Is it listed?
Many older buildings on the property market in Cornwall are Grade II listed, meaning they have been assessed as being of particular historical or architectural interest. Renovating a listed building is not impossible, but it is more difficult to get planning consent, and the council will rule in favour of preserving the character of the building. Some period properties are not listed but are situated within conservation areas, which means any alterations you are considering would need to be sensitive to the historic setting.
Is it structurally sound?
Before you can even begin to think about renovating the kitchen or modernising the bathroom, you’ll need to make sure the property is structurally sound. Depending on its condition, this may cost more than you expect. Get a comprehensive survey to check the roof, gutters, drains, and electrics. If the property has clay pipes you will likely need to replace them with modern PVC ones to avoid future leakage issues that may cause subsidence. Don’t forget to ask the vendor about insulation (older houses can get very draughty in the winter!) and check whether the house has been underpinned – if not, you may need to factor in these additional costs before you make an offer.
Will its quirks still be charming in 10-15 years’ time?
Original timber beams are visually stunning, but they may soon lose their appeal if you have to duck every time you enter the living room to avoid a head injury. Sash windows look fabulous, but without double glazing they may let in traffic noise and draught. When you view your dream property, try to look beyond the initial ‘wow’ factor and consider the long-term practicalities. Consider that you may need to lose some of the historic features (or at least rebuild and relocate them) during the process of insulating and modernising your new home. A local specialist should be able to advise you about the best ways of preserving features such as floors, cornicing, fireplaces, and staircases.
Can you afford to run it?
Older houses are often fairly energy inefficient – ask the vendor for a breakdown of the average monthly bills and factor this into your budget. Check whether there is potential for installing greener energy alternatives that will lower your bills without impacting the character of the property.
The good news about purchasing a period property is that it will likely retain its value – demand for character homes remains consistent and immune to changing trends. A 2018 survey carried out by Discount Flooring Depot found that 82% of UK adults would prefer to buy a period property rather than a new build. If you are searching for your perfect home, Lillicrap Chilcott offers expert advice and professional service. Contact us today for more information.