Published at Sunday, April 07th, 2019 - 15:53:23 PM. Home Decoration. By Augustine Fischer.
Spindler is active in local preservationist and historic groups. But perhaps the most important connection she can make is with a capable contractor. While the exteriors of many San Francisco Victorians are protected by historic preservation ordinances, the interiors are generally not. Electricians and plumbers often suggest that the only way to update a Victorian is to tear out original walls. But Spindler knows it can be less expensive to drop pipes and other infrastructure straight through the homes balloon framing or to wire electrical lines through an attic than to tear out valuable, original plaster work. “The crazy things that people do to these poor old houses. The walls never look the same,” Spindler laments. She compares the work of contractors who skillfully retain old Victorian walls to that of arthroscopic surgeons, who use fiber optic technology and video cameras to avoid open surgery: “Its better for the patient in the long run.” While Spindler is glad to see more young people interested in historic homes, she acknowledges her niche is limited by the number of Victorians in her market, estimated to be around 7,500 single-family homes. “Its not a lot, and we lose more every year,” she says. “Theyre not making any more of them, obviously.”
While Victorian-style homes (generally any house built during the reign of Queen Victoria, between 1837 and 1901) are equated more with romance than practicality, Spindler says they confer several structural advantages. Their old-growth redwood is less vulnerable to pests and earthquakes than newer homes framing. But there are also drawbacks. Victorians were almost always built without electrical service, so sometimes original gas pipes havent been turned off or may have residual gas in their lines after theyve been capped. This can be an issue for workers who might be cutting into old lines. And while many love the feeling of 11-foot ceilings, itll take more steps to get to the next floor, and painting and changing lightbulbs can be more involved. But (especially since many of the architectural plans for these homes were destroyed in the San Francisco earthquake of 1906) being aware and offering insights to clients about such positives and negatives are just part of the job of a style specialist, and Spindler embraces her role as adviser. “None of them come with manuals,” Spindler says. “Its an exploratory process.”
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