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Home Renovations: Older homes

When it comes to home renovations, Perth is primed with older character homes looking to be revamped and rejuvenated. While building a new home can be a rewarding and exciting experience, the same can also be said for breathing new life into a tired home with lots of character.

While the process of renovating an older home can be very similar to renovating a modern house, with an older home you may come across some unique features that may require a little more attention to detail.

If you are looking to renovate an older home, the advice outlined in our complete guide to renovating will still be relevant and useful to you. However, there are just a few extra elements we would like to cover in this guide specifically related to renovating older homes:

House structure

While some older homes are built to last and generally have a sturdy structure and foundations, other may not have quite lasted the distance and have major structural issues. This can also be true for newer houses, although you can find that repairing any structural defects with an older house can take a little more time and money. Advances in building techniques and changes to material may mean that some renovations can take a more ‘think outside the square approach’ to get the old to work in with the new.

Character homes will often be constructed via different building methods. As character renovation specialists, Exactus Homes has the experience to marry old school construction methods with new school techniques ensuring a smooth transition from old to new.

Plumbing and Electrical

Out-dated pipes and wiring is also a common problem in older houses. Galvanised pipes were commonly used in early eras and can often be found badly corroded or in poor condition.

Electrical wiring in an older home can also be found in poor and even dangerous condition. Old wiring can be hazardous and no longer compliant to today’s electrical safety standards.

While renovating, it is always advisable to check the condition of the pipes and wiring at the same time as you check the structural condition of the home to know if they need updating throughout the renovation. It is best to bring your electrical system up to standard well before commencing any additional construction work.


Asbestos can be harmless if left undisturbed, but the minute the material is touched, scrapped, cut up or moved it can become very hazardous and even deadly. Asbestos was often used as wall and floor sheeting in older homes but can also be found in other unsuspecting places such as ductwork and eaves.

If there is asbestos present in the house and there is even the slightest chance the product will be disturbed during the renovation process, then it is advisable to have it removed and disposed of. Personal safety is the priority with every single home improvement project.

There are professional companies that will test for asbestos and remove the material if found. This is one job you cannot do yourself.

Lead paint

Lead paint is another hidden nasty that is readily found in older homes. While you can test for lead paint yourself, if found it does pay to get a professional to remove all traces of it to avoid contracting lead poisoning or any other health issues.

Compatibility issues

Just like pipes and wiring, building materials can also become out-dated. Building techniques change and become more advanced, as too do changes to standard sizing. This means that sometimes when trying to match up old with new the two worlds collide and there may be elements of your renovation that are incompatible with what you want to achieve.

Not only do the material and techniques change, but our lifestyle also changes and with it our house designs. You may find your older home has smaller rooms, pokey bathrooms and weird layouts that don’t quite work with our lifestyle today. It’s simply because they weren’t built to suit our lifestyles. This could mean spending a little bit more time and money reconfiguring old layouts to achieve a better flowing space.

Inheriting old home improvements

If your home has had a long and colourful life, it’s not uncommon to find there have been more than a handful of home improvements, renovations and extensions applied to the house over the years.

In cases like these, you could find yourself spending extra time and money undoing some of these ill-fitting extension and renovations. It means you may have to work backwards before you can begin to work forwards.

Heritage restrictions

If you own a character home, it may be under local heritage restrictions. This means that there may be limitations in what you can and can’t do when renovating the property. Before starting any renovations it’s always best to check with your local council to see if there are any restrictions including heritage restrictions in place.

While there are a few extra elements to be aware of when renovating an older home, the benefits can often outweigh the downfalls and the results can be stunning. Bringing a character home back to life and incorporating old world charm with modern conveniences can increase the value and appeal of your property immensely.

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