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This Old House - Do-it-Yourself

5 Top Tips For Buying & Restoring A Period Property

Written by Posted On Thursday, 27 July 2017 15:20


Buying a period property is exciting but there are many potential pitfalls of restoring an old property. Here we look at 5 ways to avoid them.

If you're thinking about buying an old building, it is highly possible you will be attracted to its characterful charm, and you may well get swept away with the romance of it all. Buying any property for the first time is a major step, but buying an old property comes with its own rules, potential pitfalls and grey areas. Old properties can have many hidden problems and even the known problems tend to be more expensive to put right.

The following 5 tips will help you avoid some of the common pitfalls with period properties so you can avoid being one of many whose dreams of a characterful home fall by the wayside because of something that could have easily been avoided:

Is it the right building for you?

Before you hand over any cash, think carefully about whether or not it really is the house for you; try not to get caught up in the romance of owning and living in a characterful building because the reality is rarely the same as the dream. For example: is the home a tiny cottage that you would quickly outgrow as your family expands? Buying an old building involves accepting its peculiarities, not spending a ton of money trying to change them.

Have you sought professional help?

You need the person surveying the property to have specialist experience, and it is worth asking your surveyor if they do have the relevant experience before you enlist them. Once you have a specialist survey, you need to have somebody who knows about type of old building you have, what it is constructed of and who can advise you on the work that needs doing. Once you have that, you also need a specialist builder and other contractors who know how to do the work properly.

Take your time

It is so important to take your time when you are considering purchasing a period property. You can't just view a couple of times and when you have eventually purchased it, you should spend time in it, in all hours of the day. Get to know how the light moves through it, look at every nook and cranny, get to know the history of the building and if there are hidden sections. Get to know the different original features, and if you can speak to somebody who knows about the history of the building even better.

Be safe

It isn't a good idea to start ripping out parts of any building, let alone a period property without knowing about the safety of the place. Even the most careful and qualified people can have accidents so always proceed with caution when re-modelling a property.

Work with the building

In all cases, work with the building to make sure you are respecting its past. Try and make sure every decision is considered and educated, and when in doubt always seek professional advice. If you do make changes and take anything out, remember that you can keep hold of it if you think you might use it somewhere else another time. For example: you could take the vintage floor tiles in the hallway, and turn them into a floor tile rug in the living area, or original woodwork could be reconstructed to make furniture.

Remember, with old buildings it really is a case of the more you know. Take your time, do research and seek professional guidance - it will pay off, and you'll have an amazing property ready for the fun bit (interior decoration) in no time!

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