Heritage homes are a beautiful part of our architectural landscape, but they can be difficult to renovate due to the legalities put in place to protect and preserve our architectural heritage.
If you’re not sure where to start, this guide will walk you through the basics of renovating your heritage home. It’s important to remember that in Australia, there are restrictions on what you can and cannot do – it’s always worth speaking to your local council before starting any work.
As a general rule of thumb though, here’s a rough guide to what is typically considered acceptable and unacceptable when it comes to heritage home renovations. Your best option for navigating this process is to work with residential architects for heritage homes, as they will ensure all designs and construction work strictly adheres to council regulations.
Installing or upgrading utilities is usually okay
If your home is old enough to be heritage-listed, then there’s a good chance it’ll need some upgraded plumbing, drainage, gas and electrical wiring! Things like smoke alarms, for example, are a legal requirement these days, so installing or upgrading utilities in your heritage home is generally allowed.
You can usually modernise kitchen, bathroom and laundry areas without issue
However, all new fittings and fixtures must be sympathetic to the era of the home. For example, you might need to install double-glazed sash windows or clay roof tiles instead of more modern alternatives.
You can’t change the street-front facade
The street-front facade of a heritage home is one of its most important features, so you’re not allowed to make any structural changes to it. This includes things like changing doorways or windows, or adding new additions; whereas something like applying a fresh paint job should be accepted by your local council.
You can’t change the original structure of the home
The original structure of a heritage home must be preserved, which means things like removing or altering internal walls, or adding new levels to the home isn’t permitted. However, minor repairs and maintenance should be fine.
As you can see, there are quite a few restrictions in place when it comes to renovating heritage homes. However, as long as you work with a reliable residential architect with experience in heritage homes, you should be able to get the relevant approvals from your local council.