What to consider before undertaking a heritage renovation in Melbourne

There are so many benefits to renovating a heritage home. Not only is it a chance to restore all those singular and ornate elements that make your historic residence so special, you’ll have the opportunity to infuse the space with functional and contemporary features that make modern living easy.

Before you can move into your freshly restored home, there are a number of decisions you’ll need to make – many of which will need to be finalised before construction can begin. Keep reading to discover everything you should consider before undertaking a heritage home renovation.

  1. Understand the laws and regulations

Many heritage homes in Melbourne and wider Victoria are protected under local and state legislation. Of course, this is a good thing – it means heritage homes cannot be knocked down or renovated to the extent that their original character, charm and essence is gone. However, these laws can cause delays and add a level of difficulty to your build, as you’ll likely need council approval and permits for a renovation.

At Nicon Built Design + Build, we suggest getting on top of this process early, as the time it takes to obtain approval for building permits can be long and varies between councils. Make sure to do your research and understand the legislation – a great resource is the Heritage Victoria website, which provides an overview of permits and approvals and explains how heritage homes are protected through overlays in Victoria.

Your chosen builder and local council should also be able to provide advice and, where possible, walk you through the process of obtaining a building permit for a heritage renovation.

  1. Work with an expert

Renovating a heritage home requires a special touch. You need to work with an architect, designer and builder who are highly skilled and experienced in seamlessly blending modern features with heritage elements.

Ideally, you’ll chose a specialized team who have many years’ experience in restoring similar heritage homes in your local area. This also offers the opportunity for you to explore your selected builders’ completed work in person, before signing a contract. We suggest conducting extensive research to find a builder with notable experience and skill in heritage renovations.

  1. Know what you want

Do you want to radically change your home while retaining only a few elements of its history? Do you want to find a balance between contemporary and classic design? Or do you want to keep things exactly as they are, simply restoring them to their former glory?

These are the kinds of questions you must ask yourself before you begin a heritage renovation project. Having a clear goal at the start of your project will ensure you can get the most out of your renovation while achieving an exceptional end result. It’ll also make communicating your brief to your builder far easier, which is more likely to result in a stress-free build and results that exceed your expectations.

  1. Understand the cost

Many heritage homes renovations require the help of specialist subcontractors or specific materials, which can be costly to source, install or restore. Heritage homes often also require routine maintenance in order to protect the older elements of the home from wear and tear.

It’s important to understand that while a heritage home renovation may be more expensive than a traditional renovation project, these homes do have a high resale value so it can have a cost benefit in the long run. Make sure you know what you’re looking for and understand the costs involved before you begin.

  1. Be sustainable

Any renovation should stand the test of time, but it’s even more important when there’s already so much tangible history in your home. One of the best ways to do this is by integrating sustainable and eco-friendly materials that won’t harm the environment.

Heritage homes provide plenty of opportunity to reuse and recycle materials particularly, and in a time of environmental precarity, this is more important than ever. Make sure you’re wary of what you remove and discard, as there might be an innovative or inventive way to repurpose materials in your renovated heritage home. For example, old timber floorboards can make for an impressive new outdoor setting.

If you’re considering a heritage home renovation in Melbourne, get in touch with the expert team at Nicon Built Design + Build today.

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