Ultimate Guide to a Heritage House Restoration in Sydney

Restoring a heritage-listed house is different from renovating or remodelling an ordinary home. Unlike the latter, when you want to undergo a heritage house restoration, you are not free to change, remove, or add anything you like. It will be a longer, more challenging, and more expensive process.


However, even though the restoration process is more challenging, it will be worth it in the end. Heritage houses are important in society, as they reflect the history and culture of the older generations that will become education and treasure in the future.


Because of this, we can understand why a local council may require a stricter policy for a heritage house restoration. But what’s in it for you is that you’ll have a house that will be a great conversation starter and an investment that will sell like a pancake in the future. 


Do You Own a Heritage Property?


A heritage property is any building with historical value in society. The criteria to determine if a property is heritage-listed varies from one place to another.


New South Wales has two types of heritage listings: conservation areas and heritage items. A house or a building falls under the heritage items category. 


According to environment.nsw.gov.au, for your property to be considered to have a state heritage significance, it should fall under two of the following criteria:


  • an item is important in the course, or pattern, of NSW’s cultural or natural history
  • an item has strong or special association with the life or works of a person, or group of persons, of importance in NSW’s cultural or natural history
  • an item is important in demonstrating aesthetic characteristics and/or a high degree of creative or technical achievement in NSW
  • an item has strong or special association with a particular community or cultural group in NSW for social, cultural or spiritual reasons
  • an item has potential to yield information that will contribute to an understanding of NSW’s cultural or natural history
  • an item possesses uncommon, rare or endangered aspects of NSW’s cultural or natural history
  • an item is important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a class of NSW’s cultural or natural places, or cultural or natural environments.


How Much Does a Heritage House Restoration Cost?


According to Hipages, renovating an old or a heritage house may range from $3000 to $100000, depending on labour, materials, and other factors. Generally, it may cost more than the renovation of an average home because of all the unique work that workers must do. 


Also read: 4 Best Tips on How to Restore an Old House and Save Money


Heritage house restoration is more challenging because of the following issues: 


  • Utility systems upgrade (HVAC, water, electricity)
  • Foundation or structural repair or replacement
  • Termite damage repair
  • Removal of toxic materials (radon, asbestos, lead)
  • Floor and roof upgrade or replacement
  • Load bearing walls


Besides these issues, you should also consider the budget you need for sourcing suitable materials to restore a heritage home. It can be more expensive if the materials are rare and hard to find. You might also need to hire a local historian, researcher, or architect to learn more about your house. 


Are Heritage Houses Worth More?


According to the Productivity Commission, being in the heritage property listing adds an additional 12% of its market value. Also, heritage properties can attract higher resale values, according to environment.nsw.gov.au. 


Besides the monetary benefit, living and maintaining a heritage home is a privilege and a feather in your cap. Imagine the curiosity and awe your visitors will feel. 


How Do You Modernise a Heritage House?


As long as you adhere to the local regulations about renovating a heritage house, you can renovate your property to make it suitable for modern living.


Besides the local restrictions, the house’s structure may also limit how modern you can go. You have to work around it if you want to maintain its beauty and character. If you insist on adding modern features, building a new house is a better choice for you instead of buying and restoring a heritage home. 


Here’s what you need to remember if you want to modernise a heritage home:


  • Learn the regulations from the local council on what you can or cannot do to your house.
  • Don’t add many modern elements that will clash with the beauty and character of your property.  
  • Replace the old parts with newer but the same kind rather than use contemporary but different materials. For example, if your doors are made from waxed pines, replace them with newer ones made from the same materials.
  • After repairs, modernise the bathrooms and kitchens next, because these areas consume water and electricity more often. 
  • If your local council only permits significant renovation on the back parts of your property, take this opportunity to modernise the back room by turning it into an open plan. 

Also read: 5 Key Elements That Make a Victorian-Style Home


What Do You Need to Know Before the Restoration of Your Heritage Home?


Familiarise yourself with your property. Learn about the architecture of houses during the period when it was built. Your knowledge about the house will pay off as you shop for the materials needed to restore your heritage house. It will also help your builders preserve the character that should be maintained in the house.


Also, you want to avoid adding historically inaccurate materials to your home. It will destroy what you’ve been trying hard to preserve in a heritage house restoration.  


Don’t DIY

DIY might cause further problems that will add to the restoration cost, making it more expensive. Also, you’ll be risking your family’s health with toxic materials if you remove them the wrong way or if you miss removing all of them. 


Heritage house restoration is a complex job, as there are a lot of complicated tasks that only professional builders can accomplish. They have the right tools, expertise, and materials. 


How to Find the Right Builders to Work on Your Heritage House?


Because undergoing a heritage house restoration is an expensive investment, you can’t just hire anyone for the job. The right builders should have the following:

  • Experience
  • Expertise
  • License
  • Portfolio
  • Customer reviews

If you own a heritage house and are looking for restoration services, request a quote now!

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