Here at Duckworths Estate Agents, we have regular conversations about ‘dream homes’ and for many people, owning a period home is the ultimate property ambition. Whether you’re a fan of country cottages, rustic farmhouses, stately homes or Victorian terraces, there’s nothing quite like owning a piece of British heritage. However, a potential drawback with this kind of property purchase is that they often need a lot of renovating before they are ready for a modern lifestyle. Of course, some people may relish the challenge and the opportunity to bring a period home back to life – it’s all part of realising that dream.
Consult an architect
Before you begin, you need to ensure you get planning permission for the changes you want to make. It’s often best to consult an architect or a planning consultant as they will be able to advise you on the materials, costs, design and processes involved. While you can do this yourself, engaging a professional will save you money, time and stress in the long run.
Use the property as your guide
The most successful renovations of period properties are those which take inspiration from the property itself. If the property is Victorian, for example, can you pay tribute to the period in your furnishings or décor? When you’re replacing windows and doors, they should be as energy efficient and strong as possible, but consider choosing a more traditional style. Traditionally, windows had timber frames, but these can be costly and require a lot of maintenance, so you might want to opt for aluminium or composite frames with a timber effect finish.
Keep existing features
Try stripping away recent décor to expose what lies beneath. You may find original features which have been forgotten such as timbers, tiling, brickwork or boarded up fireplaces. You can use these original features while modernising other areas of the property to achieve a charming mix of the past and the present.
On the other hand, the process of renovation is supposed to improve your lifestyle, so don’t feel you have to keep an original element of the home if it doesn’t work for you. If you find features which you don’t want to keep, you may be able to relocate them or use them as materials in another area. Wood, for example, could be used to create furniture.
Maximise natural light
Older properties tend to have lower roofs and smaller windows, which can limit the natural light you enjoy. A great way to maximise the light in your home is to add new windows or even to add bifold doors. These doors can replace an entire wall with glass panels which fold back in a concertina fashion to remove the barrier between the inside and outside. If you are adding new windows or bifold doors, you should also consider installing period style shutters. The shutters will not only look great with the rest of the property’s period features but will also make your home more private and provide an extra layer of protection against heat loss.
Avoid Common Mistakes
If you are a new homeowner wishing to renovate your first property, there are several common mistakes you’d be wise to avoid. These range from underestimating how much the work will cost to complete and ending up wildly over budget, to expecting every aspect to run according to plan. Unfortunately, with any renovation task, there will be unexpected issues that arise, and which you need to be prepared for.
Additionally, you, as the homeowner must ensure you ask the right questions, and enough questions, when consulting with designers and contractors. As it’s your money you are spending, you need to be 100% confident and comfortable with the plans in place. If you’re not, or you don’t understand how something will work or look, don’t be afraid to ask.
Another common mistake is homeowners attack renovations with a broad view; they try to do it all at once and end up with multiple rooms in various stages of disarray. Instead, you need to assess each room and what each one needs as a separate entity, for example:
Does your current kitchen simply need new appliances or does it require a complete renovation? Think about your bedroom. It should be a haven to retreat to and is one room you should focus on solely before attempting to change any others to give you a relaxing retreat amid the renovation work. Likewise, bathrooms can look tired and worn out quickly. This is also a room which needs to be focused on solely. Think about adding a calming theme – for example, the beach or the ocean, with calming colours.
Whatever you decide, the renovation process needs a great deal of planning and a respectful, balanced approach to restoration and modernisation.
For expert property advice contact the team at Duckworths Estate Agents on 01254 234242.