Depending on who you speak to, ‘heritage’ can be a positive or negative word when applied to homes in Sydney.
For some, the historical or ‘period’ features are a draw card; others only see additional costs for maintenance and difficulties if renovating.
Before we dive into this further, firstly it’s important to define exactly what we mean by ‘heritage’.
Heritage vs Heritage-Listed
A heritage home isn’t always a heritage-listed home.
In Sydney, heritage is an umbrella term used to mainly describe homes from the 19th Century or early 20th Century.
They were usually built in a particular style and, if maintained properly, still contain many of their original features inside and out.
On the other hand, a heritage-listed home is specifically a home on one of several official registers because it has been deemed to have cultural or historical importance.
Heritage listing often comes with legally binding restrictions that, if renovating, must be followed.
Whilst a home boasting heritage features might not have these formal restrictions, as we explore later on, there are still good reasons to honour its origins when making alterations.
Renovating vs Restoring
It is also worth noting the difference between restoration and renovation.
Restoration is a very specific style of renovation where the homeowner is looking to recreate the original home as closely as possible.
Restoring a home imposes far greater constraints and responsibilities, can require a lot of work to find replacement materials that match the originals, and may oblige you to consult with a heritage expert.
On the other hand, a renovation is more likely to be about improving the liveability of the home according to the taste and lifestyle requirements of the homeowner.
Whether heritage-listed or not, if renovating, the homeowner may be adding rooms via an extension or addition that, whilst complementing the original building, makes substantial changes.
Addbuild is one of Sydney’s leading builders for major renovations so we rarely work on a project restoring a heritage-listed home as this is often left to builders who specialise in this type of work.
Buying a Heritage-Listed Home
In NSW there isn’t a law stating that a home has to be advertised as being ‘heritage-listed’ when it is being sold. Furthermore, some homes may soon be listed, but aren’t yet on a register.
So, the best advice is to check with the local council with regards to any property that you are looking to buy. Some councils have Heritage Officers. If not, the planning department should be able to help you.
This is crucial if you are looking at a home where you are quite certain that you want to make renovations soon or even in the future.
Some of the restrictions to a heritage-listed home may include not being able to add an additional storey which could severely affect your ability to expand that home – not good if you have a growing family.
Other restrictions might prevent the optimum placement of things like solar panels.
Forewarned is forearmed, but as this Heritage NSW advice points out, there are a lot of myths around how restrictive a heritage-listing might be, and there are many under-reported advantages including value.
The Value of Heritage
As noted in our recent article about “Renovating for Profit“, heritage features and heritage homes in Sydney have remained consistently in demand.
The Real Estate agent we interviewed for that article, Vicki Peters, notes that whilst a contemporary look and feel is popular when renovating, that doesn’t mean you should remove original features from a heritage-style home.
Heritage NSW also points out that there is good evidence to suggest that heritage homes sell for a premium when compared to similar homes in the same suburb, so removing original features may negatively impact a home’s value not just its desirability.
Finding the Right Fixtures
Sydney is also still well-served when it comes to finding the original materials to complement the renovation of a heritage home.
If you want to ensure that the doors and windows of your extension or addition match the older part of your home, places like Chippendale Restorations are a treasure trove of recycled and restored building supplies.
Completing a ‘look’ with original furniture is also possible with warehouses like Lunatiques offering a wide range of pre-loved and good condition originals.
Looking to Renovate?
If you are renovating a heritage-style or heritage-listed home, we’d love to hear from you.
Addbuild has been Sydney’s leading home additions and extensions builder for more than 40 years and has worked on nearly 2,000 projects, many of them older, period homes.