Renovating or restoring an old home

Most ­people wish to renovate, to renew or modernize a house to suit their needs. However, some people love the charm of an old house. Here's a  guide to deciding whether to renovate or restore your home.

Renovating or restoring an old home

Restoring an old house

If you have bought a house that is a fine example of its period, you may wish to restore it instead of renovating, returning it to its original condition complete with the features it had when first built. This can be a painstaking and expensive exercise, but the results can be spectacular.

  • Some people choose simply to "care" for an old home, accepting that a hundred years and several generations of living will have left their mark, making blemishes inevitable.
  • Rather than being restored, the house is carefully maintained while being allowed to display its history.
  • Some concessions to modern living can be made though, such as the installation of a new kitchen and bathroom and provision of adequate power outlets and water services.

Alterations and additions

If you are contemplating doing alterations and additions to the house, consider how they will fit into your overall plan. For example, if you are thinking of eventually replacing a rear lean-to structure with a new kitchen and family area, it would make poor sense to spend money on renovating the old structure in the meantime.

  • A house's roofing and guttering can perhaps be patched, paint application can be minimal, the walls may be disguised — all without spending too much time, energy or money.
  • If the inside of the house is undergoing alterations, such as walls being removed or moved, or a side of the house being extended, decoration or interim repairs of such areas are best left until the alterations are finished.
  • Bear in mind that alterations and additions are normally more expensive than renovations. They cost more per square metre than building a new home, because the work has to take account of out of square existing structures, non-metric building materials and working areas that may be restricted due to other alterations going on at the same time.
  • A simple face-lift can provide a new lease of life for old timber cottages and something as simple as a fresh coat of paint or the addition of a veranda with a traditional bull-nose roof can give a charming colonial appearance to a plain facade once open to the weather.

The major items in a renovation list

Always tackle the major repairs first.

  • Treat the essentials, and then take care of structural damage, dampness and ventilation, the overall aim being not to do anything twice.
  • Repeated attempts at fixing a problem waste time and cost considerable amounts of money.
  • Painting should be last on the list, even though it may be tempting to improve the appearance of the house straight away.

Whether your decide to renovate an old home to meet your modern needs or restore it to keep its vintage charm, this guide is sure to help you get started. Just remember to think about your plan and be sure it is exactly what you want before you start renovating.

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