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Essential tips for renovating a villa or historic home

Updated: Apr 28, 2020

The Wairarapa is full of beautiful villas and large turn of the century homes. A villa renovation is a dream for many of us, but if you are not prepared the reality can be disappointing...

1. Don’t rush it

You develop a relationship with an old home—it can take time to reveal itself to you. Spend a year living in your home planning the renovation and watching the sun as it travels through the house from season to season. This way you will know the sunniest spots—where is a good place to read a book? Where does the sun set in winter?

2. Get your budget right

Renovating an old home can be expensive—but it is worth it. There is nothing like the lustre of 100 year old floor boards and the lighting filtering through the windows into elegantly proportioned rooms. Talk to your builder, designer or architect before you start to get a ball park figure for the costs of a renovation.

3. Don’t be seduced by kerb appeal

The front of the building is always the one that grabs our attention. It is where most effort is made to keep things neat and tidy. Inside, everything will usually have a fresh coat of paint with all the blemishes covered and concealed. The back of the house is often more revealing. This is where the property is likely to have been altered or extended. Drainage may have been moved about, unsuitable modern materials may have been introduced at some point in the past. Maintenance may have been a bit less rigorous.

4. Spend money in the right places

It is important to start with the basics—old electrical wiring can be dangerous and lead to fires while faulty plumbing can erode the stability of your home over time.

Insulation and heating are critical to ensuring that your villa is liveable—good heating will not only warm you up and ensure you are comfortable it will also ensure the longevity of your home.

5. Bring in the light

Using new window and door joinery to match the old you can fill your spaces with light which will accentuate your high ceilings, wide hallways and ornate carved entranceways. Tall, elegant doors can open up the connection between inside and outside.

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