Boise’s North End is a lovely place to call home, but renovations are trickier propositions than other areas of town.
Historic districts require more diligence and more precise, restricted planning to keep the flavor and history of your neighborhood and your original house.
The hoops you have to jump through are easier to manage if you can find a company who has jumped through those hoops before.
One of those companies is Trent Howie’s Harrison Renovation Company. His company worked on the home of Bill and Jeannine Ryan, one of the houses on this year’s Preservation Idaho Heritage Home Tour.
He works specifically in the North End and specializes in period-correct replications.
Howie got into this business partly due to his love of Craftsman-style homes, which were popular for about three decades early in the 1900s.
“I fell in love with the style of house, and we bought one,” he said. “From there on out we mostly just studied the history of the Craftsman and who some of the architects were. We just loved the detail of how the Craftsmans were put together and built and the way they show the joinery and don’t necessarily hide the structural members of how things are put together.”
Howie recently finished a brand new 4,000-square-foot Craftsman home on the east side of the North End.
“It was built to fit the neighborhood so you couldn’t really tell if it was built a hundred years ago or today,” he said.
Harrison Renovation Co. can handle about one and a half homes a year, and the company is working on one right now on Harrison Boulevard.
Thinking of buying or renovating a historic home? Howie has some advice:
He suggests finding a Realtor who is well versed in North End homes. Howie and his wife, Anne, (who also happens to be one of those Realtors) will sometimes buy a North End home, fix it up and sell it as a period-correct spec home.
Anne enjoys the work because it’s fun yet challenging. You have to be creative but still stay within the parameters of the historical guidelines.
“That’s why it’s a challenge,” she said.
So, understand going in, that there will be construction and material restrictions, find a Realtor who understands those nuances and realities, and then find an architect and a builder who also understand those challenges. If you listen to those who have moved into historical districts, they will tell you it will likely be more expensive than you think it will, it will be more arduous than sometimes makes sense but, in the end, you will have a very, very pleasant place to call home.
Dusty Parnell is a freelance print, radio and print journalist who has been working in the Treasure Valley for more than 25 years.