What Should I Renovate First In My Old House?

When it comes to renovating an old house, prioritizing your projects is essential to ensure a smooth and cost-effective process. With countless options and potential areas that require attention, it can be overwhelming to determine where to begin. Whether it’s outdated plumbing, deteriorating roof, or worn-out flooring, identifying the most urgent renovation needs is crucial. This article aims to guide you in making informed decisions as you embark on the journey of renovating your old house, enabling you to prioritize the areas that will have the greatest impact on your home’s functionality, aesthetics, and overall value.

What Should I Renovate First In My Old House?

Structural Issues


When renovating an old house, addressing any potential foundation issues should be your top priority. A strong and stable foundation is essential for the overall integrity of your home. Start by inspecting the foundation for any cracks, uneven settling, or water damage. If there are minor cracks, you can fill them in with a high-quality sealant. However, if there are significant structural issues, such as large cracks or uneven settling, it is crucial to consult with a professional contractor or structural engineer. They can assess the extent of the damage and recommend the appropriate repairs or reinforcements needed to ensure the foundation’s stability.


Next on your renovation list should be the roof. A compromised or outdated roof can lead to leaks, water damage, and even structural problems. Begin by inspecting the roof for any missing or damaged shingles, signs of water penetration, or sagging areas. If the issues are minimal, you may be able to repair and replace individual shingles or sections of the roof. However, if the roof is old and showing significant signs of wear and tear, it may be more cost-effective to replace it entirely. A new roof will not only provide better protection but also enhance the aesthetic appeal and value of your home.


The walls of an old house can have various issues, including cracks, peeling paint, or outdated wallpaper. Start by examining the walls for any structural damage, such as major cracks or signs of water damage. If there are minor cracks, you can patch them up with joint compound and repaint the affected areas. However, if there are larger structural issues, it is crucial to consult with a professional to determine the best course of action. Additionally, consider updating the wall finishes by removing outdated wallpaper, repairing any damaged plaster, and giving the walls a fresh coat of paint. This will rejuvenate the overall look and feel of your home.



Updating the plumbing system in an old house is essential for ensuring functionality and preventing potential water damage. Start by inspecting the pipes for any signs of leaks, corrosion, or low water pressure. If you notice any issues with individual pipes, they can usually be replaced or repaired. However, if the entire plumbing system is outdated, it may be more cost-effective to replace it entirely. Upgrading to newer materials, such as copper or PEX piping, will not only improve the performance of your plumbing but also increase its longevity.


Old houses often have outdated and inefficient plumbing fixtures that can contribute to high water bills and poor functionality. Consider replacing old faucets, toilets, and showerheads with new, water-efficient models. Not only will this help conserve water and save you money, but it will also give your bathrooms and kitchen a fresh and modern look. Additionally, check for any leaks or drips in the fixtures and address them promptly to prevent water damage and wastage.

Electrical Systems


Older homes may have outdated electrical wiring that can pose a safety risk. Inspect the wiring system for any signs of fraying, damage, or inadequate capacity. If you notice any issues, consult with a licensed electrician to assess the extent of the problem and recommend the necessary upgrades. Upgrading the wiring system to meet current safety codes will not only reduce the risk of electrical fires but also provide you with a reliable and efficient electrical system.


In an old house, the number and placement of electrical outlets may not meet the demands of modern technology. Evaluate the location and condition of the existing outlets and consider adding more in areas where they are lacking, such as near workstations or entertainment centers. Additionally, upgrade to grounded outlets to ensure the safety of your electrical devices. Be sure to consult with a professional electrician to ensure all outlet installations meet the required electrical codes and safety standards.

Panel Box

The electrical panel box is the hub of your home’s electrical system, distributing electricity throughout the house. If your old house has a dated or insufficient panel box, it may not be able to handle the electrical demands of modern appliances and technology. Consider upgrading to a larger capacity panel box to accommodate your electrical needs. A professional electrician will be able to assess your electrical requirements and install a panel box that meets current safety standards.

What Should I Renovate First In My Old House?

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC)


In an old house, the furnace may be outdated, inefficient, or prone to breakdowns. Assess the condition of your furnace and consider upgrading to a more energy-efficient model. A newer furnace will not only provide better heating but can also help reduce your energy bills. Additionally, have your furnace professionally inspected and serviced to ensure it is in proper working condition.


Inspect the ductwork in your old house for any leaks, damaged insulation, or blockages. Poorly functioning ductwork can result in inconsistent heating and cooling throughout your home, leading to discomfort and energy waste. Seal any leaks using duct tape or specialized duct sealant and replace any damaged or insufficient insulation. Consider having a professional HVAC technician clean and inspect the entire ductwork system for optimal performance.

Air Conditioning

If your old house does not have air conditioning or if the existing unit is outdated, consider installing a new air conditioning system. A modern air conditioning system will provide you with consistent and efficient cooling during the hot summer months. Consult with an HVAC professional to determine the correct size and type of air conditioner that best suits your home’s needs.

Windows and Doors

Window Replacement

Old windows can be a significant source of energy loss, leading to higher heating and cooling costs. Inspect the windows in your old house for any cracks, rotting frames, or drafts. Consider replacing them with energy-efficient windows that provide better insulation. Double or triple-pane windows with low-emissivity (Low-E) coatings can significantly improve your home’s energy efficiency, reduce noise, and enhance the overall comfort of your living spaces.

Door Replacement

Old doors can also contribute to energy loss and compromise the security of your home. Inspect the doors for any gaps, rotting wood, or damaged frames. Consider replacing them with newer, more energy-efficient models. Installing a sturdy exterior door with proper weatherstripping will not only improve insulation but also enhance the security and curb appeal of your home. Additionally, consider installing storm doors for extra protection against the elements.


Attic Insulation

Insufficient or outdated attic insulation can result in significant energy loss and increased utility bills. Check the level and condition of the insulation in your attic. If it is below the recommended R-value for your region, consider adding more insulation. Blown-in cellulose or fiberglass batt insulation can be an effective and cost-efficient solution. Properly insulating your attic will reduce heat transfer, improve energy efficiency, and help maintain consistent indoor temperatures.

Wall Insulation

Older homes may lack proper insulation in the walls, leading to temperature fluctuations and reduced energy efficiency. While adding wall insulation is a more complex and invasive process than attic insulation, it can greatly improve your home’s comfort and energy performance. Consult with a professional insulation contractor to determine the best method for insulating your walls, whether it’s through injection foam, blown-in insulation, or exterior cladding.

Floor Insulation

If your old house has a crawlspace or a basement, consider insulating the floors above these areas. Proper floor insulation will help minimize heat loss, reduce drafts, and optimize energy efficiency. Insulate the floors using batt insulation or rigid foam boards, ensuring a proper vapor barrier. Consult with an insulation professional to determine the most suitable insulation materials and installation techniques for your specific flooring structure.



A kitchen renovation can significantly enhance the functionality and aesthetic appeal of your old house. Start by assessing the condition of your countertops. If they are outdated, damaged, or made of a material that is difficult to clean or maintain, consider replacing them with new countertops. Popular options include granite, quartz, marble, or laminate, depending on your budget and preferences. Upgrading your countertops will not only provide a fresh and modern look but also improve the durability and functionality of your kitchen workspace.


Evaluate the condition of your kitchen cabinets. If they are worn, outdated, or no longer meet your storage needs, it may be time for a cabinet replacement. Consider installing new cabinets that offer improved storage options, such as pull-out shelves or built-in organizers. Choose a design and finish that complements the overall style of your kitchen and enhances its functionality. Additionally, upgrading to soft-close hinges and high-quality drawer slides will provide a more premium feel and enhance the longevity of your cabinets.


Old kitchen appliances can be inefficient, unreliable, and consume excessive energy. Evaluate the condition and performance of your refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, and other kitchen appliances. If they are outdated or frequently breaking down, it may be time to invest in new, energy-efficient models. Modern appliances not only offer improved functionality but can also significantly reduce your energy consumption and utility bills. Look for Energy Star certified appliances, which meet strict criteria for energy efficiency.



Outdated or worn bathroom fixtures can detract from the overall appeal and functionality of your old house. Evaluate the condition of your sinks, faucets, toilets, and showerheads. Consider replacing them with more modern and water-efficient fixtures. Opt for WaterSense labeled products, which have been certified to save water without sacrificing performance. Upgrading your bathroom fixtures will not only enhance the aesthetics but also contribute to water conservation and efficiency.


Inspect the tiles in your bathroom for any cracks, chipped edges, or outdated designs. Consider replacing them with newer, more visually appealing tiles. Choose materials that are suitable for wet areas, such as ceramic or porcelain tiles. Pay attention to the color, pattern, and texture of the tiles to create a cohesive and inviting bathroom space. Properly installed and well-maintained tiles will not only improve the aesthetics of your bathroom but also enhance its durability and ease of cleaning.


Assess the condition of your shower and bathtub. If they are outdated, damaged, or no longer meet your functionality needs, consider replacing them. Upgrading to a new shower or bathtub can provide a luxurious and refreshing bathing experience. Choose between various options such as walk-in showers, soaking tubs, or whirlpool tubs, depending on your preferences and available space. Additionally, ensure that the plumbing fixtures, such as showerheads and faucets, are properly installed and functioning optimally.



Old houses may have hidden hardwood floors that can be restored to their former glory. Inspect the condition of your hardwood floors for any signs of damage, scratches, or wear. If the hardwood is salvageable, consider refinishing them to bring back their natural beauty. This process involves sanding down the old finish, repairing any damaged areas, and applying new stain and protective coating. Refinished hardwood floors will add warmth, elegance, and value to your home.


Evaluate the condition of the carpet in your old house. If it is worn, stained, or smells unpleasant, it may be time for a replacement. Consider installing new carpeting that is more durable, stain-resistant, and easier to maintain. Choose a color and material that suit your style and the specific requirements of each room. Installing high-quality carpet can provide a comfortable and cozy feel to your living spaces while improving sound insulation.


Assess the condition of any existing tile flooring in your old house. If the tiles are cracked, chipped, or outdated, consider replacing them. Choose a new tile material, style, and color that aligns with your design preferences and the specific requirements of each room. Ceramic, porcelain, or natural stone tiles can add sophistication and durability to your home. Properly installed and well-maintained tile flooring will not only enhance the aesthetic appeal but also provide a robust and easy-to-clean surface.



Inspect the exterior siding of your old house for any signs of damage, rotting wood, or pests. Consider replacing or repairing any damaged siding to protect your home from further deterioration and potential water damage. Upgrading your siding can also enhance the curb appeal and value of your property. Consider materials such as vinyl, fiber cement, or wood that offer durability, low maintenance, and aesthetic versatility.


If your old house has an outdoor deck or patio, evaluate its condition and functionality. Check for any rotting, loose boards, or structural issues. Repair or replace damaged sections as needed to ensure safety and longevity. Additionally, consider upgrading the outdoor space by adding new features such as pergolas, lighting, or seating areas. An inviting deck or patio will provide a pleasant outdoor living space and enhance the overall enjoyment of your home.


Enhancing the landscaping around your old house can significantly improve its curb appeal and create a welcoming environment. Evaluate the existing landscaping for any overgrown or unhealthy plants, weeds, or bare spots. Trim bushes, trees, and shrubs, and remove any dead or unsightly vegetation. Consider adding new plants, flowers, or a well-maintained lawn to give your home a fresh and vibrant look. Proper landscaping will not only boost your home’s appearance but also increase its market value.

By following this comprehensive guide and prioritizing the different aspects of your old house renovation, you can create a home that is not only aesthetically pleasing but also functional, efficient, and safe. Remember to consult with professionals when necessary and budget accordingly to ensure a successful renovation process. With proper planning and execution, your renovated old house will become a beautiful and comfortable space that reflects your personal style and meets your needs for many years to come.