period home renovation
ARTICLE

Renovating a Period Home: Everything You Need to Know

Renovating a period home successfully means working to a fine balance. A modern home is, of course, one which boasts all the facilities you need. However, when working with period property, there is a matter of understanding how and where you should consider blending contemporary and classical together. How do you retain the charm of a period home while introducing modern installations and fixtures to make it liveable?

There is also a matter of money. Period home renovation costs can escalate if you do not have a clear budget in place. What’s more, fees will differ from project to project. Whether you are overseeing a period home modern makeover or something a little less complicated, you’re going to need to plan ahead.

In this guide, we will take a look at the absolute basics of renovating a period home. We will discuss the rules you always need to follow, as well as some of the more common period home renovation mistakes you should avoid. If you’re new to period home renovation, this guide is a perfect place to start.

Finding the Right Property

Step one of the process is, of course, finding the right home to renovate.  If you don’t already have one in mind, you should naturally consider looking at local properties for sale.  Consider looking for properties which state they require ‘renovation’.  If you already have a taste for period architecture, you may also know what you’re looking for in terms of aesthetics.  In which case, you should start exploring your local area as soon as possible.

How do you necessarily know that a property is right for your renovation project?  Here are a few things to consider:

  • Is there anything which is likely to cost a lot of money to repair? 
  • Is the property in a good area – i.e. not necessarily in the middle of nowhere? 
  • How much work will need to be undertaken?  It is always worth consulting an expert for advice on these matters. 
  • Are there already modern fittings and fixtures in place? 
  • How old is the property?  The older the building, the more likely it will be that more work is required to bring it up to code. 

Always Hire Inspectors

It’s never advisable to undertake property checks on your own, no matter how confident you may be about what you are looking for.  To ensure that a potential property is safe and sound for renovation, you must insist on an inspection of sorts.  Many estate agency services will be able to provide you with surveyor reports which give you a little more detail on what to expect from a house. 

However, nothing is stopping you from ensuring an inspection takes place on your terms.  Once you are confident enough to buy a plot or property outright, continue to survey.  This will be essential for your budget and timescale planning. 

Budget in Advance

One of the trickier elements of period home renovation is to budget precisely for a project. It’s our advice, generally, that you over-budget where possible.  There are a number of unexpected costs which may arise during a project, which of course means it is far better to be financially prepared than not at all. 

Budgeting is something that you will need to take complete control of.  While we always advise that experts handle the finer details of property renovation, unless you have a project accountant to hand helping you along, the finances are entirely up to you.  That may seem scary, but it does mean that you get a complete say over what happens and for how much. 

Here are just a few things you will need to consider when budgeting for any period renovation project: 

  • Inspection and surveying fees 
  • Contractor and building fees 
  • Planning permission fees 
  • Regulation costs 
  • Home insurance fees 
  • Extension costs (where applicable) 
  • Modernisation fees (i.e. electricity, water, gas, insulation) 
  • Waste removal costs 
  • Accountancy fees 
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This is all without considering the price of the property.  You may have already cleared this, but, as examined above, there will still be further period home renovation costs to bear in mind.  These projects can take time, too.  Therefore, you will need to plan for timescales as well as money along the way.

Do You Have Permission?

It is all well and good to start thinking about taking on a period of renovation once you’ve bought a property.  But will your local authority allow you to do so?  When it comes to building extensions, in particular, you should always approach a building or local authority first.  If you go ahead and hire builders or contractors without seeking permission, you will be risking your entire project getting closed down. 

Rules to Remember

Now that we’ve covered some of the absolute basics of period home renovation, it is time we looked at some dos and don’ts.  While every project is going to be different, there are golden rules, and there are common mistakes. Let’s take a quick look at what you should be paying attention to when getting started with your first project.

Considering DIY?  Think Carefully

If you’re considering renovating a period home, it’s likely you may have already thought about taking on a lot of the physical work yourself.  If you are an experienced contractor, this isn’t always a bad idea.  However, there is often a lot more work involved with a DIY renovation than you may anticipate. 

It is always recommended, mainly if it is your first renovation, to consult the services of expert contractors.  With the right team, you will be able to discuss your designs, plans and they will be able to put them into action safely.  There is a lot of planning involved with home renovation.  Going full DIY may just be one extra job you’ll struggle to balance. 

Be Realistic 

This can’t be stressed enough.  While period home renovation is a lot of fun, there must also be some grounding in reality. You’ll need to be realistic about how much you need to spend (see above). You’ll also need to make sure you have clear ideas in mind, but ones which can be easily incorporated into the property you have bought.  Once again, a contractor or building team will be able to help you make plans that little bit more practical and realistic. 

Take Your Time 

Planning for time is so important.  Tying back in with the concepts of planning and being realistic, it makes sense to spend as much time in your new property as possible.  Get to know the space, its character, its looks.  Think carefully about what you’d like to keep, and what you’d like to modernise. 

Perfect Isn’t Always Possible 

Part of the charm of many period properties lies in the fact that they are imperfect.  When modernising a home, it can be tempting to undo all of the quirks and slight faults it may have.  However, you should only really be thinking about fixing the problems that pose a genuine risk.  Structural issues, for example, should always be remedied and patched up.  Beyond that, painting over cracks or removing a few less attractive features could dilute the character of a property. 

Always Listen to the Right Experts 

Experts in renovating a period home know exactly what to look for from start to finish.  They will be able to advise you which areas of a property need urgent attention, and which should be retained. What’s more, you should never lead with a property advisor who is likely to tie-in certain services.  You need to approach a specialist firm, up front and agree on timescales, fees and to start discussing designs. 

Always Protect Your Site 

Just because a period home may have been left idle for some time doesn’t mean it won’t be attractive to intruders.  That will especially be the case if it is evident that work is starting on a property.  Therefore, you should always have a plan in place to secure your property if you ever go off-site. 

Research the Property and its Aesthetics 

One of the best ways you could prepare for renovation of a period home is to understand its look.  Talk to local experts who understand home styles and structures of old.  Research classical property from your home’s time period.  Understand which elements are worth preserving, and which are common to that period’s look.  It is always worth doing this to ensure you don’t over-modernise your project. 

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Getting Started

Renovating a period home is something which takes time, effort and money.  However, it is also something which can be hugely rewarding in the long run.  With the right team of period home contractors by your side, there is no reason why you won’t be able to modernise a property the way you want it. 

Consider approaching period experts with over 30 years’ experience in the trade.  Call Period Extensions & Designs for information on how we can help your project on 03 9882 5255.