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Buying a period house – the pros and cons

When you are deciding what kind of home to look for, there are so many factors to consider that it’s easy to become overwhelmed. So, if you are not sure where to start, have a look at our comparisons between old and newer properties for some inspiration to help with your house hunting.

Buying a period house – the pros and cons

Character features

A great advantage of owning an older property is that they often come with beautiful original features, like wooden beams, bay windows or open fireplaces.

Older properties are sometimes listed, or can be located in conservation areas. These properties are legally protected, and this seriously limits any potential for future development.  So, if you are looking for a property that you can extend or change in any way it is unlikely that a listed building will be the right choice for you. 

If you do choose a home in a conservation area, you will probably have fallen for its period charm, so it will be comforting to know that significant changes to every home in the neighbourhood will be restricted in order to preserve the character of the area.

Less energy efficient

Original single-glazed windows are a common feature of period property, but are not very efficient when it comes to retaining heat.  Keep in mind that planning permission for new double glazing can sometimes be difficult to obtain for character properties.  So if you want a nice warm house, you may find your energy bills are higher than for a modern dwelling of the same size.  However, you may be able to compensate for this loss of warmth by installing features like loft and cavity wall insulation, and updating your boiler system – all things that can’t be seen from the outside.

Large, mature gardens

Older properties quite often benefit from a generous garden with mature plants and trees.  If you buy a house with a large garden, you will need to consider whether you will find that maintaining it is botanic bliss or an onerous chore.

Dated Decor

When buying an older home, some properties will crop up that need a complete overhaul.  Usually, these types of properties’ prices reflect this so if you want to save money and can put in the time and energy required to undertake a project like this, you can renovate the property – refresh it and make it nice to live in, and you may be able to resell it for more than it cost you – if you can bear to part with it after all that hard work, that is.  This could help you up to the next rung on the property ladder when the time comes to move on.

Ongoing maintenance

Older homes have stood the test of time, but it is worth noting that there are structural issues that are common throughout properties of every period.  The materials they have been constructed with may have aged and require maintenance work.  When you find a home you like, employ a local chartered surveyor to inspect the property and give you a direct rundown of any problems that will need fixing.

It is always advisable to get an independent Chartered Surveyor to visit your potential new home, whatever type of property you buy.  The money you would spend on a Building Survey could pale into insignificance compared with being faced with a bill of thousands of pounds for the repair of unforeseen structural flaws that would have been flagged up in a survey, so avoiding a home survey to save some money could turn out to be a false economy.

A Unique Home

Older properties have the kind of individuality that can only be obtained through years of adding, subtracting, decorating, improving, deteriorating and making new again.  Families have lived, grown and moved on but the house is still there, waiting for its next occupants to come and care for it.  You may come across anything, from a wishing well in the garden, to other, perhaps less appealing surprises.  But at least it will never be boring.

Talk to your estate agent

The best thing you can do to help your property search is to let your estate agent know whether there is anything that you specifically require. Give them your feedback on the things you liked and disliked about the homes you have viewed and they will find it easier to send you properties that match your requirements. The better you communicate with them, the more they can help you to find the home you are looking for.

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Hannah, 09 April 2017

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