Top Two Things to Consider When Restoring an old building

So you’ve found a beautiful old building that’s crying out for restoration in order to return it to its former glory or turn it into something new and wonderful – now where on earth do you even begin? The decision to restore an old property is not one to be made lightly as it takes a lot of hard work, a lot of money, and a lot of patience. However, the results can make all that absolutely worthwhile – not only will you have a stunning, unique home, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve helped preserve a little bit of history.

Set out the budget before you buy

Before you start bidding at an auction or make an offer on an old property, explore it thoroughly, preferably with a builder or surveyor, so that you know what you’re letting yourself in for. You need to know exactly how much it will cost to restore the building, which means figuring out what needs to be replaced completely, and how much each aspect of the restoration will be. That includes basic services such as electrics, insulation, damp-proofing, and perhaps even sanitation if it is a building which wasn’t used for residential purposes. You also need to consider materials and fixtures and fittings – if you want to restore a house sympathetically to its period you may end up having to spend a lot of money on reclaimed materials and vintage pieces. Think about architect fees – to solve the kind of problems that old, unique and listed buildings throw up will require the best. Once you’ve worked out how much the restoration will cost, you’ll know whether you can afford it at all and, if you can, how much you’re able to pay for the building itself.

Retaining the feel of a building

Sometimes, and especially so with particularly run-down buildings, it may be the feel of the place that draws you in more than anything else. Whether it’s the space in a vaulted barn or the light which streams in through the huge windows of an industrial building, it’s often the unique features that you just don’t get in your average house which you fall in love with. So how do you retain those features when you start installing the necessary basics of living – floors, walls, closed off rooms such as bathrooms? After all, the reason you’re putting yourself through months of blood, sweat and tears is because of those unusual architectural features. Install a mezzanine level rather than a full floor to take advantage of soaring ceiling heights and unique, original windows, leave beautiful stone walls bare, build spiral staircases rather than traditional ones to make the most of the space and to keep it open and flowing. Think outside the box and there are plenty of solutions.

Journalist and copywriter Emily Buckley is a self-confessed lover of all things vintage, quirky and unique, and that includes properties. It is her dream to lovingly restore an old building but until that time comes she’s contenting herself with writing about it, most recently in conjunction with mini excavator experts Hitachi Construction Machinery Australia.

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