Everyone loves the idea of buying an old place and fixing it up, particularly somewhere historic – and the potential for a enviable and successful business such as a hotel, bed and breakfast, movie theater, or old-time restaurant exists! People love history and culture, and they love to go to anywhere with a theme – whether it be the Victorian era, the happy 1950s, or even the 1980s – history is a natural interest of most people. Historical buildings are especially intriguing – who lived there? What did they do? Were they anyone famous? You should absolutely be excited about buying historical property, but you need to know a few things before you dive in.

Three Things To Consider When Renovating Commercial Property

  • The law
  • What actually happened there
  • The state of the building

First, it’s important to know many historical properties are protected by law. You can find this out by going to the courthouse and speaking to the clerks about the property you’re interested in. Protected properties can usually be bought and sold (unless they are federal or state property) but there may be very specific laws about what you can do with the property – such as, you cannot tear it down, only return it to what it once was (a hotel, or a saloon, etc.) You may need to hire an attorney to help you in the short term while you interpret the laws.
Secondly, you might want to research exactly what happened in history at the property you are purchasing. Most old buildings have a lot of stories to tell – that’s part of the intrigue! Some of the stories are extremely interesting – maybe natives inhabited the area, or the first European settlers settled there. Beware though, while most people are interested in war history, personal and gruesome murder history may keep people away (unless it is being advertised as a local haunt). The choice is yours, but it is wise to know exactly what has gone down on very historic property – because you can bet your guests will investigate.
Last but not least, consider the actual state of the building. Many things can be replaced and modernized such as plumbing and electricty (although it may be very expensive). If a building is actually crumbling and the foundation isn’t stable, however, no matter how historic it is, you may not be able to afford to renovate it. This would be the time to hire a contractor who works in historic renovation to give you an honest appraisal (and a second opinion wouldn’t hurt, either). It requires a lot of intellect and some courage to purchase historic property, and equally as much to know when something is beyond your scope.
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