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Kaley Tyne Johnson: Renovating Listed, Period, or Historic Properties

Kaley Tyne Johnson studied at the New York School of Interior Design. As a freelance interior designer, her work takes her across the globe, particularly the UK, Canada, and the US.. This article outlines the process for restoring older properties, highlighting factors to bear in mind at each step of the restoration process.

Renovating a building with a rich heritage and history can be extremely rewarding. At the same time, it can be an incredibly daunting prospect, not to mention a process that is fraught with pitfalls. With so many considerations, from planning permissions to dealing with period features, restoring older properties can be an overwhelming business.

In terms of keeping budgets in check, forward-planning is crucial, as is hiring the right professional for each aspect of the job. This article breaks down the renovation process into individual steps, exploring issues to look out for in each.

1.  The Brief

Every successful project begins with a clear brief. The developer needs to bring together their project managers, designers, and architects for an initial meeting, where the cost and feasibility of what they want to achieve can be discussed. The designer can fill the developer in on historical features that might be appropriate, such as ceiling roses or cornicing, as well as talking through differing options in terms of color pallets and materials.

Together, the team will clarify the project’s main design goals, identifying any potential hurdles. From the developer’s perspective, this is an important opportunity to discuss costs, and see whether these align with their budget before detailed designs are developed.

2.  The Design

At this stage, the designer and/or architect takes the reigns, designing concepts, along with a package of pre-construction information. The team will consider factors such as whether to property is located within a conservation area, its legal status, and whether it is protected.

In the UK, Grade I and II-listed buildings are protected by law, restricting the works that owners can carry out on them. In the UK, listed building consents, planning permissions, and license to alter agreements may be required prior to the commencement of any construction work.

3.  The Build

Every property restoration project is different, since by their very nature, period properties are idiosyncratic.

As a rule, a construction schedule usually starts with any demolitions, then the property is stripped out. It is often at this stage that any hidden surprises are revealed, such as discovering old pipework when the floorboards are taken up. When embarking on the restoration of a period property, a flexible attitude is vital. For large and costly projects, investigation is prior to the design phase is crucial, helping every party to plan ahead more accurately.

The contractors will start the building work, putting up steel or brick work to facilitate the removal of load-bearing walls; supporting new extensions; reconfiguring internal space with new doorways and stud walls; and constructing staircases, etc. After this, the ‘first fix’ starts, with installation of pipework and electrical wiring. Ceilings and walls are subsequently closed up and plastered, with cement board installed to support any tiling. The ‘second fix’ is carried out after plastering is complete, when doorframes are fitted; lights are installed; and sinks and baths are plumbed in.

4.  Completion and Snagging

Once the contractors consider their work complete, the developer and/or project manager makes a thorough inspection, ensuring that both functionality and aesthetic objectives have been achieved. The project manager should compose a snagging list of any issues that need to be resolved before final payment is sent to the contractor. Installation certificates also need to be handed over to the building owner, consisting of all FENSA, Gas Safe, and NICEIC paperwork in the UK.

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