Low interest loan program helps residents restore old homes

Elaine Price's new space-saving closet lift frees up valuable storage space in her old home. Photo by Jamie Bertram.

Elaine Price bought a 1920s Cleveland Heights double in 1993 which provided her with a home, a spare rental unit, and a lengthy "to-do" list. So last fall, she took advantage of the Cleveland Restoration Society’s Heritage Home Program and tackled several maintenance and repair issues commonplace in older homes. While she called in contractors for more specialized jobs, Elaine and her partner George also undertook many of the projects themselves.

The Heritage Home Program, which is made available to Cleveland Heights residents by the City of Cleveland Heights and Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis, provides a 3.5 percent APR, seven to 10 year loan for home repair and restoration projects. To be eligible for the loan, a house must have been built prior to 1960 and retain character-defining elements such as the original exterior cladding and wood or steel windows.

Price used the program to fund plumbing and electrical updates, repairs to her gas line, and the installation of a space-saving closet lift system which required vaulting the ceiling for additional height. The new ceiling exposes original, unpainted beams. She also refinished the hardwood floors, stripped the original copper-plated steel door hinges and knobs to reveal their natural patina, restored her historic wood windows, installed updated lighting fixtures and opened up some knee-walls for additional space on her third floor.

Price also used the program to make some ‘green’ renovations, including converting the heating system from radiators to a heat pump and high efficiency air handler. She used Sherwin Williams’ zero-VOC Harmony interior paints throughout and installed insulation on the second and third floors for increased energy efficiency.

Price’s home improvement project is typical of the issues owners of historic homes encounter. The Cleveland Restoration Society's Heritage Home Program can provide technical assistance and financing to enable homeowners to tackle these upgrades and repairs.

To find out if your home is eligible for the program or to take advantage of the society's free technical assistance, call 216-426-3106, or visit www.clevelandrestoration.org.

Jamie Bertram isa historic preservation specialist with the Cleveland Restoration Society.

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Volume 2, Issue 4, Posted 11:26 AM, 03.16.2009