It is sad to see one’s ancestral home drab and dilapidated after many years of being exposed to the elements, uninhabited and unattended. The beautiful architecture is still there but, among other defects, parts of the roof may have fallen, the outer limestone walls may have decayed, there’s water seepage in some rooms in the lower floor, stained glass windows are broken and paint and wallpaper are peeling off. If descendants of the former owner treasure the history and value of their ancestral home, they have to restore the home to its former glory.
In restoring an ancestral home, the cost of restoration and how long it will take are primary considerations. Other factors to consider would be how much of the work a person will take on himself and how much will be handled by professionals.
Restoration, unlike rehabilitation, is the process of finding out the original condition of a place or of an individual part as it appeared at a particular period in its history, then restoring the place to that condition. To protect its heritage value, features that had been added in the later periods of its history have to be removed and missing features from the original period restored. Restoration must be based on thorough research in order to know the earlier forms and materials that have to be recovered.
Planning for the restoration
Find out from the appropriate local authority whether the house has a special status. Having this status might subject the house to specific rules applied to the restoration of heritage buildings. There might also be financial considerations that could affect restoration work. If a government subsidy is available to assist owners financially in restoring heritage buildings, take advantage of it.
The house’s history, its original architecture, layout, materials, finishes, and systems have to be reviewed and compared with the current condition of the house in order to know how extensive the restoration would be. If the house, after restoration, is to be lived in, it must be able to accommodate the household’s lifestyle and needs.
Use an experienced contractor
Once prior research on the house is done and all the rules to follow are known, contact a contractor experienced in home restorations. Research information has to be shared and discussed with him so that he will have a thorough knowledge of the house’s background. Then, he should visit and explore the home to determine the scope of the work to be done, plan the sequencing of the work and provide a cost estimate. Having had the experience of restoring similar homes, he would be able to constitute a team to do the various stages of restoration work.
Common ancestral home problems that need to be seriously addressed first before anything else
- Look for signs of water damage which could have been caused by stormwater in the past or by damaged piped-water networks or drainage systems. The latter have to be adjusted and fixed immediately.
- The roof, windows, and masonry have to be fixed to prevent seepage of water into the house. As much as possible, the original materials used have to be retained, reused or fixed. This includes avoiding the use of cement-based mortars with limestone and old bricks since cement-based products speed up erosion and decay of these structures. For people who are Australia based, it should be easy to find a reliable limestone restoration company most especially as there are a lot of experts that offer this service.
Restoring one’s ancestral home is a challenging task. It would be expensive and time-consuming. The decision to put money and time into it should not be done hastily.