Renovating an old house: how to do the best job

If you’ve just bought an old house in need of some TLC, there is a range of aspects that it is necessary to consider in order to renovate the property; aspects such as any covenants regarding the overall character of the building that must be kept to and the all-important price of renovation.

Exceptionally large sash window in an old pub ...

Image Credit: BigSashWindowBromyard

1. Taking care of the exterior

When looking at the exterior of an old house, it is vital that any changes made necessary due to the natural degradation of the materials used are done sympathetically to the overall design. For example, replacing the original wooden vertical sliding windows with stark white modern uPVC models is not going to suit the property and may well knock a good deal of value from the property in the long run.

The idea of replacing like with like, on the other hand, is often not completely sensible either. Old sash windows are often not very energy efficient and can be difficult to maintain. Upgrading and replacing these vertical sliding windows with modern windows that look vintage is thankfully not as difficult as it once was, as manufacturers are waking up to the fact that people may want newer window technology, but don’t want their windows to look stark and new.

2. On the inside

Once you have taken care of elements such as your vertical sliding windows, it is wise to think about the inside and what needs to be brought up to scratch here. A top tip when renovating is to not scrimp on the cost of materials. It’s like your granddad used to say, “Buy cheap, buy twice” as often, cheap own brand emulsion will not quite have the same finish as the better quality equivalents and cheap screws and nails fail more readily than the alternatives. Whilst it is not necessarily new advice, it is most definitely sensible advice.

3. Look to find some reclaimed materials

Reclamation yards have sprung up all over the country, allowing people to find top quality reclaimed furniture and fittings from house clearances. No matter what you are looking for, if it is original and old, a great place to begin your search is one of these Aladdin’s caves full of unwanted, but often top quality materials.

Whilst the popularity of reclamation yards may have helped to push up their prices in recent years, they are often amongst the best places to find old or original materials. Other great places to look for original fittings and fixtures include flea markets or second hand furniture shops. Moving online, sites such as eBay can have some great finds, but be careful with postage costs. It may be worth trying to find a seller who is local to you, so you can collect the items yourself.

When renovating a property, keep as much of the feel of the original house as you can, including replacing vertical sliding windows with similar modern equivalents. Ensure that you do not scrimp on any materials and look high and low for vintage materials at reclamation yards.

AUTHOR BIO: Rob Smith has written many articles on home renovation for websites such as When he’s not at his computer, Rob can often be found cycling and pretending he’s part of the peloton at the Tour de France.

Erin Emanuel