Historic Restoration Part 2

Hello again!  We continue our Historic Restoration review by covering pitfalls, challenges and rewards.

Preserving a part of our history can be extremely satisfying.  Here are some things to consider:

1. Pitfalls: The single largest pitfall to approaching an historic restoration project is establishing a sound budget.  Cost overruns can be quite significant if a solid strategy is not in place and the cost of historic renovations can be more expensive than new construction, depending on the scope of the project and the materials you would like to use. Go into this project with your eyes wide open and be sure that a qualified contractor can give you an accurate bid on what you are trying to achieve.

2. Challenges: substandard plumbing, heating, wiring, foundations, rotted wood, non-compliance with zoning, etc. must be considered.  Choosing an experienced architect with historic preservation expertise is advisable to help identify potential pitalls and work with your contractor to address these issues in advance.

3. Rewards:  Charming features, quirky layouts and the pride of owning a piece of our history are all of the reasons that make historic restorations worthwhile.

Tiefenthaler recently renovated the 1870 Jonathan Ward residence in Westport, CT. The kitchen in this residence was recently featured in East Coast Home + Design magazine. Click here, then scroll to page 40:




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Posted February 11, 2012 in Tiefenthaler Blog  >> Comment Now

Getting started with Historic Restorations

Hello All! It’s been a very busy summer building and renovating here in Fairfield County and we have not been keeping up with our blog!

As we begin to look at our new website analytic results, we see that many of you are interested in Historic Restorations, so here we go with our first in a series of Historic Restoration blogs!


#1: What is the historic value of the house- is it listed on the National Register of Historic homes? If so, there may be rules governing changes to the exterior of the home (shape of roof, material choices, allowable windows, paint colors, etc.).

#2: Is in located in the Historic district? If so, there are rules and codes that govern the alteration and restoration of these homes. You will need to find out about the rules and codes and may need to arrange a hearing to review your historically significant home. Typically, review committees will focus on the street side view of the home so as to preserve the historic character of the neighborhood and may not focus so much on the rear side or interior renovation of the home.

#3: Once you know the parameters, you should look for an architect- preferably one with Historic restoration experience. If your historic property is located in Fairfield County, CT or surrounding area, we will be happy to refer you to several qualified architects.


In Part 2, we will review pitfalls, challenges and rewards to Historic restorations- coming in October!

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Posted October 1, 2011 in Tiefenthaler Blog  >> Comment Now

Top Questions to ask a Builder

So, you’re considering a new home construction, renovation or addition and you’d like to know where to start when interviewing a prospective builder?  This summer, we will be blogging about the top questions you should ask a Builder and top questions you should ask an Architect and our reasons why they are important to know the answers to:


  1. How many years have you been in business? Determining how knowledgeable the builder is, how many different types and styles of homes has the firm built, how many references they should have at this point (from architects, designers and clients) and if it is possible to tour some of their recent projects can really help you decide if you have a potentially good fit with this builder.
  2. Do you work with architects or are you a design/build firm? Know up front if you are allowed to use the architect of your choosing (or if the builder can recommend a few to you based on your project description) or if you are interviewing a design/build firm that would do both the design and the building.
  3. What contract form do you use? Many builders and architects use standardized AIA  (American Institute of Architects) contracts but some builders use their own, in-house contract forms which should thoroughly be reviewed by you and your attorney.
  4. How are alterations to the contract (otherwise known as “change orders”) handled? Be careful that your builder does not do the work before you agree to the price and timeline of the proposed and be sure that you have signed copies of change orders and they are not just kept track of by the builder or by the home owner. Keeping written, consented change orders on file protects both the client and the builder.
  5. What is the down payment required? We caution you against builders that require more very large deposits based on the size of your project. One of the advantages of using an architect and a builder (not one in the same) is that you have a checks and balances system in place to protect you from potential budgetary problems later.

Coming next time….Top Questions to ask an Architect!

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Posted July 10, 2011 in Tiefenthaler Blog  >> Comment Now

Welcome to Teifenthaler Builder’s Blog

Welcome to the new Teifenthaler Builders’ blog! It is our hope that we will be able to help people in Fairfield County that are considering a new home construction, a home renovation or a home addition project to navigate the planning and building cycle with ease. We have 25 years of fine home building experience in Fairfield County, CT and have some great tips on how to make your building project a success!

Topics we plan ro cover include:

Top 10 questions to ask when interviewing an Architect

Top 10 questions to ask when interviewing a Builder

Top 10 mistakes people make in the home buildling/renovation process

What is retainage and how does it work?

Great Fairfield County home designs we love!

Local Fairfield County Architect interviews

We hope that you will share your input on what we cover in this blog as well as suggest topics that you would like to see covered. We look forward to your feedback!

Cate & Ross Tiefenthaler

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