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Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

Home Improvement Tips for Renovating an Old House:

Are you renovating soon?
By Expert Tips
Date: July 30 2019
Editor Rating:
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Buying a classic home to renovate can be a rewarding process, but there are a few issues you may face along the way. We have highlighted a few common problems along with the methods of how to solve them before starting your project.

Get the Inspectors In

Before doing any work in an old house, you will want to know what problems there are and how best to fix them. Get a skilled inspector in that can check over the property thoroughly to highlight any current issues and show you where you may have problems in the future. Use an authorised inspector to ensure you are getting good advice as this will pay dividends during your renovations and decorating stages. An inspection should cover the roof, plumbing, electrical, issues with damp and the foundations to give you a clear view of what needs attention.

Where to Start

The best way to proceed before undertaking any major restoration is to make sure your roof and foundations are in good order. Get an inspector to check for damp and termites so you are aware of any issues before wasting valuable time and money on work that will need to be changed later. Renovating and remodelling a home is a great job, but you want to know that your labour won’t go to waste due to poor planning. 

A good renovation project is done with sympathy for the original features in the property, and care should be taken to try to preserve those features that give the home character. If you are unable to save these signature features, try looking for traditional style pieces such as windows, doors, floors and fittings. These are the areas that stand out the most on older homes, and every effort should be made to keep that theme throughout your renovation. 

Roof Renovations

The roof is an integral part of your home, which needs regular checks and maintenance. Leaving those issues and letting them exacerbate can lead to a mountain of problems in the future. Some of the most common roof problems include missing or broken shingles, damaged flashing, bad facias, poor ventilation and membrane issues. You may need to get a professional in to fix these problems as you want to make sure the roof is in the best condition. 

If you are doing a traditional home restoration, you should try to use shingles that match the current ones along with using traditional styles facias to keep the home looking like it did when it was built. You can use refurbished facias and guttering or look at getting classically styled pieces to keep the aesthetic you want. 

Fixing Damp Problems

Damp issues can spread like wildfire if not fixed quickly. You can fix some problems, such as leaks, but some may need a professional. Damp can come up from the ground, through the walls and roof or arise through poor ventilation. If your damp issues are coming from the ground, you should get a qualified individual who will add a damp course to your building, stopping the damp from spreading. 

Ventilation issues can be fixed with extractor fans to suck out moist air or by adding a window to allow clean air to pass through the rooms. Once you have fixed the damp issues, you should get a dehumidifier in the affected places to help speed up the drying process. Damp problems can cause terrible damage, but if caught early, you should still be able to fix it and have an excellent platform to start your renovation work.

Removing Asbestos

In many older homes, the use of asbestos as cheap fire-retardant insulation was common until the dangers of asbestos fibres to humans were discovered. There are regulations regarding the removal of asbestos, and you should always get skilled people to undertake this. You will need a licensed asbestos professional unless removing less than ten square meters, but we believe you should still get advice before attempting this yourself. 

Asbestos only became outlawed in Australia in 2003, so any properties older than this may have it. It will only cause problems if it is broken up, releasing the fibres that you can inhale; and potential side effects from this are not generally detected for many years. A skilled tradesperson will remove the asbestos without damaging your home’s classic features, leaving you with a healthy home that still maintains its traditional qualities. 

Termite Issues

One of the most common issues in older homes is termite infestations. Unless treated, termites can devour a wooden structure, causing it to collapse. Many of the older wooden buildings we see are architecturally beautiful and need to be preserved when possible. The most common problem is white ants that burrow up from the ground and start eating away at the framework. You can get your buildings treated to prevent this and kill any infestation off. 

You will also need to use preventive measures such as metal flashing and concrete slabs around the buildings, and there is also a chemical deterrent that will keep termites at bay. We advise treating all wooden structures on your property before starting any renovation work to ensure a healthy building. Many termite infestations can be cured and still leave the original woodwork in place is you act fast before the bugs have their way.

Ready to Renovate

Many homes will not suffer from all the problems above, so don’t be disheartened. Buying classic homes and fixing them up is a great family project and can lead to an excellent investment. Get everything inspected before starting and fix any issues highlighted. Once you have a sound building, you can begin to work your magic with a sympathetic renovation that will not only look great but be able to stand for another hundred years.

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