When a new client comes to us to discuss their brief, nine times out of ten they start by telling us they would like a ‘period property with lots of character’. But dig a little under the surface and it’s not always as important as they initially think. In their pursuit of ‘space and light’, for example, the brief can sometimes give way to more modern and practical developments, which may be full of character in other ways.
Hampshire is home to plenty of ‘period’ properties – but they don’t come without their issues. Older properties that haven’t been touched for years can be ripe for renovation, giving you the flexibility to put your own stamp on them – but watch out, as much of areas such as Winchester are in a conservation area. This can mean difficult and time-consuming planning applications for extensions or even window replacements, which can prove quite costly to deal with.
At the other end of the scale, some period properties that have been uber-modernised already can sometimes lack the ‘character feel’ inside, as the original features have been replaced by too many mod cons.
Phil Spencer wrote a blog recently about ‘should you buy a brand new home or a characterful older home’, and he raises some good points for each. But in our experience it’s not as black and white as choosing one style over the other. It’s important to try to balance our clients’ desire for ‘period style’ against the rest of the criteria on their list, to try to tease out what is really important to them. ‘Period style’ does come at a price, so with a tight budget it may have to give way to essentials like the extra bedroom for the new baby or a home office to enable a client to work from home and achieve the better work/life balance they are striving for.
‘Character’ comes very much from within a home – and it’s the people living in that home with their personal style and possessions that can bring out, or stifle the character of a building. It’s worth trying to imagine, when you view a beautiful period property what your furniture may look like once the existing owner’s possessions are gone. Equally, if a more modern property lacks your perception of character, can you install your own sense of style and character with a few carefully chosen furniture pieces or decoration, rather than dismissing it straight away?
New homes come with many benefits such as impressive warranties, energy-efficiencies, the latest technology and smooth, straight walls! But the drawbacks are that the gardens tend to be smaller, the communities are less established and there is often less scope to add any value. There are always pros and cons with any style of house, but it’s worth keeping an open mind when it comes to finding the right property for you.
As with everything in life, external looks aren’t the most important thing; so our advice is not to become too obsessed with your chocolate box image of a property, but make sure it ticks the right boxes when it comes to your reasons for moving – and then make it your own.