Renovating a Period Property? Here’s What You Need to Know

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This is a collaborative post.

Approximately 20 percent of UK homes were built before 1919, with a further 16 percent built between 1919 and 1944. That is a significant number of older properties, so chances are you will end up living in a home built several decades ago at least once in your lifetime.

Most older homes are located in towns and cities. Victorian terraces, Georgian townhouses, and 1930s semis are all very common – and often more affordable than modern homes built on large residential estates. Such homes offer several advantages: they have more square footage of space compared to modern properties, they often come with large gardens, and the larger rooms with high ceilings are well suited to family life. If you have recently bought a period property, read on for some renovation tips.

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Damp Issues

Damp is a common issue with older properties. It wasn’t until the latter half of the 20th century that polymer membranes were used to control rising damp. Before that time, damp was less of a problem thanks to ample ventilation in draughty older houses.

These days, modern UPVC windows and the removal of suspended timber floors can lead to serious rising damp issues. This is one of the first things you should look for when purchasing an older property. Check walls downstairs for evidence of damp and organise a damp survey to verify the cause.

It may be necessary to inject a chemical damp-proof course into the brickwork, remove rotten timbers, and more. All this work is disruptive and should be tackled before other works take place.


Organise an Electrical Inspection Condition Report (EICR) to test all the electrical circuits in the property. Older homes often have poor electrics with a mix of old and new wiring. Dangerous electrical installations are a leading cause of house fires, so this is something you can’t afford to ignore.

If you need to update the electrics, it is a useful opportunity to add extra outlets, which are often in short supply in older homes that pre-date technology such as computers and smartphones.


When renovating a period home, you can choose décor in keeping with the era the home was built or go with something more modern. Often it will depend on how many period features such as cast-iron fireplaces and plaster cornices remain.

If you have beautiful fireplaces and hardwood floors in good condition, it makes sense to maximise these. Polish the fireplaces and strip and varnish the floors. Make the most of gorgeous spindle staircases by fitting stair runners and brass stair rods. Highlight your decorative ceiling roses with glamorous chandeliers. Not every home is blessed with such features, so if you are lucky enough to have a genuine cast iron fireplace and original staircase, show them off!

Visit local salvage yards and see what you can find if you are renovating a period property. It’s usually easy to source cast-iron fireplaces and there are experts out there who can recreate decorative plasterwork and other period features.

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