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Are You Obligated to History When Renovating?

Imagine you’re going to buy a house, or have just bought a house: Do you think you’ll feel obligated to preserve or restore the original design and look of the property?</br></br>It’s an interesting question that likely pertains more to those who inherit homes or manage family property, but it’s still an important point to consider. Obviously, if you hold the title you can do whatever you like with a home – that’s why you paid for it!</br></br>But, will prevailing regional trends, the house’s design and history, and your own emotional ties to the past weigh on your decisions as to how you’re going to renovate?</br></br><strong>Austrian Castle Owners Say “Yes”</strong></br></br>A beautiful write-up in Elle Décor touches on the question in its <a title="Elle Decor" href="http://www.elledecor.com/design-decorate/interior-designers/a7243/historic-castle-in-italy/?src=TrueAnth_ELLEDECOR_TW&amp;utm_campaign=trueanthem&amp;utm_content=55535a5604d30158a9000001&amp;utm_medium=trueanthem&amp;utm_source=twitter" target="_blank">profile of Churburg Castle</a> in Schluderns, Italy, where the Trapp family of Innsbruck, Austria, enjoys their ancestral home during the summer months.</br></br>(Yes, that's their actual home pictured above. Well, technically ... their <em>summer</em> home. Ahem.)</br></br>Of course, the Trapps are the caretakers of a family legacy 800 years in the making and so they are more inclined to feel strong ties the castle’s history, but even they remain flexible on some things. For example, they speak of the modern pool an aunt had installed in the 1960s and the coverlets by Ralph Lauren in one of the bedrooms.</br></br>And yeah, it’s a <em>castle</em>, so there is that. The place even gets its fair share of tourists every year. But, it’s easy to imagine some heartless baron getting his grubby hands on it and turning it into a water park, because awful things like that happen all the time.</br></br>That fact, though, begs the question: Do we have a responsibility to the property we buy, even if it’s not a beautiful 13th century castle nestled in the Italian countryside?</br></br><strong>New England Renovators Say “Yes”  </strong></br></br>In this feature, <a title="Dwell" href="http://www.dwell.com/renovation/article/5-renovations-new-england#1" target="_blank">Dwell highlights five New England renovators</a> who felt compelled to preserve and/or utilize original features into their designs out of an appreciation for the cultural and regional aesthetic. The in-depth look in the links reveals motivations that are deeply embedded in the homes’ former glory.</br></br>It also raises the topic of forced obligation in one of the renovations featured, which is another important consideration. Restrictions – or <em>encumbrances</em>, as they may be described by your lawyer – are something you may encounter in the home-buying process, and sometimes they may include radical demands.</br></br>Examples include homes that are on historical registries, have environmental mandates or are sold with an agreed-upon encumbrance placed on the deed – sometimes called <em>restrictive</em> <em>covenants</em> in legal speak.</br></br><strong>Not All People Say “Yes”</strong></br></br>Homebuyers should be aware of these issues and ready to confront them. There is no right or wrong answer to whether a person feels compelled to honor a home’s history – the important part is to ensure that you’re not forced to do so by law unless it’s something you want.</br></br>It’s your realtor’s job to make sure you’re clear of any unwanted encumbrances, and if you need to talk to one you can find local real estate professionals at Porch.com. Otherwise, you may end up spending your future dwelling on the past, and not in that warm, nostalgic way.
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