Whether you’re buying a property to flip for a profit, a rental investment or you want to live in the home long-term, transforming an older house into a dream home can be a hugely rewarding experience. Period homes are having a moment and when you renovate, you have the opportunity to fuse old and new, creating a truly unique, showstopping property.
The perfect property can be somewhat daunting to many people but that’s actually one of the benefits of taking on a doer-upper. You can breathe new life into a dilapidated building that otherwise would be going to waste, and you can often see a healthy return on your investment by choosing to renovate a cheaper, older property. To avoid any costly mistakes and ensure that your restoration runs smoothly, here are some important tips to remember, from making sure you’ve done your research to bringing in the professionals when it counts the most.
Research is important if you want your home to stay in keeping with the period in which it was built, whether you’re dealing with a Victorian terrace, an 1800s farmhouse or a mid-century family home. Local experts, books and websites are all great resources for sympathetic restorations and the right techniques to use, so you can choose what’s appropriate for your home and your budget. There are always various approaches to take with a restoration so in-depth research is an important step to enable you to create a solid plan.
Property restoration can quickly become very expensive, so your first step should be outlining a comprehensive budget to keep you on track. This is a critical stage, especially if you, like most people, have a limited fund for the project. It is worthwhile going through each room and making a list of what needs to be done, then working out what you can do yourself and which tasks require a professional eye.
For example, this may include reconnection fees if the property isn’t currently connected to the water or electricity supply. You might also need to apply for planning permission if you’re planning an extension, or surveys for structural engineering. All of these elements of your project will come with a cost, so factor this into your budget straight away.
The right survey will highlight any potential issues early on, and could ultimately save you money in the long run. It is possible to arrange a survey before you’ve put an offer on the property but if you’re already in possession of the keys, a property survey as soon as possible will help.
A chartered surveyor will be able to advise you on any suspicious areas of the property, to detect infestations, subsidence, drainage issues or damp, and other problems. It will also help you prioritise different tasks based on what is a need and what iis a want. Most structural issues can be resolved and while it may mean you need to adjust your budget, it will create stronger foundations for future projects.
While modernising a property is the go-to for many homeowners, with a restoration project you don’t want to completely eradicate every original feature of the property. They’re what make it special, unique and add charm to the home, so they should be protected. From original fireplace surrounds to repairing ornate mouldings or restoring sash windows to bring them back to their former glory, it’s important to be sympathetic to the features and bring in professionals to retain the fine details. A little extra effort initially will result in a much better looking property at the end, so it’s worth preserving as many original features as you can.
Old homes are notorious for bad electricity and plumbing, so if you don’t want to ruin all your hard work later on by needing to rip out cables or deal with leaky pipes, it pays to handle it early on. Make sure you have a qualified plumber and electrician take a look at these important aspects before you carry out any major renovations, especially if you want to add in new installations such as underfloor heating or a power shower. Even if there are no immediate issues, make sure a professional checks over these systems as soon as possible to rule out any problems.
Energy efficiency has become a focus in recent years, and you don’t need to neglect it just because you’re restoring an older property. In fact, there are various ways you can make a home more eco-friendly and still sympathetic to the surrounding decor.
Draught-proofing, for example, is a great way to prevent cold air from seeping into the rooms of your home, as well as wall and loft insulation which will keep the home warmer in the winter. In an older house, cavity wall insulation can be very effective in reducing heating costs. Likewise, replacing single-glazed windows with double glazing can keep your home warm and more secure. Just make sure you have planning permission, as some older homes may be listed.
Small problems are bound to appear during a complex project like a restoration, so factor in time at the end to fix them. While tradespeople should come back to fix any issues that they have caused, you will have to pay for any defects that aren’t their fault such as cracks in plaster or chipped paint on door frames. Snagging lists are common with renovations and they ensure that the final result is professional.
Carrying out a restoration is time-consuming and can be costly, but if you’re able to bag yourself a bargain property and can take on some of the work yourself, it’s possible to land yourself an incredibly beautiful and sympathetic period property. Period homes make great family homes but they also have potential for a beautiful rental property that will yield a higher income to a discerning tenant.