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Choosing the Right Materials for your Heritage Home

For those of us who love heritage homes, the appeal is obvious. Historic properties are often beautiful and spacious, infused with character and built with the attention to detail that is sadly lacking in many contemporary dwellings. If you have purchased a historic home, then you no doubt already understand that its value is much more than monetary. Of course it is also a financial outlay, and the best way to protect both the history and your investment is to look after the property as it deserves. And that means choosing the right materials when repairing or renovating.

The importance of choosing wisely

When people use the term heritage they may be referring to an older property or one that has been either officially heritage-listed or classified in a heritage conservation area (HCA). Local councils will have guidelines for any work done on heritage-listed or HCA properties so it is essential that you contact your local council for full details. Even if your property isn’t heritage-listed, in buying a historic home you are responsible for maintaining and helping to preserve its history so it’s important that any decisions you make help retain the ‘integrity’ of the home.

Getting to know your materials

Older properties were built to last. The use of materials including sandstone, copper and slate roofing and cast iron pipes in Sydney homes certainly helped to ensure those buildings still stand today. Gutters and roofing are open to the elements however, so it’s no surprise that repairs or replacements will need to be made from time to time. To help ensure you choose the right materials for your home, first check what materials are currently in use. You might also try to find any information on the history of the property including original documentation and photographs.

Why there are right – and wrong – materials

Homeowners sometimes mistakenly assume that only ‘modern’ materials are suitable for areas such as roofing and guttering. Another common misconception is that only the main materials used in the house are important with piping and guttering viewed as ‘trimmings’. On the contrary, the right piping and roofing will not only contribute to the overall aesthetic; they may help preserve the property for many years. Cheap, poor quality or simply unsuitable materials may at best detract from the heritage appeal of your home. At worst, they may damage or hasten the deterioration of aspects of the property.

What to do next

If you are interested in learning more about heritage properties, then the NSW Department of Environment & Heritage website has a number of educational resources that make interesting reading. And of course, you are very welcome to ask us for advice. With 20 years’ experience in traditional guttering and roofing services on properties ranging from private residences to major National Trust buildings, we have a thorough understanding of the materials that will best suit your heritage home.

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