Lower Old House Stress: Tips at the Old House and Barn Expo

Are you excited about spring but stressed about old house projects?

Whether you're a new owner of a historic house or long-time do-it-yourselfer, you can probably use some advice and encouragement from the N.H. Preservation Alliance's Old House and Barn Expo to help you see past the long to-do repair list and embrace the positive features of the old place.  

Take a deep breath and appreciate what you've got

Old houses were designed frequently with climate and good living in mind.  Does southern exposure make certain rooms extra cozy? Does the floor plan offer separation of space for privacy? Does a porch offer a wonderful extra room? Does an attic or ell offer storage space?  Can you close doors to heat less of the house? Remember old wood windows, moulding and doors are repairable.

Gather information and inspiration

Bring your questions to the Preservation Alliance's Old House and Barn Expo on March 24-25. Visit with experts and enjoy lectures and demonstrations. Gather information on how to get started, big projects or small.  Sign up for a session with an Old House Doctor. Ask a preservation contractors to perform a "walk-though" visit  to help you better understand the history and evolution of your building and determine priorities for your time and money.

Gain perspective on what you've done or need to do

Keep a journal of your progress. Documenting what you've done is good preservation practice. Record the building's condition, highlight features and keep track of treatments. Record paint colors and materials used. Reviewing the journal can offer a boost when you see all that you've accomplished. 

Recognize your interests and limits

Ask a neighbor for help or hire a handyman if storm window installation seems too onerous. Maybe you now have patience for a painting project that seemed impossible a decade ago? Phase work to align with time and budget considerations. 

Use new technology to help manage repair and restoration projects as well as everyday living

You can record measurements or test colors using your own photos and free or low-cost apps.  Programmable thermostats and home management systems with remote features can lower energy costs and stress.

Consider adopting a barn cat

The Pope Memorial SPCA of Concord-Merrimack County will be at the Old House and Barn Expo to inform attendees about barn cat adoption and care.  Preservation Alliance members who are barn cat owners report that their daily routine of barn cat care helps them keep track of barn maintenance issues. The cats also help control rodent population, and are just fun to have around too!

Laugh and keep perspective

Compare preservation and repair "war" stories at the Old House and Barn Expo and with friends over a beer.  Working on a barn project? Join the 52 Barns in 52 Weeks panel discussion at the Expo on March 25 to gain inspiration and gather helpful ideas. Watch a movie like The Money Pit or Mr. Blanding's Dream House, or visit a large historic site to make your challenges seem small.

Send your ideas to projects@nhpreservation.org

Get practical advice on painting, and any other project -- big or small -- at the Expo.

Get practical advice on painting, and any other project -- big or small -- at the Expo.