Is it bet­ter to re­store or re­pair a her­itage home?

George Herald - Private Property - - Property News -

It's no se­cret that old homes have a very spe­cial kind of char­ac­ter that is dif­fi­cult to repli­cate in mod­ern spa­ces. From Cape Dutch to mid-cen­tury mod­ern or even 70s-kitsch, a well-pre­served pe­riod prop­erty has the po­ten­tial to achieve record-break­ing sales fig­ures in the right mar­ket.

To ful­fil this po­ten­tial, many own­ers of her­itage or pe­riod prop­er­ties opt for care­ful restora­tion to re­turn things to as-built con­di­tion. Ac­cord­ing to David Ja­cobs, Gaut­eng re­gional man­ager for the Raw­son Prop­erty Group, not only is this a very costly op­tion, in cer­tain cir­cum­stances it can ac­tu­ally di­min­ish the value of the home. Orig­i­nal ma­te­ri­als and tech­niques "It's easy to for­get that the value of an old prop­erty isn't just about aes­thet­ics," says Ja­cobs. "Yes, they're beau­ti­ful and have unique fea­tures and won­der­ful char­ac­ter, but they also have a huge amount of his­tory recorded in their walls. It's this his­tory that is at the core of their value to true her­itage fans, and the restora­tion process can wipe a lot of that away."

Ja­cobs is quick to point out that this only ap­plies to restora­tion in­volv­ing the re­moval of orig­i­nal build­ing ma­te­ri­als or fea­tures and re­plac­ing them with mod­ern equiv­a­lents in the orig­i­nal style.

"We see this a lot with things like wooden floors, lime plas­ter walls and roof tiles - things you don't re­ally think about as be­ing in­te­gral to a build­ing's value," he says. "In re­al­ity, these are a trea­sured record of orig­i­nal build­ing ma­te­ri­als and tech­niques, and their scars of age and use aren't con­sid­ered blem­ishes they're more of a liv­ing di­ary."

Don't re­place, re­pair

In ad­di­tion to hold­ing clues to the ins and outs of daily life when the prop­erty was new, Ja­cobs says orig­i­nal ma­te­ri­als are of­ten more suited to keep­ing old build­ings in good con­di­tion than mod­ern al­ter­na­tives.

"So many old homes strug­gle with things like damp, be­cause the orig­i­nal lime plas­ter and sus­pended wooden floors have been re­placed with ce­ment and con­crete slabs," he says. "These pre­vent the walls and un­der­floor spa­ces from breath­ing the way they were de­signed to do, and all that trapped mois­ture causes flak­ing paint, musty smells and rot­ting floor boards." In­stead of restor­ing a her­itage home by re­plac­ing worn or dam­aged ma­te­ri­als, Ja­cobs sug­gests opt­ing to re­pair the orig­i­nals in­stead, when­ever pos­si­ble.

"Ob­vi­ously, this can be dif­fi­cult when it comes to things like plumb­ing and electrics," he ad­mits. "Safety and func­tion­al­ity do come first. That said, orig­i­nal light switches and lamps, taps and bath­room fit­tings can all usu­ally be con­nected to mod­ern pipes and wiring, and add a huge amount of char­ac­ter - and value - to a home."

Ja­cobs says a sur­pris­ing amount of orig­i­nal fea­tures can be re­paired rather than re­placed, from patch­ing wooden win­dows to adding hid­den sup­ports un­der un­even stair­cases or floors.

"Even orig­i­nal plas­ter can of­ten be re­paired and patched with tra­di­tional ma­te­ri­als for a frac­tion of the cost of re­do­ing it," he says. Ar­ti­sans

"You just need to find a team of trusted ar­ti­sans with the knowl­edge and ex­per­tise to work in more tra­di­tional ways."

This, he be­lieves is the main chal­lenge for her­itage prop­erty own­ers.

"As a so­ci­ety, we've al­most lost the art of re­pair over the years," he says. "Things are de­signed with a life­span of five or ten years, and af­ter that we just throw them away. The joy of old build­ings - and old fit­tings and fea­tures

- is that they were de­signed to last a life­time. With care­ful re­pairs and main­te­nance, they can of­ten out­live their mod­ern equiv­a­lents, pro­tect­ing not only our his­tory, but also our bot­tom line!"

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.