So you’re thinking of restoring a heritage property
WELL here’s our guide to get you started.
Restoration work can be daunting, overwhelming, exhausting and expensive and it will probably also be one of the most rewarding and satisfying achievements in your life.
The opportunity to reawaken a forgotten object of history is one that will take you on a roller coaster of emotions: many highs … and many lows.
In order to try and have as few lows as possible, let’s look at where to start when you are considering or have committed to restoring a heritage property. In short, planning, planning and of course, planning.
As author Seth Godin said; ‘If you don’t have the time to do it right, then what makes you think you’ll have the time to do it over?’
Maybe I should send this to The Block contestants? First thing to do is visit the local council and find out if there are any restrictions on the land and/or property. Is it heritage listed? Find out if it is a local or national listing and how that may impact on restorative work.
Seek out as much information about the history of the property as possible. Start with what year it was built and by whom. What was the original use of the building? The answers to these questions will help you understand and identify period architectural elements. Knowing who the architect and builder were will allow you to research other examples of their work which will in turn facilitate you being able to make educated decisions about your own project.
Consult a heritage architect, preferably local. Speak to them about your ideas and get a scope for what may be involved in carrying out restoration work including their fees and any other independent reports that are likely to be required such as an engineer’s report.
Live in it. If feasible, spend at least 12 months in the property before even lifting a tool. This will allow you to see how the existing structure and building materials behave through the seasons. Is there movement in the framework during the heat of summer? Are there damp issues during winter? How does the winter/summer light come through? Seriously, by the time you have done your planning and research 12 months will be over before you know it.
Start at the ground. Get your foundations right from the get go.
Expect the unexpected and budget for it. Wherever possible engage heritage-based contractors. It will save you in the long term.