REVEALED: a list of the top 10 worst things you can to a period home
PUBLISHED: 10:10 01 June 2018 | UPDATED: 11:42 06 November 2018
From painting over brickwork to ripping up tiled floors and putting in new windows...estate agent Nick Eley, partner at Watsons, comes clean on the worst things home owners do to period houses - and it isn’t pretty...
It all comes down to home ‘improvement.’
You buy a period house - that maybe dates to the Edwardian, Victorian or Georgian era, or even earlier, and you want to put your own stamp on it, make it your own home.
Nothing wrong with that but in doing so, says Nick Eley, partner at Watsons with 40 years’ experience in estate agency, you can sometimes unwittingly devalue your home.
Mr Eley, at Watsons which has a Period & Prestige arm of the business specialising in little property treasures from small terraces to large country homes, said: “Ultimately a house does have to evolve and work for its modern day owner and sometimes original features are too damaged to retain but if this is the case, just think before going ahead with an improvement which you can’t easily undo.
“Fashion, of course, dictates so much of our lives and heavily influences property design, however I believe it is important to retain as much of the original character of your home as possible. Moulded cornicing and panelled doors might feel out of vogue now but once removed, you can’t easily replace them. My advice would be to leave such features alone.
“Many things you shouldn’t do are fairly obvious - like not ripping out an original fireplace or carpeting over a period tiled floor, unless absolutely necessary, but you would be surprised how many times as an estate agent, I see this and there are many other things people do which they just don’t realise is really reducing their home’s value and spoiling its character.”
So, just what are the WORST things we do to our period homes and how can we avoid such mistakes?
1. Windows - you want draught-free windows that are easy to open but think carefully when replacing originals because changing the shape and style dramatically alters the entire appearance of the house. Plastic windows should be avoided and there are window manufacturers who can replicate period styles. There is no doubt that replacement windows can be a significant investment and potentially can add value. When having replacement sash windows, ensure they are fitted exactly like the originals, set to the back of the window opening, otherwise they just look wrong.
2. Exterior brickwork - don’t be tempted to splash some colour on it as once painted, you’ve altered the look forever. Keeping the brickwork exposed retains character and is also easier to maintain but you can always get it repointed or carefully cleaned if necessary.
3. Fireplaces - you probably won’t rip out an original but don’t be tempted to paint over its inset tiles so that it matches your decor - it’s a common mistake.
4. Be careful painting shuttered sash windows - you might not be able to open them again and part of the joy is in them working.
5. Doors - internal: retain the brass finger plates and door handles (if you don’t like them, remove them but store them) and if replacing doors, get your panels right; particularly important with your front door. For example, a Georgian door would typically have four-six panels with no glass and often a semi circular fan light over bringing light into the hall. Victorian homes had four-six panels but with glass included and brass handles and a door knocker - householders had the servants then who would polish them. Edwardian and later houses tended to do away with the brass fittings and houses in the 1930s saw patterned glass in shapes of sun rays and chevrons and chrome fittings were used. Look at the houses in your vicinity or search on the internet to try and get the right front door for the period of your house.
6. Think about the exterior even before you get to the front door - are wrought iron railings in keeping at the front and if not, can you replicate them and their intricate details such as the decorative finials?
7. Roof - if you need to repair or replace, again look at the original materials used - often pantiles and slate -and match accordingly and do this with brickwork if you extend, trying to match the colour, shape and size of the original bricks.
8. Don’t carpet over an original tiled floor - unless absolutely necessary as it will damage it - an original floor can be cleaned up and polished, and will be more maintenance free and easier to manage than a carpet. Specialists can repair and replicate cracked tiles.
9. Preserve as much as you can that is original to the house and tells you about life there - so don’t paint over or remove the set of servant bells, a name or date stone on the front of a house.
10. Retain original staircases - where possible, repair them but be careful again to match to the period - think about the bannister and the balustrades as well as the stairs themselves.
Watsons Period & Prestige are currently selling a very well preserved late Georgian house on Unthank Road in the sought after Golden Triangle area of Norwich, for £500,000, which has many of its original features intact.
These include sash windows slightly recessed from the exterior brickwork, original brickwork, a name stone, a canopied front porch, wrought iron railings with finial detail on the gate post and an original front door.
If you have a period home you are thinking of selling or are looking for one to buy, and need advice, you can contact Nick Eley at Watsons Period & Prestige on 01603 226555 or www.periodandprestige.co.uk