Older Property Renovation – Some Survival Tips

When it comes to a period property, the heart can easily overrule the brain. How many of us have seen a down-at-heel property dating back to the 19th century and fallen instantly in love before we have even walked through the door?


The problem is, it is all too easy to approach a proposition like this with rose tinted glasses, seeing all the potential and practically ignoring the huge gulf between what it is and what it could be.

If you have bought or inherited the “opportunity of a lifetime” here are some tips to prevent the dream from descending into the realms of nightmare.

Tackle the messiest jobs first

Try to get the demolition jobs done at the outset, particularly if you are intending to live in the house throughout the renovation project. Otherwise, you will find yourself in a constant cycle of cleaning plaster and dust from eating utensils, bed linen and yourself. It is easy to  end up spending more time on cleaning than anything else.

Get the basics in place

Whether you are planning on living in full-time or not, you will be spending a huge number of hours in the property, and that means some basic comforts need to be in place. Prioritise running water, so that you can have tea and coffee breaks and make sure one of your first purchases is one of the toilets from Better Bathrooms – the rest of the bathroom can be put in later.

Have a flexible approach

Again, this is particularly important if you are living “on site” throughout the renovation. You will find yourself needing to relocate your bedroom, living room and perhaps even kitchen from one room to another as the project progresses. This means minimal furniture for minimal upheaval, and even more importantly, a flexible attitude.

You also need to be flexible in your approach to the overall project. Whatever you think it will take in terms of time and money, it is guaranteed that unexpected obstacles will arise and it will take longer and cost more.

Take time out 

It is easy to become so engrossed that every spare moment is spent on the project, to the exclusion of everything else in life. All this achieves is burnout. You will end up tired, stressed and taking no enjoyment from what has become a chore.

The quality of the work will suffer, as will family relationships as everyone becomes jaded and edgy. Taking the odd weekend completely away from it works wonders to restore a sense of perspective and recharge batteries, allowing you to return to the project with renewed enthusiasm and vigour.

Call in help when you need it

Last but not least, it is true that anyone can learn to do anything, but don’t feel that using professionals on a particular job is “cheating.” For example, plastering is one of those jobs that looks easy when you see an expert do it, but actually takes time and practice.

You might just find that attempting to do it yourself costs more in terms of mental and financial resources, all to achieve a result that is vastly inferior to that of a professional.