You could easily be enticed by the prospect of cost-effectively buying an old, run-down home and transforming it to your own liking. After all, you wouldn’t even necessarily need to hand most of the work over to tradespeople, as this couple cited by Metro found out.
All the same, it’s easy to make mistakes when renovating an older home — especially if you are personally inexperienced with it. Here are five things you should particularly consider before the renovation work itself begins.
Whether the building is listed
If it indeed is, you would be legally barred from making unauthorized modifications to it. However, it’s not enough just to be aware of a listing; you also need to know exactly what it outlaws.
Were you to undertake renovation work the listing’s terms and conditions don’t allow, you could need to reverse the changes. Worse, you could potentially be prosecuted.
Which parts of the home to modernize
In truth, it would probably be ill-advised to update the property’s decor in more than a subtle way — as, otherwise, you could end up with what just feels like a contemporary home in an old shell.
When renovating a period home, you should aim to do so in a way that preserves or enhances the building’s historical elements. If you are considering replacing any old finishes, fittings, or features, ask a tradesperson’s advice on how — if possible at all — you could do this in a visually tasteful way.
What to do with the loft
Grand Designs Magazine describes a loft conversion as “one of the most affordable ways to add living space to a property”, a “genius” method for renovating a period property.
However, attempting to convert a period home’s loft effectively can throw up unexpected challenges, as the home may have uneven joists or lack enough of the timber that would support the roof structure. You should be particularly careful to choose the right loft boarding so that the attic can be sufficiently insulated.
The root cause of any defect you discover
It’s a common mistake for renovators of heritage homes to tackle the symptoms, rather than the underlying cause, of a defect.
Let’s assume that some walls are showing damp patches. In this scenario, rather than simply trying to conceal those patches or prevent moisture from surfacing on the internal wall finishes, you could stop that moisture from penetrating the wall in the first place. Maybe there’s a leaking gutter that needs fixing?
How much contingency money to set aside
How large a budget will you need overall for the renovation project? You could have only a vague idea at best, since certain issues with a period property might only emerge once fabric has been removed from it.
Examples of remedial work that could turn out to be required include rebuilding walls and replacing roof trusses. So, to counter the risk of stumbling upon such problems, you could heed Build It’s advice to “have a substantial contingency (which is actually available to spend if necessary) of at least 20%”.