I’m often amazed at how often we are enthusiastic about tearing down a 1950’s home in favor of a more current style. Certainly if there is sufficient development pressure there is little anyone can do. However, for a current homeowner or prospective buyer I think we may be shortsighted in our vision for a new home by not considering the possibilities.
The post war boom in housing produced millions of these homes throughout the country. Significant inventory of these homes exist and thrive today in communities such as Ladue, Olivette, Town & Country, Frontenac, Clayton, and Kirkwood to name just a few in St. Louis County.
Considering The Possibilities
- Go Green: If a home is in sufficient repairable state, then we are doing the environment and our communities at large a favor by preserving that which took a significant amount of energy and material to build in the first place. In other words this is a sustainable or “green” thing to do. A recent study indicated that a 30% increase in energy efficiency will essentially remain a plus for the environment more than a newly constructed home of similar efficiencies.
- Give It A Facelift: Many of those ranch homes are easy to renovate compared to homes built early in the century. It often is relatively simple to remove walls and rearrange spaces for a more current life style. The styling of many of these ranch homes is bland if not boring. It can be either a simple and economical face lift or a more ambitious renovation generating a different style suited to the Owner’s taste. In the hands of a skilled Architect, changing the look can often salvage and upgrade a home to a current style and preserve and increase the property value. This also contributes to the neighborhood and community fabric.
- Add A Second Floor: Many of these homes are built sufficiently strong that they can support a second floor, without a great deal of reinforcing to the existing home. Of course these considerations need to be analyzed by an Architect or Structural Engineer.
- Upgrades To Save Energy: Often these homes were built simple enough that in the course of renovation, upgrading windows and doors will increase value, styling and energy efficiency. Adding insulation and other weatherization factors is relatively a simple process. There are companies available that provide, for reasonable fees, an energy analysis which will indicate a dollars and cents view of the potential costs and energy savings over a period of time.
- Aging In Place: There’s little doubt that we have an enormous aging population many of which prefer to stay in a home for the remainder of their years. Living on 1 floor certainly is an advantage in terms of mobility, and these ranch homes suit this situation appropriately. Upgrading kitchens, bathrooms and access issues are in order here.
Shown here are 2 versions of divergent styles as upgrade possibilities for the façade of an existing ranch in Olivette.
Purchasing and Renovating
In this current economic climate it seems prudent to consider purchasing and renovating a ranch. Consultation with an Architect, Engineer and/or a renovation specialist contractor is economical and a smart investment in analyzing the possibilities. Lastly, soliciting input from your real estate agent in regards to the effect of improvements on the value of your project is a smart thing to do.
Below is a before and after picture of a 50’s ranch addition we built for a client in Olivette.
Alan J.Berkowitz, AIA
Alan is an Architect who has specialized in renovations, additions, facelifts, historic restoration work and new
homes for more than 28 years along with a career in industrial product design. He graduated with degrees
in Architecture and Engineering from the University of Kansas. He and his family have lived in a 50’s ranch
that is a work in progress. berkowitzdesign.com