Alison Coleman 28 Feb 2019 01:10pm

Simple treasures

SPONSORED CONTENT: Many people would say their most treasured possession is their house, especially if they’ve invested time and money turning it into the home of their dreams

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Caption: Reflecting on the value of renovations
Four years ago creative business and social media coach Sara Tasker, husband Rory, and young daughter Orla moved into their new home, a 19th century three-storey former mill situated in a village on the rural outskirts of Halifax, West Yorkshire, which they’ve spent most of those four years renovating.

Their first major job was replacing the existing windows, which were stained glass. “They were beautiful but not to our taste and they made the house very dark,” says Tasker. “We are in a conservation area so we had to replace them with proper wooden windows, and find a local carpenter to make them as they were all different shapes and sizes.”

The next task was to convert a ground floor granny flat into an office, complete with podcasting sound booth, before tackling the biggest project: renovating the top floor, an empty space spanning the footprint of the house, to include two bedrooms and a bathroom. Tasker says, “It’s a complex job that requires moving the stairs and the services of an architect.

That added a lot to the cost, but a high quality space that really works for us is worth it.” Her favourite part of the house is the kitchen, complete with a 1950s shop counter. She says, “Most people would have ripped it all out and fitted a modern kitchen, but I love it. The structure is sound and I know I can always change the décor to give it a new lease of life.”

So far the costs are almost 20% higher than first planned, but as Tasker points out, they are creating a special home for themselves and adding value to it. When renovating an unusual property, such as a former mill, Sheena Murphy, founder of interior design studio nune, offers some advice on protecting its character and historic value.

She says, “Understanding the history of a property and the characteristics of the architecture and building methods is really important when considering how to design it for modern living. Preserving the original detail is key to retaining the soul of the property, so find an experienced designer and builder who has a background working with similar buildings.”

If you are renovating with a view to increasing value, her advice is to invest in materials that you won’t have to replace in a few years. “Choose timeless fixtures and fittings over trends, and try to retain ceiling heights, especially in the case of lower ceilings,” she says. “Don’t go overboard on built-in furniture unless you really love it, because you’re leaving a job for the next owners if they don’t.”

Gavin Abbs, head of Direct Home Insurance at Hiscox UK says, “Having the right level of cover in place before work begins is so important. If things do go really wrong, homeowners can rely on their insurer to cover the cost and avoid headaches such as taking legal action against tradesman who cause damage. Ultimately it’s about peace of mind, and knowing that what’s likely to be your most valuable asset is totally taken care of.”