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Historic Home Renovations: DIY Dream or a Project For Professionals?

Historic homes are making a comeback, and it's not just about nostalgia—it's a rebellion against cookie-cutter conformity. In an age where every new build looks like a clone of the next, people are craving authenticity. Period homes offer a glimpse into the past, a connection to a time when craftsmanship mattered and each detail told a story. They're a reminder of our roots, a nod to the generations who came before us. But it's more than just aesthetics—there's a romance to these homes, a sense of mystery that modern houses can't replicate. It's no wonder they're all over social media, where people are hungry for something real in a world that often feels artificial. Are people trying to live their Saltburn fantasy? Maybe. But more than that, they're reclaiming a piece of history and making it their own.


In a world where modern minimalist design reigns supreme, with its sleek lines, open-plan interiors, and expansive windows, there's a growing appreciation for the timeless charm and character of historic homes. There's a palpable allure to older homes' rich history and architectural splendour. Yet, renovating a historic property poses its own set of challenges, chief among them being the preservation of its soul. As homeowners increasingly seek to breathe new life into these historic gems, striking a delicate balance between modern comforts and the preservation of original features becomes paramount.

Renovating a period property is often romanticised as a DIY adventure filled with charm and character. However, the reality is far from the picturesque scenes we envision. Many homeowners embarking on such projects quickly encounter unexpected surprises that can derail even the most diligently planned renovation. It's a common tale: a young couple, brimming with enthusiasm, begins their journey to transform a historic home into their dream abode and of course, they’re taking us along for the ride via their Instagram account. Yet, as they peel back the layers of time, they uncover hidden complexities lurking within the walls. Perhaps they stumble upon a long-forgotten secret room concealed behind a plastered wall or unwittingly damage a delicate sash window worn by years of use. After seeing posts of these setbacks from DIY influencers I can’t help but wonder “Is doing it yourself worth it?”.

Renovating a period home is no small feat; it's a labour-intensive endeavour that requires dedication, skill, and perseverance. From stripping away layers of old wallpaper to sanding down centuries-old floorboards, each task presents its own set of challenges. Walls may need to be re-plastered, ceilings repaired, and floors refinished. The process of refurbishing original fixtures, such as vintage light fittings and antique hardware, can be both time-consuming and physically demanding. Add to this the heavy lifting of materials and equipment, and it becomes clear that DIY renovating a period home is not for the faint of heart. I couldn’t think of anything worse but some find true joy in rolling up their sleeves and getting to the slug and toil of it. But no matter how enthusiastic and determined they are, there are some features of period properties that need to be left to the experts.

House renovation

Victorian and Edwardian homes, some over a century old, and Georgian properties, dating back to nearly 200 years, require careful consideration and expertise. These homes may have undergone multiple renovations, potentially leading to additional complications if the work was not executed to a high standard. Moreover, period properties often fall under specific regulations governing renovation efforts. It is essential to consult with local authorities before commencing any work, as failure to obtain the necessary permissions can result in legal repercussions. Seeking guidance from specialists in historic preservation and restoration is paramount. These professionals possess the knowledge and experience to navigate the complexities of renovating period properties while preserving their unique heritage and architectural integrity.

By enlisting the expertise of specialists, homeowners can ensure that their renovation projects are conducted with precision, respect for history, and compliance with regulatory requirements. Set aside the DIY ego and bring in the professionals. I promise site surveys are really not that fun! At Hartts we pride ourselves on our extensive network of experts, including specialists in historic preservation and restoration to ensure that every detail of a historic renovation is executed with the highest level of expertise and precision.

Victorian home

Navigating the intricate world of historic home renovations requires a blend of creativity, expertise, and careful planning. Once homeowners understand the factors and obstacles involved in renovating period properties, they can begin to explore practical strategies for preserving their historical integrity while enhancing their liveability for modern-day living. One key aspect to consider is identifying and preserving original architectural features. From ornate mouldings to vintage hardware, these elements contribute to the character and charm of period homes and should be safeguarded whenever possible. Professional preservationists can offer invaluable insights into how best to restore and maintain these features, ensuring they remain a focal point of the property's design. Preservation experts often employ specialised techniques and materials to ensure the longevity of original architectural elements. For instance, delicate plasterwork may be reinforced with modern additives to prevent deterioration, while traditional wood finishes can be enhanced with protective coatings to withstand the test of time. By combining traditional craftsmanship with contemporary restoration practices homeowners can ensure that their historic home retains its authentic character while meeting modern standards of durability and performance.

DIY influencers often neglect to mention the countless hours and failed attempts that led them to their seemingly flawless results. You need to fully understand the complexity of the process to ensure you know the effort, time, and skills required for these tasks. DIY projects on social media are typically edited to showcase only the highlights, omitting the frustrations, setbacks, and sometimes costly mistakes involved. Moreover, the absence of professional guidance can lead to disappointing results. Without the appropriate skills, tools, and knowledge, your envisioned masterpiece may be disastrous. Before you start knocking walls down and scraping wallpaper, it's crucial to call a professional. Safety should always come first; an expert can provide invaluable insights and ensure your project is executed correctly.

Here is a historic checklist we have compiled that we would recommend ticking off with experts:

  • Structural Integrity Check: Hire a structural engineer to assess the foundation, walls, and roof of your home for any signs of wear or damage.

  • Electrical Wiring Assessment: Consult with a certified electrician to evaluate the electrical wiring of your home and ensure it meets current safety standards.

  • Plumbing and Drainage Inspection: Enlist the services of a qualified plumber to inspect the plumbing and drainage systems of your home for leaks, blockages, or outdated components.

  • Historical Documentation Gathering: Seek assistance from local historians or preservation specialists to gather historical documentation and records about your property.

  • Building Permit Acquisition: Work with a building permit consultant or architect to navigate the permit application process and ensure compliance with local regulations.

  • Conservation Consultation: Collaborate with preservation architects or consultants who specialise in historic preservation to assess the historical significance of your property and develop conservation strategies.

  • Environmental Impact Consideration: Consult with sustainability experts or green building consultants to explore eco-friendly materials and energy-efficient solutions for your renovation project.

  • Budget and Timeline Planning: Consider hiring a project manager or renovation planner to help develop a realistic budget and timeline for your historic home renovation.

  • Contractor Selection Process: Research and vet reputable contractors and tradespeople with experience in renovating historic homes. Consider consulting with preservation contractors or specialists for specialised work.

  • Safety Precautions Implementation: Work with a health and safety consultant or contractor to implement proper safety measures, including ventilation, dust containment, and hazard identification, throughout your DIY renovation project.

Renovating a historic home can be an enriching experience, blending the preservation of cultural heritage with the comfort of modern living or the most expensive dust-filled nightmare you’ll ever have. That's where Hartts Construction steps in. We thrive on the nitty-gritty details, managing everything from structural assessments to coordinating tradesmen, so you don't have to. With our project management expertise and live updates through our management systems, you can relax knowing your renovation is in capable hands. Hartts Construction is dedicated to helping homeowners navigate this intricate process and working with us also means having access to our professional network. Our expertise in historical preservation and modern renovation techniques ensures your project is handled with the utmost care and professionalism.

Orangery hone extension

Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you in bringing your historic home renovation dreams to life, creating a secure and beautiful living space for generations to come.


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