Estate agent Plaza Estates offers seven tips on how to renovate a period property in central London.
London in particular and the UK in general has a large reservoir of period houses, houses which have been standing for decades, centuries even. And the majority of these properties have been occupied since the day they were built.
For most of this time, the occupants only made cosmetic changes to their homes: the odd coat of paint, some new wallpaper, superficial decorating that never changed the appearance of the property's interior. The rooms in these houses stayed the same over the years. Then the 1960s arrived, and everything changed.
The rush for modernisation
Even in the humblest of homes, panelled doors were covered up with large sheets of hardboard and then painted white, fireplaces were covered up or ripped out, and in the grander houses, cornices were torn down, classic mantel shelves and chimneypieces were pulverised, all in the name of modernisation.
But fashions have since changed, and now there is a preference for conservation and preserving the architectural glories of the past. Period features are being restored, and ornamental cornices, architraves, mouldings and the like are highly sought-after.
Renovation does not have to mean buying an empty shell of a medieval barn or a derelict early-Victorian vicarage and starting from scratch. Renovation can mean just upgrading a kitchen or bathroom in a relatively modern property.
However, we are talking about people who want to do some serious renovation to a period property. The reasons for this vary: some want to increase the value of their property with an eye to making a profit, others just want conserve the past and create a charming, comfortable home to live in.
Whatever the reason for renovating, here are seven tips to consider before restoration work can begin:
1. Check the location. If you are thinking of living there for several years, make sure you and your family will be happy to live there several years into the future. If you are renovating with a view to sell and make a quick profit, make sure the area you have chosen will attract the kind of buyer you are looking for.
2. Check to see if it is a listed building. If it is, there may be some restrictions on what you can do when renovating.
3. Make sure you can afford the renovation you are planning. Carry out a thorough costing and then allow an extra 15 - 20% on top to cover any unseen extras.
4. Do not cut corners. Only employ tradesmen who are specialists in renovation work. Tradesmen who are familiar with timber, roofing and the problems damp and mould can cause. They may cost slightly more than non-specialists, but the extra cost will be worth it in the long run.
5. When you obtain quotes from the various tradesmen, give them as much information as you can of what you want. You will not have to give them a technical breakdown but a clear specification of what work you need will avoid future arguments about costs.
6. Beware of the local planning laws. Depending on the type of renovation you are undertaking, it would be wise to check with the local planning authority. Not all renovations will require planning permission, but it's prudent to check if you are planning a major renovation.
7. Will you need an architect? This really depends on how ambitious your renovation plans are. On a major renovation involving possible structural alterations, the services of an architect would be a good idea. Also, an architect will be able to help you with dealing with planning authorities.
Call Plaza Estates
The above tips are only some of the things you need to consider when thinking of renovating. If you are buying, you should research the background of the property you are considering buying. If the renovation is a major undertaking, you may want to consider hiring a project manager.
These and other questions can be answered if you call us for advice