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Restoring Your Historic House: The Comprehensive Guide for Homeowners Hardcover – December 10, 2019

4.8 4.8 out of 5 stars 365 ratings

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Hardcover, December 10, 2019

The Amazon Book Review
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From the Publisher








Scott Hanson is a historic-building preservation professional and has 40 years’ experience rehabilitating historic houses.

He has illustrated this authoritative book with hundreds of step-by-step photos, illustrations, charts, and decision-making guides. Interspersed throughout are photo essays of 13 restored historic houses representing a range of periods and architectural styles: Italianate, Victorian, Queen Anne, Federal, Colonial, Colonial Revival, Greek Revival, Ranch, Adobe, Craftsman, Shingle, and Rustic.

With interior and exterior photography by David Clough, these multi-page features show what can be achieved when a historic home is renovated with a desire to preserve or restore as much historic character as possible.




PART ONE: Project Planning

Chapter 1: Finding the Right Historic House

Chapter 2: Character defining Features of a Historic House

Chapter 3: Project Design

Chapter 4: Do-It-Yourself ?

Chapter 5: Bureaucrats You'll Meet

PART TWO: Under the Surface

Chapter 6: The Demolition Phase

Chapter 7: Structural Concerns


Chapter 8: Heating & Cooling

Chapter 9: Insulation & Ventilation

Chapter 10: Plumbing & Electrical




PART FOUR: The Exterior Envelope

Chapter 11: Roofs

Chapter 12: Exterior Walls

Chapter 13: Exterior Trim & Windows

PART FIVE: Interior FInishes

Chapter 14: Floors

Chapter 15: Interior Walls

Chapter 16: Ceilings

Chapter 17: Interior Trim

Chapter 18: Interior Paint & paper

PART SIX: Tools & Resources

Chapter 19: Tools

Chapter 20: Resources

Editorial Reviews


"“Comprehensive” is the operative word for this weighty 712-page volume, as its content spans homes from the early 17th century to the mid-20th century, and covers the technology and trades from the base of the foundation to the peak of the roof. In the introduction, the author notes that unlike other books on home renovations, this book prioritizes the identification and preservation of character-defining features. Its purpose: “To describe and illustrate a best-practices approach for updating historic homes for modern life in ways that do not turn old houses into new ones.”...Not only is the content thorough, but the book is well-produced, packed with hundreds of instructive color photos on its 9.25x10.25 matte-coated pages. This book will reward any historic house homeowner, tradesperson, advocate, or enthusiast with the theoretical and practical insights of a pro."
Newburyport Preservation Trust Quarterly News

"Saving such character-defining features as windows and rooflines, mouldings and woodwork should be a given, even as we renovate for energy efficiency, comfort and modern life. This book
(Restoring Your Historic House) is part Vintage Houses by Hewitt and Block, part McAlester's Field Guide, and several parts early Old-House Journal, with a credible amount of true grit in the mix. A lot of information goes into 712 pages!"
Old-House Journal

Book Description

How to accommodate contemporary life in a historic house

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Down East Books; Illustrated edition (December 10, 2019)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 720 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0884484904
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0884484905
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 5.36 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 9.38 x 1.66 x 10.04 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.8 4.8 out of 5 stars 365 ratings

About the author

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Award-winning author, Scott T. Hanson is an architectural historian and preservation consultant who lives with his husband Andrew and four Maine Coon cats in Whitten House, a 19th century home in the mid-coast region of Maine. He grew up in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and attended Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY, before settling on the Maine coast.

His most recent book, "Restoring Your Historic House, The Comprehensive Guide for Homeowners," was released by Tilbury House Publishers in December 2019 and won the 2020 "Excellence in Publishing" Award from the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. This 720-page volume took four years to write. It contains more than 2,000 photos and illustrations. Drawing on 40 years' experience in the historic preservation field, Hanson has written the restoration book he waited decades for someone else to write. "It finally occurred to me that I was qualified and no one else was doing it, so I did it" he said. The author and noted architectural photographer David Clough have traveled across the U.S. to photograph 13 beautifully restored houses and interview their owners. These featured houses appear between the how-to chapters.

His previous book was "Down East Homes, Classic Maine Coastal Cottages and Town Houses," co-written with Maine State Historian, Earle G. Shettleworth, Jr. and Christopher Glass with photographs by David Clough. It was published by Tilbury House in 2014. This book looks at 52 historic Maine homes that were published in Scientific American architectural magazines between 1885 and 1905. Historic photos and plans are shown along with contemporary photos of 38 houses. Each house has an architectural history essay by Shettleworth or Hanson and an architect's commentary by Glass.

Hanson also wrote "Cleaning Antique Staffordshire Transferware," available in print and digital formats. Using documentary research into probate inventories of members of the original owners of his house, and shards of historic transferware found under and around the house in the course of restoration, he was able to identify the exact patterns that were in the house during the time two generations of the Whitten family called it home. Searching in shops, flea markets, auctions, and online, he has slowly found pieces of the patterns the Whitten family owned and assembled a collection reflecting their time in the house. After a decade of collecting, he has brought back to the house many items matching those owned by the Whittens in the 19th century. As part of that process, he developed an effective and affordable method for cleaning transferware, which he shares in the book. In 2017, he was elected President of the international Transferware Collector's Club.

He is the co-author of "The Architecture of Cushing's Island," written with Maine State Historian, Earle G. Shettleworth, and published in 2012. He has appeared, along with Whitten House, on the television program "If Walls Could Talk" on HGTV.

Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5
365 global ratings

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5.0 out of 5 stars A "MUST READ" for everyone who is restoring a historic home!
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on August 2, 2020
I cannot say enough great things about this book! Well written, beautiful photos but the best part is the information - straight forward, realistic and brimming with great ideas on restoring your historic home while maintaining character. We are 2 years in to the restoration of our 1880 Folk Victorian home and while we've learned a lot on our own this book has given us so many more ideas and reminded us that we can make the most of our home, modernize it and still maintain its historic integrity. Currently working on a bathroom reno and have already made some changes to preserve its history. A big thank you to the author for taking the time to put this book together. I can't wait to share it with my local historic preservation group.
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Top reviews from other countries

steven ward
5.0 out of 5 stars American focused but very valuable if you own and old house
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on March 7, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars Review
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on December 11, 2020
Chris Estabrooks
5.0 out of 5 stars Lots of info
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on December 25, 2020
joshua marois
5.0 out of 5 stars PERFECT
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on January 11, 2020
Jacob Neufeld
5.0 out of 5 stars 👍👍
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on August 22, 2020