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sustainable historic home remodelers in Boston

Sustainable Historic Home Remodelers in Boston

By Laura BourlandRise Writer
Aug 2, 2018

From Fenway Park to the Freedom Trail, Boston draws tourists and new citizens from around the world, but it’s Boston’s historic buildings that continually surprise and stun visitors. Founded in 1630, Boston is home to an eclectic array of buildings ranging in style from Colonial and Federal to Shingle and Victorian. It’s no wonder these homes are some of the most photographed in the states.

But as the 1600s sink further into history, our historic buildings are in need of modern remodeling and historical preservation. These two seemingly contradictory goals can both be met; we’re here to help you better understand your options for restoring and remodeling your home to make it not only a lasting piece of history but a comfortable and more efficient place for you and your family to live.

Preserving Boston’s History

In most American cities, homebuyers seek new construction tract homes for their luxurious modern features and convenient cul-de-sac arrangement. But Bostonians don’t have to settle for the norm! 

Tearing down a house and building new is for sure one strategy to create a more sustainable home, but it’s far more sustainable to restore the existing house if the bones are still strong. And, with Boston’s ingenious remodelers and builders, it’s entirely possible to maintain the historic façade while adding 21st-century luxuries and even innovative smart and sustainable technologies. 

Historic New England offers a wealth of resources to help you better understand and plan for your historic home renovation. We recommend you bookmark this page!

Architecture Styles Popular in Boston

Probably the oldest style of home in Boston is the Colonial, dating back to the 17thcentury. These homes, like their cousin, the Cape Cod house, were built to withstand the harsh winters in the Northeast—and last they did! 

It’s hard to believe a house built in the 1600s could still be standing and inhabitable, but they’re scattered all over New England, including the popular Colonial House of the Seven Gables in Salem. These houses are traditionally 1-2 rooms and feature heavy doors for insulation and steep roofs designed to shed heavy snowfall. If you’re lucky enough to own one of these historical artifacts, there are a variety of remodeling options available to reinforce the structure and modernize the interior, like sectioning the large open space into rooms for better functionality. 

Georgian Houses (like the Georgian Ropes Mansion in Salem) are a larger, more civilized iteration of the Colonial House, and stand out among Boston’s streets with their boastful, oversized doors flanked by columns and a decorative crown. The similar Adam-Style or Federal House is a Boston institution, adorned in rounded fanlight windows, decorative cornices, friezes, balconies, and porches. The Beacon Hill neighborhood of Federal stone row houses is an example of these picture-perfect New England homes.

Among the many styles of homes in Boston, the Greek Revival and Victorian Houses draw romantic homebuyers, with their steep and patterned roofs, stained glass windows, complex shapes like hexagons and arches—and lots and lots of porches. Boston remodeling teams specialize in these houses, updating plumbing and electrical systems to improving overall energy conservation and long-term durability.

Remodel Sustainably: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle!

As with any remodeling or building project, your plan should always include sustainable plans for construction waste and material purchasing. You can reduce your construction waste by making plans to avoid overbuying, use standard-sized materials, and choose sturdy and sustainable fasteners.

Repurposing existing building materials is a growing trend, and materials are readily available at places like Habitat for Humanity’s ReStores, Goodwill, Craigslist, garage/yard sales and local Boston reuse and thrift stores. Learn more about how you can reuse existing materials to remodel your house.

When drawing up plans to renovate your house, remember to include a plan for recycling excess and waste materials. Things like material packaging, drywall, insulation, wood, and even sawdust can be recycled. Set up recycling bins at the start of your remodeling project to make sustainable clean up quick and easy! 

When interviewing builders for your home renovation, be sure to ask questions about their sustainable practices to ensure their standards meet your needs.

Builders Up to the Job of Your Boston Home Remodel

Choosing to remodel a historic home requires the right builder to both update existing features and preserve the same architectural style to maintain the authenticity of the building. We’ve included a few Boston builders who, from our research, seem up to the challenge below to aid in your historic home remodel. 

M.F. Reynolds is one of the original renovators of Boston historic homes, a business started in 1890! The team of skilled craftsmen and builders have learned a thing or two in their mission to preserve the history of Boston and actively work to provide homeowners not only sustainable historic renovation, but one that also fits the realities of construction, procurement, and product durability. The fact that they offer ongoing services for long-term maintenance means they do not go away after the project is done, so they should be knowledgeable about how to build a home that lasts.

Landmark Services, led by Mark Landy, has been preserving historic Boston homes and barns for more than 25 years. The team is passionate about breathing new life into old structures, improving energy efficiency, and goes to great lengths to match tricky moldings and windows to maintain the historic integrity of the house. Their health-minded, comfortable and responsible historic home renovations and additions have earned the team numerous awards as well as a few magazine features.

Morse Constructions Incorporated specializes in historic home renovations and additions. Their team has transformed and updated Boston historic homes since 1976 and continues to discover new ways to enhance and modernize the lives of those living within the time-honored walls. Every project they work on begins with a complete energy audit, including recommendations to improve energy efficiency and build using locally sourced, toxin-free materials.

S+H Construction has been serving the Boston area for over 40 years and has become widely known for their complex renovations and innovation, including the development of a new basement waterproofing technique that successfully protects walls from damp weather. Their home renovations include reclaimed materials, radiant heat to reduce forced heat consumption, historic add-ons, chimney flue replacements, and historically accurate restoration of original word work.

ZeroEnergy Design is a full-service architecture practice specializing in green design. They’ve won numerous awards for renovations and new builds meeting standards for Passive House, Net Zero and Net Positive Energy, Deep Energy Retrofit and more. Experts in energy design, the team implements solar, HVAC with energy recovery, radiant floors, triple-paned windows, natural lighting to decrease electrical use, HEPA filers for allergen control, and even hearty local landscaping and gardens. 

This is far from a complete list of Boston area builders and remodelers ready to help with your home renovation. Email us at hello@buildwithrise.com and tell us about your favorite Boston builder!

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute a product endorsement however Rise does reserve the right to recommend relevant products based on the articles content to provide a more comprehensive experience for the reader.Last Modified: 2020-05-26T14:16:10+0000
Laura Bourland

Article by:

Laura Bourland

Laura grew up in the California suburbs, far removed from environmentalism, but nature always has a way. She uprooted her life in 2015, moving to the countryside of Washington to live a more sustainable and simple life on 12 acres. She and her fiancee are learning on the job as they attempt everything from gardening and natural pest control to eco-friendly building and home improvement.