When embarking on a major renovation or remodel project, your contractor may need access to your home’s existing blueprints. For newer homes, this may be information that is fairly simple to get a hold of.
However, older homes lack a lot of the detailed specifications that modern technology has brought us. These are tricks that we like to use in order to get our hands on these useful roadmaps.
First things first, it is important to understand why older and historic homes need a bit more TLC when it comes to remodeling.
A great place to start would be to browse Preservation Brief 35. The brief states, “Whether as a homeowner making sympathetic repairs, a craftsman or contractor replacing damaged or missing features, or a conservator reconstituting wood or restoring decorative finishes, some type of investigative skill was used to recognize and solve an architectural question or explain a difficult aspect of the work itself.”
The blueprints to the home provide the original dimensions, specs, elevations, and drawings of where every door and window once were placed. To begin a project, you must first gain some background knowledge.
Depending on how recently your home was built and how seasoned your Real Estate agent is, many Realtors are familiar with local builders and developers. Even if they can not locate the exact plans for your home, they should be familiar enough with the housing style in your area which is a great place to start.
Keep in mind that blueprints may also be referred to as stock plans, catalog plans, mail-order plans, or pattern book houses.
Your neighbors may have been in this same predicament once before. More often than not, the houses surrounding yours were all built at the same time. Talk to your neighbors to see what they may know.
Often times, planned neighborhoods or gated communities all use different variations of the same stock plan.
It goes without saying that your town or city will be your best resource. The building inspector or assessor’s office will be your best friend in the hunt for your home’s blueprints.
These plans are submitted to these offices when contractors file their permits. These documents may not date very far back, but they can be useful for learning about modifications made to your house in the past 20 years or so.
While you’re there, it would not be a bad idea to ask for a copy of the fire insurance map for your area. These maps can reveal the original construction material used for your home.
Worst case scenario, you cannot find the original plans to your home. If that is the case, an architect or a structural engineer may be able to use field measurements and other clues to recreate the original plans.