Restoring and Renovating a House

Restoring and renovating a house is more often than not a labour of love, rather than a way to make a fast buck in the housing market. Bargains are hard to come by, everyone is looking for that neglected diamond in the rough that, with some TLC and a lot of dosh, can be restored to its former glory.

renovating a house

The British have rediscovered their love of period properties, whether it’s creating a marriage of old and new or a restoration project. While it is usually cheaper to knock down the original building and start from scratch, most people prefer restoring or renovating a house.

The growing interest in derelict period houses and barn conversions has pushed up asking prices; barns are often still inhabited by their 4-legged occupants when they’re put on the market for £500,000+. Once converted, barn conversions easily double or triple in value, but due to the unpredictable nature of developing period properties the best laid plans are often waylaid and sent over budget.

It is not the developers who are seeking out these old properties, requiring heavy investment and their unpredictability can make them a risky venture, instead it is people who are seeking their dream house- somewhere they want to make a long term family home.

The do’s and don’ts of period property restoration and renovation

  • Do check that electrics and heating systems comply with current regulations
  • Do live in the property before you renovate it to find out it quirks and uncover any potential problems
  • Do repair rather than replace whenever possible
  • Don’t assume you can change anything in the property that you want, if the property is listed check what permissions are required before you carry out any work
  • Don’t build on additions that can’t be removed without risking damage to the original structure
  • Don’t remove period features: this may be illegal and severely affect the value of the property

It’s important to do your research. If you want your home to be of a period make sure windows and furnishings are correct, so that your restoration looks authentic.


Of all the external features, windows are the most important to get right. If the property has been updated with windows that are not in keeping with the period, remove and replace them with like-for-like versions of the originals whenever possible.

Victorian glass is not of the same quality that we produce today, it is textured and diffuses the light differently within a room, its imperfections are what makes it desirable. If your property requires new windows but the glass has remained intact, it is best to incorporate and reuse the original glass.

To ensure your windows are kept in a good condition have them painted professionally on a regular basis. Traditional craftsmen are experts at restoring neglected period windows that will last for 10 years before needing to be repainted.

Brickwork & Pointing

If a brick or stone property was built before the First World War it will have a lime mortar. It is not only important to use a lime mortar to ensure it matches but also because of how period properties were built; modern houses use a series of barriers to keep moisture out whereas period properties rely on the porosity of the walls allowing water to be absorbed and then evaporate.


Most Victorian houses’s original roofs are covered with Welsh slate which is typically expensive to replace, so when in need of a new roof salvage as much of the slate as possible to help reduce the cost of re-roofing. Although modern artificial slates are no match for Welsh slate, nowadays slate imported from China is a good match and significantly cheaper than the Welsh ideal.


The ‘bathroom’ didn’t exist until the late 1800’s, if you have been devoted to the authenticity of your restoration to its period and your house was built before the adoption of modern sanitation, this is likely to be your stumbling block. A fashionable Victorian style bathroom may prove to be an adequate stand in and its inauthenticity is likely to go unnoticed.


Parquet flooring is a fashionable Victorian choice but if you’re not lucky enough to have the originals, a patterned carpet with a 2 foot parquet border is a more economical alternative. Don’t be tempted to choose cheaper modern alternatives stick to traditional materials wherever you can.

If you own a period property and you’re considering a renovation or restoration project, make sure you hire quality, local traditional craftsmen. have 1000’s of tradesmen who have experience working on period properties. To find a tradesman in your area, post your job for free on . Up to 3 tradesmen will contact you to quote for the work, review their ratings from previous customers and choose the right tradesman for you.

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