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.

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