What are the dos and don’ts of a pe­riod ren­o­va­tion?

De­signer Greg Toon on work­ing with a prop­erty with her­itage re­stric­tions

Real Homes - - Contents -

Do Re­search, re­search, re­search

Once you live in a Con­ser­va­tion Area or own a pe­riod prop­erty, learn its his­tory. It’s use­ful in­for­ma­tion when con­sid­er­ing mak­ing changes and for jus­ti­fy­ing them to the con­ser­va­tion of­fi­cer. It’ll point to which ar­eas are orig­i­nal or rare, and high­light the con­ser­va­tion red lines that the au­thor­i­ties will not cross. It should also re­veal which ar­eas have been al­tered over the years – de­sign cues you can use when plan­ning ren­o­va­tions or ex­ten­sions that might fol­low the lines of the orig­i­nal ar­chi­tec­ture. There are guides to work­ing in Con­ser­va­tion Ar­eas or with Listed Build­ings; your lo­cal coun­cil should have a Con­ser­va­tion Area Ap­praisal and Sup­ple­men­tary Plan­ning Guid­ance (SPGS). Pub­lic bod­ies like His­toric Eng­land, His­toric En­vi­ron­ment Scot­land and other re­gional equiv­a­lents pub­lish tech­ni­cal in­for­ma­tion on pe­riod build­ings. Use th­ese to prove you’re ad­her­ing to the prin­ci­ples in them and you’ll have a bet­ter chance of at­tain­ing plan­ning, List­ing Build­ing Con­sent or Con­ser­va­tion Area per­mis­sions.

Em­ploy the best

Gen­er­ally her­itage prop­er­ties or build­ings in her­itage lo­ca­tions cost more to buy, run and main­tain. The same is true for do­ing works to them – ar­chi­tects will charge more due to the ad­di­tional com­plex­i­ties, and the spe­cial­ist crafts­men you’ll need are ex­pen­sive, too. If you don’t have time to do the re­search, make sure your ar­chi­tect has a track record with pe­riod/listed prop­er­ties. The au­thor­i­ties that deal with such build­ings ex­pect a high qual­ity of ap­pli­ca­tion and skimp­ing on the pro­fes­sion­als you hire could see you fall­ing at the first hur­dle.

Work with what you have

Changes with min­i­mal im­pact on ex­ist­ing el­e­ments but max­i­mum ef­fect are what you’re aim­ing for. Let the build­ing guide you to the most har­mo­nious de­sign de­ci­sions. A new door open­ing here and there may offer the op­por­tu­nity to change room uses and rev­o­lu­tionise the house’s flow. It of­ten points to a ‘bro­ken plan’ or semi open-plan lay­out that is an en­dur­ing style rather than a pass­ing fad.

Dont Be un­re­al­is­tic

Don’t buy a her­itage prop­erty if you are not pre­pared to ac­cept the lim­i­ta­tions and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of own­ing one. Lots of own­ers end up frus­trated by the plan­ning sys­tem – which could be avoided if ex­pec­ta­tions are re­al­is­tic from the be­gin­ning.

Have de­sign pre­con­cep­tions

All ar­chi­tec­tural de­sign should be be­spoke – each pro­ject led by the lo­ca­tion, the build­ing, and what the client wants. This is es­pe­cially true with her­itage build­ings where the prop­erty plays a big­ger role in the brief. It might seem odd in the Pin­ter­est age, but don’t fix­ate on images of dream projects. Some will not be ap­pro­pri­ate for your sit­u­a­tion and pur­su­ing them could re­sult in dis­ap­point­ment. Start with an open mind and don’t be in­flu­enced by trends, let the house guide you.

Be in­flex­i­ble in your de­sign

Pe­riod build­ings ben­e­fit from an adapt­able ap­proach. Some­times it might be to de­sign in a match­ing style to blend in. Some­times a con­tem­po­rary con­trast might bet­ter high­light what is orig­i­nal. In­ter­nally, of­ten you will be re­pair­ing/restor­ing old fea­tures, but some­times you’ll need to recre­ate what is miss­ing (like a cor­nice, for ex­am­ple). Or you may need to cover up a fea­ture in or­der to pro­tect it. Th­ese are valid de­sign ap­proaches and should be con­sid­ered as part of what’s best for your home and the way you live in it.

Greg Toon

is an ar­chi­tec­tural de­signer and founder of Po­ten­tial etc po­ten­tialetc.com

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