Once upon a time, restoring this old house was a risky labor of love.

Once upon a time, restoring this old house was a risky labor of love. Only the heartiest of souls would dive into the money pit, knowing the dangers lurking in a century-old fixer-upper. From replacing entire electrical, heating, and cooling sytems to trying to match the details of a Victorian architectural feature, home restorations could—and still can--drain a wallet fast.

But new building technologies and materials have made historic home restorations more cost-effective in recent years. And there are more federal, state, and local tax incentives for restoring older residences with interesting pasts than ever before. With residential real estate prices at historic highs and the market showing no signs of sharp price drops, it might be time to give that dowager on the corner lot another look. A lower market price plus a little sweat equity could yield handsome returns down the road.

Kiplinger’s has searched the country for historic home makeovers under $500,000. We open our series with a look at recent renovations in the Northeast. Most of the restorations featured in our series were done by licensed contractors, a few by homeowners themselves. Some have won local and national awards. So grab your mouse, and click through our house tour of the some of the most beautifully and intelligently restored homes around: