At Houghton Construction, we are often called upon when our clients either buy or inherit a period property and wish not only to restore it to its former glory but also to make the property “their own”.
Understandably, they want to restore many of the period features but they also want the house to be cosy and comfortable to live in and to meet modern standards of energy efficiency. Our challenge is to restore the character of the period but often also to transform a derelict rundown and unloved building into the “home of their dreams”.
In this month’s case study, we feature Mrs James from Bloxham.
Mrs James bought a neglected property, which had fallen into disrepair. The full building survey had indicated that there were some urgent repairs necessary to the roof. Missing lead flashing was already causing leaks and the property had rising damp and penetrative damp on the internal walls. The property was also infested with death watch beetle. Fortunately, with the survey, they knew exactly what they were undertaking and the sale price reflected that there was substantial remedial work to do.
The new owners had another property in which they were living and so once we had agreed the plans of the renovation and were ready to start work, they were happy to trust us with the keys so we could come and go at all times to meet their tight time frames.
We never forget that we are not just working on a building but actually we are turning dreams into realities for our clients and we knew that this property will become the couple’s forever home.
We brought in specialist partners to eradicate the death watch beetle issues and removed the damp walls. The complete project from minor groundworks to roof repairs included upgraded insulation and damp proofing throughout.
We laid brand new oak floors upstairs and installed new heating with beautiful cast-iron right radiators chosen to suit the period. The old windows were tired and rotten so we fitted like-for-like bespoke timber casement windows that looked identical to the old windows but perform to modern standards. We also installed a bespoke double glazed utility door, which resembles a split stable door but is highly energy efficient. In fact, we improved the U-value (the measurement of thermal transmittance) of the “new” windows and doors by more than 50%.
We also upgraded and updated the insulation in the loft space and used eco liner plasterboard on the walls. Downstairs, we installed modern underfloor heating before laying a beautiful and classic limestone tiling flooring. In the sitting room, we laid granite-effect tiles on the floor and installed a beautiful old log burner and lined the fireplace with sandstone.
In period property projects, we often find “hidden gems”, where period features have been covered over or previous alterations have been made that didn’t always suit or enhance the property. For example, on the first floor, we encountered an internal stud wall that didn’t offer any real benefit so we removed it and released extra floor space adding a lighter and airy feel to the room.
We also uncovered the old chimney breast so we could fully restore this previously hidden period feature. Similarly, the old steels had been plaster boarded to hide them. We removed the plasterboard and, instead, we lined these steels with beautiful oak so that these supports now resemble traditional old oak beams. There was also a solid old oak truss, which we sanded down, treated and turned into a feature.
In the bedrooms, our carpenters created practical but beautiful shelving and cupboards. In bedroom three, we built a bespoke desk, shelving and cabinetry to turn it into a fully functional period study. We also created a landing cupboard for towels and bedding etc and throughout the house we replaced all of the architraves and the skirting.
All of the electrics were upgraded to modern building regulations but with rustic period lighting fittings to maintain the period appearance. We also seamlessly installed “invisible” Cat5 cabling to deliver high-speed internet access.
Mrs James was delighted with the renovation and said:
“Houghton Construction’s design suggestions were really impressive. They understood the complexities of modernising a rundown cottage without removing its soul and character. They made this house work for us by adding underfloor heating, modern computer cabling, and properly insulating it to modern standards without compromising on the period restoration. In fact, by uncovering period features and creating new bespoke carpentry in keeping with the period, they have added to the character of the building. They have brought our cottage back to life and helped us to create our new home.”
“We would certainly recommend Houghton Construction for your period property restoration project!”