The time-tested and stately farmhouses of Rockingham County, New Hampshire are a local treasure and a rich expression of American history and craftsmanship. These historical abodes, with their intricate woodwork, sprawling spaces, and classic features, unassumingly offer a harmonious blend of rustic allure and timeless beauty. But with age, they often require extra care and rejuvenation. As the modern homeowner looks to combine contemporary amenities with that nostalgic farmhouse charm, the challenge lies in maintaining the home's heritage while integrating today's comforts. Join Oxland Builders as we journey through the intricate process of renovating these old farmhouses to exalt their timeless virtues and reveal their ultimate potential.

Farmhouse style bedroom renovation in Rockingham County with wood beam ceilings

The Beauty & History of Rockingham County Farmhouses

Distinguished by their robust architectural features, Seacoast New Hampshire farmhouses often showcase elements like wide porches, tall windows, and gabled roofs. Such details highlight the functional aspects tailored to farm life and illustrate a distinct aesthetic that sets Rockingham County farmhouses apart. As you meander through areas like Portsmouth or Derry, it's common to find these historic homes with their unique farmhouse features surrounded by expansive green fields, underpinning the county's agricultural significance.

Whether it's the allure of hand-carved banisters, the mystique of hidden attic rooms, or the appeal of original hardwood floors, Rockingham County farmhouses capture a sense of nostalgia that few other architectural styles can. It's this blend of tradition and trend, authenticity and artistry, that truly makes the farmhouses of Rockingham County stand out in the realm of architectural wonders of the area.

Challenges in Renovating Older Farmhouses

Renovating these treasured relics can present a unique set of challenges. As area remodelers, we know this better than anyone. Here are some of the most common challenges we encounter when renovating a farmhouse in Seacoast, New Hampshire.

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Structural Surprises

Farmhouses, often having stood the test of time for over a century, come with their share of structural mysteries. Peeling back the layers can sometimes reveal unexpected finds. From previously undetected fires leaving charred beams behind to old construction methods that might seem alien today, it's almost like being an architectural detective. And while these discoveries can help us understand the home's story, they often mean adjustments to the renovation plan.

Wiring in Old Farmhouses

Knob and Tube Wiring

This was a standard form of electrical wiring used in homes from the late 1800s to the 1930s. It comprises porcelain knobs that support the wires and porcelain tubes to protect the wires as they pass through wooden structural elements. Over time, the rubber insulation can deteriorate, posing a fire hazard. Knob and tube wiring wasn't designed for today's electrical loads, making it inadequate for current needs. It lacks a grounding conductor, which can be a safety concern for certain appliances and fixtures.

Ungrounded Systems

Older electrical systems often lack grounding, which can lead to potential safety risks. Without grounding, there's an increased risk of electrical shock, especially when using modern appliances. Grounding provides a path for electrical surges, protecting both people and electronic devices.

Cloth-insulated Wiring

Prior to modern plastic insulation, wires were often insulated with cloth. Cloth insulation can deteriorate over time, exposing bare wires and increasing the risk of fires and short circuits.

Plumbing in Old Farmhouses

Galvanized Steel Pipes

Popular in homes built before the 1960s, these pipes were used for both water supply and drains. Galvanized pipes can corrode and rust from the inside out, leading to reduced water pressure, blocked water flow, and potential leaks. The rust can also discolor water.

Lead Pipes and Solder

Used in many older homes, lead pipes, or pipes with lead-based solder, were once a standard. Lead can leach into drinking water, posing severe health risks, especially to children as their brains develop. There are now federal regulations against using lead in plumbing due to these health concerns.

Cast Iron Drain Lines

Durable and robust, these were commonly used for main drain lines in older homes. Over time, cast iron drain lines can rust, break, or get clogged with buildup. Tree roots are often attracted to older sewer lines, leading to blockages and breaks.

Asbestos and Other Hazardous Materials

Homes built before the 1980s might contain asbestos, especially in insulating materials. When renovating, disturbing these materials can release asbestos fibers, posing health risks. Proper identification, handling, and disposal of these materials are paramount.

Preserving Historical Integrity

Oxland appreciates the responsibility to retain the home's original character. This might mean sourcing era-appropriate materials or custom reproducing features that have deteriorated over time. It's less of an obstacle and more of a welcome challenge. 

Custom curved staircase in second story of home

Heating and Insulation

Old farmhouses weren't built with today's insulation standards. Many were constructed with the idea of "breathing," which can make modern climate control a challenge. Renovators might find walls devoid of insulation and old windows that leak heat. Updating these to modern energy standards without compromising the home's look is a delicate but vital task. Consider modern windows replicating an old farmhouse look with mullions or other period-accurate embellishments.

Curious about the cost of a home renovation? We break it down here.

Modern Farmhouse Aesthetic: Transitioning from Traditional to Trendy

The modern farmhouse style marries the warmth and simplicity of the countryside with sleek contemporary touches. Here are our top tips to ensure a fantastic fusion of then and now.

Farmhouse-style bathroom remodel in New Hampshire with green walls and penny tile flooring

Include Key Elements of Modern Farmhouse Style

The modern farmhouse look is characterized by clean lines, a neutral color palette, and a harmonious blend of wood and metal finishes. Spaciousness is key, with open floor plans dominating the design. Exposed beams, shiplap walls, and reclaimed wood elements pay homage to the home’s origins, while stainless steel appliances, minimalist furniture, and updated lighting introduce modernity.

Incorporate Natural Elements

Central to the farmhouse aesthetic, both old and modern, is the use of natural materials. Whether it’s stone countertops, wooden flooring, or rustic farmhouse interior design touches, the intent is to maintain a connection with nature and the home's agrarian roots.

beamed ceiling kitchen island and white cabinets

Consider Function

The modern farmhouse isn't just about looks. Today’s designs prioritize functionality. This might manifest in the form of a spacious kitchen drink station, energy-efficient windows, or clever storage solutions hidden behind rustic facades.

Upgrade Amenities

Don’t skip any modern convenience because it isn’t period-authentic. Consider adding a spacious walk-in pantry, an under-counter kegerator for the adults, or a dedicated coffee bar station

Restore Key Original Features

Original fireplaces, built-in cabinets, or even clawfoot tubs can be lovingly restored to become the centerpiece of a room, adding a touch of history and authenticity. The beauty of design-build remodeling is highlighted in this delicate and individualized dance.white kitchen cabinets with undermount kitchen sink

Enhance Exterior Elements

Farmhouses often come with vast outdoor spaces. Consider modernizing the patio or porch with updated farmhouse furniture or adding a vegetable garden reminiscent of the property’s productive past.

Renovating an old farmhouse is more than just a remodeling project; it's about honoring its history, celebrating its architectural beauty, and ensuring its legacy continues for generations to come. At Oxland Builders, we are committed to breathing new life into these historic gems of Rockingham County. Interested in embarking on your farmhouse transformation? We’d love to meet you! Reach out to us today.

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