Buying a Victorian Property? Consider this FIRST!

Victorian homes are often beautifully designed, carefully decorated and perfect for those looking for a more traditional home design. If you’ve fallen in love with the classical bathroom, the gorgeous windows and the unique exterior design, chances are not a lot will dissuade you from attempting to make it your own. However it is important to consider a number of things before jumping in and making your offer for fear of losing the property to another buyer.

Victorian properties are often beautiful and in many cases they stand well against the test of time, however if you do encounter any problems it will be hard to fix with just a few layers of glue and some elbow grease. Before entering into any negotiations it is important to request a detailed survey on your new potential house, to make sure that you won’t be forking out several thousand pounds worth of last minute repairs simply because of ‘love at first sight’.

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Roofing Repairs and Replacement
High quality Welsh slates are normally used in roofing for a Victorian home. In many cases these will be in good condition with no need for repair, however if they are in need of repair or replacement, Welsh slates are unfortunately quite expensive. You can import imitation slates from China but be prepared to pay some hefty shipping costs!

If the roof needs stripping, it is important to try to salvage as many slates as possible as unless they are cracked or delaminating they can be easily used again. More ornate roofing fixtures can be even harder to replace, so you should try everything you can to salvage these, or otherwise you may end up having to throw the fixtures away and accept your losses.

Keeping the Original Interior Designs
As is the case with any potential new home, try to imagine yourself or your family living within these walls. Traditional Victorian homes are designed with function and purpose in mind, so serving rooms such as bathrooms and kitchens are designed with minimal decoration and a plain colour pallet. Leisure based rooms are more opulent and can contain any number of decorations, so don’t be afraid to really go crazy with the designs.

If the staircase remains true to the original design, always try to repair it rather than replace it if possible as traditional authentic Victorian staircases are few and far between. You’ll even be able to figure out at what stage of the Victorian era the property was built due to the style of the balustrades; as simpler designs were the fashion for the end of the Victorian era, whereas more elaborate designs were reflective of early Victorian home designs.

Check out the Windows!
Checking the condition of the windows is incredibly important if you want to stay true to the original design of the home. Traditional Victorian windows are beautiful and full of tiny imperfections, making each window entirely unique. As with the staircase, always try to repair Victorian Windows instead of replacing them and if you find they have already been replaced, it is a good idea to try and restore them to the original window as this will add value and charm to your home.

Think about Insulation
Victorian Properties can be draughty and this will obviously cause a problem in the colder months, so it is important to start thinking ahead. Are you able to install loft insulation? Will you need planning permission to install double glazing? Is it even possible to install double glazing while retaining the original windows? All these things need to be considered if you are to make this your new home.

The Dangers of a Period or Listed Property
As with any listed property, Victorian properties are well protected and most likely you’ll need planning permission if you want to knock so much as a wall down, so you’ll want to double check that the property you are considering is structured just the way you like it.

When it comes to requesting repairs on a Victorian property, you will need a professional with specific experience in renovating and repairing Victorian properties. The same applies with requesting an initial survey on a property, as chartered surveyors with specific experience in listed properties are better equipped to assess and advise on various problems that older properties may be subject to.

If you’re satisfied that you have done all the research and you are more than happy with the Victorian property, then go ahead and make your offer. Victorian homes are gorgeous and unique homes and often bring real joy to their inhabitants; when they are solid, sound and well looked after!

Content contributed by Mike James of Chiltern Associates

Photo credit to Cindy Cornett Seigle

Caroline Engstrom

Caroline Engstrom has a passion to help landlords and tenants by providing helpful tips and advice regarding real estates.

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