unique set of challenges and considerations that differ from modern construction projects. 

If you’re planning to embark on a restoration or renovation of your own historic property, here are six strategies to help you both reach your goals and relish the journey. With the proper planning–and a skilled team of professionals in place–it’s possible to breathe new life and add modern amenities to your home while preserving its original character and timeless allure.

1. Collaborate With Historical Home Experts

Successful historical renovations often require the expertise of builders, architects, designers, and engineers. Working closely with professionals who understand the nuances of historical homes ensures that any changes to the property maintain authenticity while meeting modern living standards. 

When choosing your advisers, you should also consider factors like reputation, professionalism, transparency, reliability, and responsiveness. Are their processes and construction documents clearly communicated? Are they fully insured and properly licensed for your protection? Do they guarantee their work with a written warranty? 

If you choose to hire Skelly as your builder, depending on the scope of your project, we can help you assemble a team of professionals with the experience and credentials needed to meet your renovation and restoration goals while adhering to your desired budget and timeline.

2. Embrace the Restoration Journey 

For many historical home owners, renovations are more than just a home improvement project—they’re a labor of love. Each step of the process presents an opportunity to honor the craftsmanship of generations past.

Throughout the process, be sure to celebrate the small victories and milestones, whether it’s uncovering a hidden gem beneath layers of wallpaper or watching sunlight stream through newly restored windows.

However, it’s important to be prepared for less desirable discoveries, as well. From outdated electrical wiring to concealed structural issues, older homes can sometimes reveal unexpected challenges. Fortunately, almost every construction problem has a solution, and our team of experts will be on-hand to troubleshoot creative resolutions along the way.

3. Honor the Heritage of Your Home

Whether you recently purchased the property or it’s been owned by your family for generations, you may not be fully aware of its history. That’s why, before diving into renovations, we will work with you to research your home’s history, architectural style, and any preservation guidelines or restrictions in place. This groundwork ensures that renovations respect the home’s original design and cultural significance.

It’s also important to choose features, construction methods, and materials that honor your property’s unique past. In many cases, we’ll work closely with your designer or architect to help bring your vision to life. From period-inspired wallpaper to custom light fixtures, every element can be carefully curated to complement the home’s unique architectural heritage. 

4. Navigate Historic Home Renovation Rules

Renovating a historical home can involve a complex web of regulations and guidelines. From the City of Austin’s Historic Design Standards to code compliance, permitting, and homeowners association requirements, striking a balance between preservation and modernization can be challenging. Fortunately, our project managers and permitting specialists regularly navigate these hurdles and can manage the entire process for you.

Adhering to these regulations can add time and cost to your project, but they also offer valuable benefits. For example, permits help protect the homeowner from shoddy construction, code violations, and safety hazards. When you apply for a permit, an inspector will visit your home at each stage of the job to verify building codes, city codes, and applicable ordinances are being completed correctly by licensed technicians. 

5. Maintain Effective Communication Throughout the Project

Perhaps the most crucial aspect of a successful renovation is effective communication. Maintaining open lines of dialogue between clients, construction partners, subcontractors, and regulatory agencies helps to ensure that everyone is aligned and informed each step of the way. 

Depending on the scope of your renovation, it can be challenging to pinpoint an exact timeline at the beginning of a project. We use historical data from our past jobs to estimate the time it should take to complete each phase of a remodel, but the unique nature of historical renovations makes them particularly prone to unexpected delays. 

Daily logs and photos, regular updates, and proactive problem-solving are essential tools for overcoming challenges and keeping the project on track. At Skelly Build, we utilize a project management software, Buildertrend, to give you a detailed view of your project that’s accessible anytime and from anywhere in the world.

6. Celebrate the Transformation and Revitalization

Despite the challenges, renovating a historic house can be a deeply rewarding experience. Witnessing the transformation of a neglected or outdated property into a vibrant, functional space is both gratifying and awe-inspiring. Each restored detail and preserved element contributes to the home’s story, honoring its past while embracing its future.

Our clients who have been through the process tell us that their historical home renovations have been life-changing. They get to enjoy the best of both worlds now: the unparalleled beauty and architecture of a bygone era and the amenities and functionality of a modern space.

View Examples of Our Completed Historical Home Renovation Projects


As Austin continues to evolve, it’s essential to strike a balance between progress and preservation. By valuing and investing in our older homes, we ensure that future generations can experience the diverse tapestry of Austin’s architectural legacy.

If you’re a historical homeowner who is ready to embark on a journey to renovate or restore your property, we’d love to help! Contact us today to discuss your goals and vision. Together we can revive history and create a home for you that’s truly extraordinary.

We understand how it feels to be frustrated with an unfunctional space. Whether it’s a historical home, office, or commercial space, we build your happy place through a simple construction process.
Call us at 512.810.5400 or submit a request to schedule a complimentary project consultation.