Common Period Property Renovation Mistakes Made By Homeowners

Make the most of your period property by avoiding these renovation pitfalls!

period properties

No homeowner wants to devalue their home, but in the ongoing maintenance and management of a period property, many often do; inadvertently or otherwise. While older homes do present lots of character and opportunity, it’s often easier to opt for the removal of their original features than it is to maintain them – and this can have a devastating impact on how much the home is worth. We spoke to some architects, estate agents and renovation experts and learnt the most common mistakes made by overkeen hasty homeowners.

The most common feature removals

In a recent survey, just 5% of period property homeowners stated that they wouldn’t remove any original features. The most popular removal choice was traditional radiators, favoured by 26% of homeowners; likely because of their inefficient energy usage, poor heating performance and in some cases, safety issues presented (particularly for those with children, who could accidentally scald or burn themselves). Timber and sash windows were also a hot favourite for removal at 25%; often because of their likelihood to deteriorate; coving, ceiling rose and dado rails; wooden beams and original fireplaces.
While not all of these feature removals would devalue the property – radiators for example could devalue the home if kept in-tact – many of them could be considered inappropriate by future buyers and may even lower the price that could be expected of it.

Should I ever remove original features from a period property?

There are many situations in which it’s appropriate to remove the original features of a home, or that there’s simply no choice but to – and no homeowner should avoid it if they need to. However, when replacing a period feature it is always worth installing a replacement that is in keeping with the look and feel of the rest of the home; and not straying too far into the wild with whatever is put in its place.

Period property maintenance: Windows

Old windows are notoriously inefficient, and in a climate of skyrocketing energy bills these just aren’t feasible for many homeowners to keep even if they’d like to. However, there are alternatives that can work. Most single-glazing panes can be removed and replaced with double- or triple-glazed windows without impacting too much on the frames around them. That said, there are instances where timber frames may need reconstructing or replacing. A specialist window fitter or glazier will do this to match the colour of the existing frames as closely as possible. While UPVC is frequently the cheapest window frame option – and so now the most popular choice across the country – the replacement of timber frames with these would be highly discouraged. Doing so can devalue a home by up to an estimated £12,000! Sash windows can be refreshed by specialist technicians and where windows do have to stay single-glazed (usually only for listed building reasons), there are specific products available to help increase interior warmth and decrease heat loss.

Period property maintenance: Floors

Many period homes have combination floors; part timber, part tiled. In most cases, these are now stripped wooden floorboards that bare little resemblance to the dark tints they likely were originally stained with. It is, in most instances however, worth keeping wooden floors where they’re still in good condition regardless – new owners can simply stain or paint the timber as they’d like if it’s too light for their taste. To replace rotten sections of board, parts may be able to be installed from elsewhere in the house, but where new wooden flooring needs to be laid, the new aesthetic should be adopted with the utmost care so that it remains sympathetic to the rest of the room’s theme. Where tiles have broken and cannot be replaced, consider other tiles from the same time period or a plain tile in a parquet style. In most cases, any period carpets will now be beyond repair from age alone but specialist carpet cleaning firms and products do exist.

Period property maintenance: Fireplaces

Fireplaces in period properties are frequently not actually functional and sometimes just covered or bricked up. As a result, it’s not uncommon for them to go untouched and just be left dirty, dusty and unused for anything other than their mantlepiece. If at all possible, feature fireplaces should be maintained and closed up properly to avoid any drafts before being left in place. If there is a fireplace that really doesn’t fit with the rest of the room, it should be covered with a temporary surface or fitting – as the removal of it entirely can devalue a home by up to 5%! Although some other features can be at least reconstructed, a fireplace can never be resurrected once demolished; and often can’t be replicated.

Period property maintenance: Fixtures and fittings

Period fixtures and fittings are often unwieldy and expensive to clean, maintain and replace; but remain popular with buyers. Fixtures and fittings should be kept where possible and their maintenance and attention will pay off in the long run in this respect. Where decorative elements aren’t easy to maintain, again, these can be replaced with fixtures sympathetic to the period décor throughout the home. For smaller fixtures and fittings such as door handles, hinges, cupboard knobs, light switches and window furniture, there is a huge amount of options available that give the appearance of traditional styles without actually being sourced from these periods. Sticking with a  consistent finish throughout all (be it bronze, pewter, brushed steel or antiqued brass) with provide a curated classic look that doesn’t betray its newer instalment and will instead remain timeless in its design.
Period properties can be challenges but should be embraced rather than rejected where possible. Although homeowners with older houses may find they need to spend a little more time maintaining and sustaining, there’s lots that can be done to help create and secure value in the property; so one day, when someone else owns it, they love it just as much as the original residents did. Period can present potential… so work with it and not against!

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