We don’t have the exact statistics, but we’d say about 98.7% of adults have dreamed of buying an old farmhouse somewhere deep in the middle of nowhere. That’s because most people have either grown up in the countryside, got bitten by the rural bug and can’t imagine living anywhere more exciting and awesome, or they’ve lived in a hectic city for more than 7 and a half months and now want to flee the concrete, zoom past the suburbs and find themselves a large patch of the calm outdoors. It makes total sense. Thus, comes the interest in period properties.
That’s probably why the number of old farmhouses and listed-building has shot through the sky over recent years. (That and Downton Abbey / The Queen have become huge hits on Netflix). It’s that chance to call period properties home. To buy up an old building or farmhouse and turn it into your little slice of heaven is the dream rattling around quietly at the back of all our heads.
But before you dive into this world, view a bunch and snap up the prettiest of the lot, it is worth accepting there are some common problems that most period properties share. After all, you want to know what you are getting into as soon as you can and know what to look out for when assessing that dotted line.
So, without further ado, here is a list of common problems to drop into the equation:
Common Problems Plaguing All Period Properties
It only takes one syllable to sum up the worst kind of problem in period properties. That’s damp – a problem that can encourage so many more to creep out of the shadows. To put it bluntly. damp is the enemy of all buildings and the one thing that creeps up more often than not on surveys. Thankfully, there are simple-ish ways to overcome this sort of issue.
Fixing the Issues
It starts with hiring a water damage restoration company, after which a good roof, sound walls, and well-ventilated timber floors will go a long way to keeping your old house in ship shape order. Just make sure you check them regularly. That means checking the roof hasn’t suffered from nail failure, the wooden pegs haven’t been chewed up by woodworms, the lead is sound and the clay tiles are doing their job. Then backed this up with good guttering so there are no drip zones that could start to eat into your building or foundation.
When it comes to popular features in period properties, you can be sure you’ll come across some chimneys and wood burning stoves. Both of which burn at super high temperatures. We’re telling you this because you will want to check the flue is still lined, and either insulated or ventilated if you’re snapping up a thatched house. The other thing that is worth finding out is whether the flues are interconnected, which is common in a lot of old properties. If they are, you might find the fumes can creep into the other rooms. So make sure the brickwork is flawless.
Fixing Ventilation woes
If, however, you’re looking at a timber-framed home, where the wood is exposed on sides, you might also find there will be draughts. Trust us: you don’t want to be cleaning up cobwebs four months into your new life only to see the sky clearly through your cross beam joint. Although a bit of lime coarse will soon fill that in. Actually, that goes for your whole house. Make sure all your brick and stonework is pointed in lime mortar instead of cement. Not only will this prevent draughts and decay. It will stay in keeping with the old look and not ruin it with modern pointing.
Central Heating Issues
Every home these days comes with some pretty special central heating options as standard. But this wasn’t the case when your old house was constructed. They weren’t hermetically sealed to hold high internal air temperatures. They need a little air movement instead. The other thing that you need to be aware of is insulating an old property. Without doing extensive remodeling, you will not be able to meet the insulation standards of modern buildings. No way. However, there are some things you can do to improve the state of the house you are looking at without causing damaging the property’s character, original appearance or facade. You just need to ask your trusted contractor about what solutions are available to you.
Ugh. This is one of those things that can be a real pain in modern living. This is because we all rely on so many appliances and devices. Older houses may struggle to cope with this. The point is: good wiring is an absolute must-have. You need to ensure that the wiring in the period properties your looking at are up to date. Also, make sure they are compliant with the most recent regulations. You will also want to be proactive about maintaining it. Have a certified electrician come out and check it at least every five years, but preferably every three. This isn’t just to make sure your house is working effectively. It is because a lot of insurance companies require it, especially in timber-framed and thatched houses. It’s a matter of safety.
Wash In Lime
One of the big trends that used to be, especially in stone cottages and farmhouses, was to use old lime washing techniques under the eaves where the stonework was exposed. Yes, it looks like fifty shades of lovely. However, it was never intended to be shown in the kind of way that it is these days. It was simply the interior design fashion of the day. By which we mean the 19th Century and, even the early 20th. Thankfully, more and more owners of period properties are being allowed to limewash their old house. This is a means to protect and preserve the external walls. We have a friend that did this recently. It saved them tens of thousands of dollars on what would have been pretty pricey stonework repairs.