Everything you need to know before taking on an older property

Semi-detached house and garden in Pinner, an affluent London suburb

Period properties can offer some beautiful features, including tall ceilings and bundles of character, as well as the potential to add value by extending and/or renovating. However, since taking on an older property can be a time-consuming and costly process, it’s very important to think carefully before deciding to take on an older property.

At Stuart & Moffat, we have worked with many different property types over the years and have found older properties to be the ones most homeowners feel caught out on when it comes to maintenance. So we’ve put together a few things we believe people should know before taking on an older property, ending with specific ways we can help make this process smoother for you going forward. 

Count on needing to update the property’s insulation

As a general rule of thumb, in order to insulate an older property you need to either heat it from the outside, using external insulation, or from the inside with dry lining. 

External insulation involves fitting a layer to the outside of the property and covering it with a weatherproof finish. This is the most practical solution and also means you don’t have to change or update any internal features. However, in doing this you would lose a lot of the property’s external character – which is something you’ll want to avoid at all costs! 

Dry lining the internal walls, on the other hand, will maintain the external look. It involves fixing plasterboard to the walls, which will make them a little thicker and more effective at retaining heat.

Ensuring the property’s roof is well insulated should be a top priority for any homeowner – this includes having good physical insulation material but also making sure the shingles and roof membranes are in good condition and are not letting in any unwelcome draughts. 

Check the drainage on an older property

Older buildings were usually built using clay drains. Clay pipes are made up of short lengths pushed together and, over time, the joints can open up and cause leaks. This leakage will deteriorate the bearing capacity of the ground, which can then cause your building to crack and subside. 

For this reason, it’s always worth asking a professional to check whether the period property you’re interested in buying has clay pipes. If it does, it’s essential to replace them with modern PVC ones, even if they seem to be in good condition.

Being roof specialists, we highly recommend making sure the drainage, as well as the foundation of the property, is completely sound as good roof drainage relies on such things to avoid pooling and other damaging issues. 

Consider the investment value

If you’re willing to put in the time and effort, then you’re far more likely to increase the value of an old property that needs a lot of care and attention. When you buy a house that’s already in a reasonable condition, you may save time in personalising it to your own taste at the outset, but you won’t be doing your future self as big a favour when it comes to finally selling the property.

With large investments like old properties, it’s important to make sure you buy with your head as well as your heart to make the most of the potential in front of you. 

Get an expert’s opinion 

If well looked after, your roof can have a long life span, even if the property itself is quite old.

To ensure this, we encourage our customers to be proactive with roofing maintenance. 

We offer Roofing Maintenance Plans to our residential and commercial customers. This allows us to visit your property annually to carry out repairs, essential maintenance, photographic reports to all areas of your roof, and additional points such as roofline & guttering.

Get in touch with our expert team for more information. 

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