Friday 18 October 2019

Dos and don'ts of a period refurb

Dining room in Malahide. Photo: Richard Hatch Photography
Dining room in Malahide. Photo: Richard Hatch Photography Newsdesk Newsdesk

1. Do be realistic about timescale: A period refurb is likely to require more bespoke fittings than a standard project, and these take longer to make than off-the-shelf products, all of which adds to a schedule. Think two years from conception to unpacking your china again.

2. Do spend enough time at the design stage :Tweaks and changes to your design when you're already on site will incur extra costs. And remember the devil is in the detail. Think through everything from window accessories to taps at the outset.

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3. Do employ a quantity surveyor: "It's an absolute no brainer," says Gareth. And will save you money in the long run.

4. Do engage with your planners: Do this before you submit your application, if possible, so they can give you feedback on any potential problems. If your house is a protected structure, you will need to submit a conservation report. Conferring ahead of time will smooth your planning process.

5. Don't underestimate the cost: Budget is a huge factor with a period house. There's a buy-in cost. "For example, you couldn't put PVC windows into a period house," says Gareth, "it would destroy it". Spend money on getting the bones of the place right, the fundamentals such as windows and floors. You can always upgrade your bathrooms or other fittings later when you have the funds.

6. Don't forget that period houses are notoriously full of unpleasant surprises: We're talking about rising damp, dry rot, crumbling pipes... so do opening up works before you go out to tender. That's so you have some idea of what may be in store and its potential cost. Always, always have a contingency fund of at least 10pc of the overall budget. A substantial refurb will cost towards the higher end of between €2,000 and €2,500 per sqm.

7. Do carry through materials from the old part of the house to the new, even if you use them in different styles: In the above project, the period windows and doors were painted white, while the newer ones were in black - but all the windows were made by the same joiner, Fitzpatrick & Henry.

8. Do match ceiling heights in the old and new parts so that the one doesn't overwhelm the other: In this project, the high ceilings that were such a feature of the Edwardian reception rooms were repeated in the extension to the rear, giving both parts equal weighting.

9. Don't allow the new extension to replace the original house: Upgrade the fabric of the old house so it is as comfortable and draught-free as the new, otherwise you risk it becoming a "glorified corridor".

10. Don't leave the garden design until last: The garden forms the outside of your house, and so is a key part of a restoration. Allocate costs to hard landscaping, planting, etc, in your original budget and don't be tempted to dip into it.

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