Could Buying a Period Property Ruin Your Bank Balance?

Period properties have a timeless appeal. From elaborate cornicing to original fireplaces, homes from all the eras exude their own special charm that have some of us chomping at the bit to own one. Whether Medieval or Georgian, the UK is home to some of the most impressive period properties in the world.

An Oxfordshire thatched cottage

Owning a unique piece of British history is undoubtedly the main selling point for many period homes. Whilst character may be king, other benefits include lager living spaces, landscaped gardens and fantastic locations. Sometimes pre-World War I homes that are in need of some tender loving care can also be purchased for a bargain price via estate agents and property auctions.

Whilst period properties have their advantages, they have their pitfalls too. Is it really any surprise that properties which have been standing for 500 years have their issues? To help you weigh up the financial aspect of owning a period home, we have put together some of the major expenditures that crop up.

Thatched roofs

Typically, farmhouses and properties from the Tudor era tend to have the durable and environmentally friendly roofing that we know as thatched. There is no denying that it is visually striking, but this comes at a cost in more ways than one.

Repairing a thatched roof

Fees vary when it comes to thatched roof maintenance, but a total replacement for a modest country cottage could cost between £10,000 and £14,000. Luckily, this would only need to happen every 40 to 50 years. The roof ridge, however, needs replacing every 8 to 10 years and costs in the region of £4,000.

Furthermore, when shopping around for house insurance, expect to pay a premium for owning a home with a thatched roof. Thatched properties are a fire hazard but there are insurance companies on the market who specialise in homes of this nature.

Victorian properties

With their high ceilings and original tiles, Victorian homes are hot property. They are rarely on the market for long as they are highly sought after. However, Victorian homes can be money pits because, like anything old, they need maintenance. Common issues with Victorian properties include:

  • Welsh slate roofs need replacing
  • Sagging windowsills
  • Insulation issues and draughts
  • Expensive original features such as fireplaces and tiles
  • Walls may need re-plastering
  • Shallow property foundations

Whilst these upkeep and repair costs are on the expensive side, they are typically one-off expenses. Furthermore, when viewing a property, you can keep your eye out for these potential pitfalls and discuss them with your agent.


Back in the 19th and 20th century it was not unusual to limewash stone cottages

and farmhouses. It is a very traditional property finish and was used to protect porous stone structures and those with rendering. The wash itself hails back to ancient times and is still made in the same way today; crush limestone is burnt and slaked with water to make a putty.

An electrician connecting cables

Correct maintenance states that limewashed properties should receive a new coat of liquid putty every 2 years. Prices tend to be upwards of £1,500 for expert help. However, sometimes limewashed properties may look as if they are flaking. Depending on the extent of the damage, properties may need to be rendered before limewashing can take place, but this will incur an extra cost. It is an important step to protect the structural integrity of exterior walls.

Electrical considerations

For many period properties on the market it is worth remembering that when they were originally built, electricity didn’t exist. Dwellers relied on candles, oil lamps and gas lighting in Tudor, Georgian, Edwardian and early Victorian homes. Due to this you may note that many homes do not have ceiling or wall lights present – previous owners may have relied on lamps plugged into installed wall sockets.

Undoubtedly you would need to hire a qualified electrician to install ceiling or wall lights in a period property. Furthermore, depending on work carried out by previous owners of the property, it may be worth a full wiring inspection to ensure the property is safe. If a property is listed there are limits on what can be carried out and planning permission may need to be obtained.

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