Period homes have a lot of charm, particularly Victorian and Edwardian properties.
Original features like stained glass, plaster moulding, and hardwood floors add personality and style, which is very important in today’s social media-dominated world.
High ceilings and large, spacious rooms are also a selling point when you consider how small the average new-build home is these days.
A fully renovated period home is likely to come with a large price tag since someone else has gone to the time and trouble of doing the hard work.
If you want to save money and create a home you love, it’s more fun – and cheaper – to tackle the renovation yourself (with professional assistance where needed). Read on for a useful guide to getting started.
Make Sure the Building is Structurally Sound
Always have a building survey done if you plan to buy a period home in need of renovation. Many problems might not be obvious to an untrained eye, such as subsidence, dry rot, and a roof that is hanging on with a whisper and a prayer.
A good surveyor will be able to spot problems that will derail your budget and cause you sleepless nights.
Use any disturbing findings to help you make an informed decision or renegotiate the asking price.
Fix the Basics First
Renovations must be done in the correct order.
There’s no point in buying a new kitchen when the electrics need ripping out, or plastering walls before the roof has been replaced. Work out a schedule of works and tackle the big stuff – like rewiring and replumbing – first.
Maintain Period Fixtures and Fittings
A big part of the charm of period homes is the antique fireplaces, plaster ceiling roses, and coving.
Where possible, try to maintain these features. If this isn’t possible, look for replacements from the same era.
For example, if you buy a Victorian townhouse and all the fireplaces have been ripped out, there are original fireplaces available from architectural salvage yards or even online from sites like eBay.
Look for an old-fashioned fireplace that suits the era of the property – don’t be tempted to stick a 1930s fireplace in a Regency property; it won’t look attractive.
Be Wary of Using Modern Materials
Modern materials have a lot of advantages, but they can cause problems in a period property. Gypsum plaster and latex paint are two good examples.
Period homes were not constructed with damp proof courses – they were designed to allow air to flow from under floors and out through open chimneys.
Modern materials like gypsum plaster and emulsion paint create an impermeable seal, which can lead to damp issues.
A lot of problems can be avoided by sticking to old-fashioned materials like lime plaster and lime-based paint. Do some research to see what materials were used in homes built around the same time as yours, and look for a contractor who understands the unique features of a period home.
Renovating a period home can be a huge project, but pour your heart into it and you’ll end up with a home you can truly love.