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The abandoned dumbwaiter shaft

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Unless they have been completely renovated, old houses are usually equipped with some sort of abandoned technology. It could be outdated mechanical or electrical services, drafty windows and doors, or even the configuration of space. The key to successfully remodeling an older home starts by determining what needs to be repaired and what needs to be replaced. It's not about removing all traces of the past and starting over, it's about coexisting with an old structure through the compromise of selective updating.

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Owning a home is like having a relationship. In a marriage, people change as they grow old together. The thing that will make this relationship successful is learning to adapt as the relationship changes throughout the course of the aging cycle. The same can be said about remodeling an old home. Learning to recognize what needs to be changed and what needs to be preserved is how the success of the process will be defined. There's really no point to remodeling an old home if you remove all the character of it's age. If you're that desperate to have something new, by all means, divorce your house and buy something new. Just remember, starting a second marriage (or moving to another house) isn't necessarily going to make a person's life better, just different.

In this slide show edition we look at a house project that involved an old dumbwaiter. The crude elevator, which no doubt was used at one time to bring fuel from the basement level to the fireplaces on the upper two living levels, had not been used for years. Rather than boarding it up and forgetting about it, the shaft was transformed into valuable hidden space that will serve the occupants for years to come. It cannot be overstated, recognizing what to remodel is how you achieve success. Therefore, when developing a construction plan for your remodel project, itemize things that need to be restored, updated and replaced.

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