Wood Siding And Vintage Homes in NELA – What’s Advisable?

The charm and character of the old housing stock in Northeast Los Angeles (NELA), has attracted thousands upon thousands of buyers. You will see why when you look at the Spanish Revival homes available in Highland Park and the charming Craftsman homes in Pasadena. These homes are homes with history and resilience. How many fires floods and earthquakes has the house survived over the past 100+ year?

Another word for “vintage,” however, is “old,” which often refers to parts of structures that have suffered from decay. Most buyers don’t care. You can find homes for sale in Glassell Park Eagle Rock, or Mt. Washington: You should budget for restoration costs if your home is a fixer-upper. The Craftsman that you are interested in in Hermon? It is priced at $525,000 as it will require at least $100,000 of work to make it more like the house down the street that was listed for $700,000.

It’s possible to make mistakes when renovating, updating, or restoring a home. The most noticeable thing from a curbside view is when the original wood siding has been replaced with vinyl or aluminum. Preservation-minded organizations and individuals – who have a lot of responsibility for all that property-value growth – are very clear about their opinion on vinyl. They don’t like the material. The Highland Park-Garvanza HPOZ, which includes some of NELA’s neighborhoods, explicitly states that vinyl should not be used at all from the street-facing side of the homes. However, some allowances can be made for the back and side of the homes for residents with lower incomes who are renovating.

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Vinyl is now prohibited. What is so wrong with vinyl? What are the options for homebuyers?

  • Repair, preserve, and replace wood siding. It is cheaper than replacing vinyl siding or any other type of replacement.
  • Consider cement-fiberboard (“Hardie Board”), but it isn’t approved by most HPOZs as it differs from the original (it was not invented until the mid-1980s). It can be used in some neighborhoods, though it is not permitted by HPOZs. The U.S. EPA has produced a guide titled “Sustainable Solutions for Historic Homes Northern California”, which recommends preservation of existing siding, but suggests that cement-fiberboard made from flyash (reclaimed industrial byproduct), can be a sustainable choice.

All types of replacement siding can have the window casements cut to a different depth, which can lead to a loss of the original character. It is strongly discouraged to layer new siding on top of the original material.

Are you unsure if a vintage house is right for your needs? Or are you interested in preserving a little of NELA’s past? Tracy King, a Realtor, is well-versed in all aspects of homes and would be happy to discuss your plans and interests.

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