With picture-perfect properties and chocolate box cottages, the Cotswolds is brimming with stunning homes that are in need of some expert attention.
Specialists in period property renovations, Barrington Decorators is no stranger to transforming everything from listed properties to complicated cornicing. Here, director Jon Hateley, shares his top tips for renovating a period property in the Cotswolds.
The first thing to consider is if your property is listed. Listed properties need special consent from local authorities before any alterations, extensions or demolitions can take place. Get in touch with your local council or Historic England to find out.
Woodworm, damp and rot are just a few of the problems you can run into that could prove catastrophic to your renovation budget. A good survey will help identify any costly structural issues you may run into. It’s far better to find out about these things at the beginning, rather than finding out during the renovation process.
Create a sensible budget for your renovation work. Make a list of what work you want doing and get some quotes.
A good tip is to set up a spreadsheet listing all of the various aspects of the job. For example; electrical, plumbing, carpets, furniture. Be as detailed as possible, then try to determine costs for each one of the items and allow an extra 10 to 20 per cent for unseen problems. Despite everyone’s best intentions, working with older properties often throws up surprises and your budget should be prepared for this.
The truth is, no matter how well you plan, renovating a period property will probably take longer than you think. Optimism is very important but try and stay realistic.
Issues will crop up and you’ll find sometimes there is nothing you can do about it, it’s important not to panic. Always ‘expect the unexpected’ and remind yourself with these words daily. Get it printed on your coffee mug if it helps.
With the serious stuff out of the way, you can now get on to the fun bits. With period properties, much of the character is the property’s history and this is also where the value is.
The best features could be decorative cornicing, original oak floors or exposed beams and this is your opportunity to make the most of these unique features. Repair or restore wherever possible. However, proceed with caution, I’d always recommend hiring an experienced professional to offer advice or ideally, undertake the work for you.
As tempting as it may be to hire the cheapest of everything, compromising on good tradesmen would be a misplaced saving!
Working with historical and period properties is a whole different ball game. Use people who have a background working on these sorts of buildings and get references. Getting this bit right can seriously help how the project flows and the end results.
Ask yourself what you’re trying to achieve, do you want to stay true to the era, or are you looking for a more modern approach to your décor? Both modern and traditional decors can be done well, but it’s good to have a clear picture from the beginning about what you want to achieve.
If the budget allows, consider an interior designer, alternatively look for inspiration in magazines or online. Paint manufacturers such as Farrow & Ball or Mylands offer free instore advice on basic colour schemes, take advantage of this!
The windows for example are one of the biggest impact features of a period property. Replacing damaged windows for new is very expensive when sometimes a simple service and repair by an experienced tradesman can do the job and save you thousands.
Consider very carefully what actually is damaged beyond repair and what can really be saved. Try to seek good independent advice before making any big decisions.
Taking on this sort of work can be very stressful. If you’re not convinced just watch a couple of episodes of Grand Designs and witness the ordeal for yourself.
My best advice would be to take a break from living on a building site from time to time and get away from it all. Go away with the family, relax and clear your mind. You’ll come back injecting a new lease of life towards the project that everybody will feed from.
By Sophie Bird
Thursday 22 March 2018
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