Building & Renovating

6 Tips for Restoring Old Houses

Learn how you can preserve a piece of your family's history with this list of must-dos

Photography: Miguel Nacianceno (Main Photo)

Do you still live in your family's ancestral house? If not, do you still visit it regularly? There are homeowners who choose to update the look of an old home with modern pieces and new structural details. However, it's best to keep in mind that restoring Filipino ancestral homes can be a bit tricky. 

Architect Rene Luis "Jojo" Mata, member of the Heritage Conservation Society shares these tips that can help you restore an old abode to its former glory.

Know the legal status of the house

Determine the legal owner of the house and if there are people who have a stake in it. Make sure you research on its history as well. These items should be clear before you start making any changes.

Check the condition of the roof and the foundation

Consult an engineer or architect to see if the foundation is still stable or it it needs reinforcement. The condition of the room is of utmost importance, too! Make sure it's still in good condition to prevent problems—especially during the rainy season.

See if the structure is compatible with its proposed use

To preserve the integrity of the house, there should be minimal disturbance of its original fabric.

List down the changes that you need to make

Do you need extra rooms like another toilet or bedroom? Are you planning to build a modern kitchen? It's always better to build around the original and existing structure.

Check if the new materials are compatible with the old materials

Materials used a decade ago vary from the ones available in the market today. Always opt for original materials and always double check the structure. For example, if you're planning to use steel trusses, you need to make sure that the existing structure can carry the additional load.

Maintenance is key

If the old house is still in good condition, regular maintenance can keep it in tip-top shape. Always schedule the cleaning and maintenance of your property—for example, a yearly maintenance of the gutters and roofing will keep moisture from rotting the wood in the house.

RL Tip: Get involved! Most old houses are located in inner-city neighborhoods. If your house is located in an area where there are other old and restored homes, reach out to them and see what you can do. You may opt to have better street lighting for one. 

Love the photos? Click here to see more photos and view the complete home tour.

This snippet originally appeared in the February 2014 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App. Log on to for more details.

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