About a fifth of homes in the UK were built before 1919, so when hunting for a period house, you must do your research. The beautiful original floors, the roaring log fire, and the quirky architectural features with cottage gardens can be luring features to attract you to purchase an older property. The supply of older housing stick is finite. The demand for these properties as a result is very competitive, therefore they often command a higher price when they become available to purchase.
Spot the original features
The best period homes are rich in not only craftsmanship but also in detail. There are textural variations as well as surface patina linked to ageing and use. Originality is embraced in many facets of the building including the ceilings, walls, antique fireplaces, and decorative mouldings or the weathered stone. If there is damage that has occurred, repairs will have been done to retain the integrity and authenticity of the original features. Sometimes, originality may be eroded when new materials are introduced in the old houses.
You may easily notice restorative work that was done before by contractors attempted to return the home to a perfect state resulting in loss of original fabric. It can be costly to authentically recreate period features and budgeting for this work is essential from the outset.
Problems with older properties
Older buildings tend to be damp, something that leads to decay and rotting or even beetle infestation. You should examine the home carefully to see if dampness may have resulted in damages that could be costly to repair. Structural issues are also vital to check since they’re more expensive to repair. Cracks, bulging walls, sloping floors and uneven roof lines are other things to look out for when inspecting older properties.
Most of these problems including bulging to the walls and cracks may be due to decay, however, they can also arise from settlement of the house over time. Inadequately sized timber joists, heaves, and subsidence or even lintels and rafters of the wrong sizes can lead to structural problems.
You should not assume that because an area of the wall has certain material, the entire home comprises that material. You may find a wide variety of materials have been used to construct a period home. The dry-lining and internal layers of the plasterboard could be hiding various problems. It is your responsibility that you check potential structure issues. Quick fixes are previously done on the property or past alterations and repairs involving plastering, rendering, and cement mortars can hold unpleasant surprises.
Modernisation and extension
Some elements of the older properties will need modernisation particularly bathrooms, kitchens and heating. You need to think about the way the extension is going to integrate with the existing spaces. Also, see how the ventilation and light can be combined with the current rooms with the addition of the new space.
While en-suite bathrooms may be desirable, they can often lead to loss of the original bedroom. This is something that could potentially affect the resale value of the property. A loft conversion can be used to overcome these kinds of problems, however, there may be a downside of losing further space so that you accommodate the staircase to the new loft room.
If you are thinking of changing the property’s layout, you need to understand that some buildings are better placed to accommodate changes compared to others. When you knock small rooms together intending to create one big room, it can easily destroy the essence of period houses. Also, removing things like chimneys breasts and fireplaces can offer space, however, it can affect the proportion of the rooms.
Have a full survey
Because old buildings have many surprises, you should be ready for all possibilities and problems. A building survey done by a surveyor is important to find out any potential problems with the structure. Drainage and chimney need also be to be surveyed. A structural engineer may need to be called in to assess and offer design solutions.
Can you afford any repairs?
Think of the renovation costs if you are going to repair the old home. You can get estimates from a builder or a surveyor on the cost of renovation. Figure out to see if you can meet the costs and use that as a negotiation tool on the final price.
People may take a rose-tinted view in buying period houses that need repair work. It can be extremely stressful to repair an old building. You should carefully examine the task ahead regarding repairs and your timescale or budget before you can proceed with the deal. If you have doubts, never be afraid to walk away.
Ensure you have a working budget before you can begin any renovation or building. You also need to have sufficient funds to be able to complete the work. You can add about 20 percent contingency figure to cater for unseen problems. If you are working on repairs for a very old or highly neglected property, you can double the contingency amount.
Will you need permission when making changes?
Regulation may apply in making changes of the old house if it’s listed or it’s within a conservation area. A listed house adds value to an old home and it offers legal protection for the property. However, if disaster strikes, then rebuilding a listed building can cost you more than other properties. Talk to an insurance broker if you’re unsure of property law affecting your home.
Ensure that you assess your priorities like designing a new kitchen for period home and working on the fabric and structural elements of the building. A new kitchen may not be a priority but the structural and fabric issues need to be considered first. Ensure you establish a budget to facilitate the plans before you can agree on a mortgage offer. This will ensure that you have achievable plans. If possible, you may want to live with the house for a few seasons to gain an understanding of its structural and design elements before you consider making big changes. You may find that during that time, you discover issues with the building that require immediate fixing.
Buy the old home
When you are pleased with the old home and you made all the considerations and evaluated the cost of renovation, you can enter into the purchase process. You will need to work out things with a conveyancer to help with the buying.
With these considerations, you can decide whether you will buy a specific home or not. You will also be in the limelight on how much it’s going to cost you to do repairs.
- Age and condition. Older properties are more likely to have problems with the structure, such as cracks in the walls or foundation, or with the systems, such as the plumbing or electrical. It is important to have a thorough inspection done by a qualified professional before you make an offer.
- Energy efficiency. Older properties are often less energy-efficient than newer homes, which can lead to higher utility bills. If you are concerned about energy efficiency, you may want to consider a home that has been recently renovated or that has features such as double-glazing or insulation.
- Maintenance and repairs. Older properties may require more maintenance and repairs than newer homes. This is something to factor in when you are budgeting for the cost of owning a home.
- Character and charm. Older properties often have character and charm that is not found in newer homes. If you are looking for a home with a unique personality, an older property may be a good option for you.
- Location. The location of an older property is just as important as the condition of the property itself. Consider the neighbourhood, the proximity to schools, shops, and amenities, and the overall value of the property in the area.