What you need to know before you start renovating heritage homes

Renovating heritage homes in Australia involves a number of council regulations and restrictions. Here are the things that you need to know.
Renovating Heritage Homes

There are a lot of heritage homes in urban centres and inner suburbs in Australia, which is why a lot of people look into purchasing these properties. It is a great investment, especially when the property gives them access to the prime inner-city areas where the opportunity to build is limited. After the purchase, most of them want to renovate it, but renovating heritage homes are challenging and the process can be tricky to navigate without the help of a professional. 

One of the most common challenges when renovating heritage homes is complying with council regulations. Good thing, a great designer can help you communicate with the local council, so you know what design features you can and can’t change. A skilled designer can help you identify the heritage features of your house or the things you should keep.

Another thing that confuses owners of historic homes is the levels of heritage significance. The Heritage Council assesses the historic and aesthetic values that are worth keeping for future generations. A residential building can either be listed independently or as a part of a heritage conservation area. Your home’s status affects your renovation goals and timeline. 

For heritage-listed homes

Renovating heritage-listed homes often involves a confusing set of restrictions. 

Based on experience, there are a lot of things that you can’t do, but this doesn’t mean the property can’t be renovated at all. Most of the work revolves around preserving the original structure and making sure the interiors are suited for residential use.

Tip: Before buying a historical house you saw on a real estate listing, check whether it is listed as a heritage home by your local or state government. State government listed heritage homes are usually bigger structures and are harder to renovate.

For historic homes in a heritage conservation area

If your home is within a heritage conservation area, you won’t need a development application to do minor repairs or alterations (e.g. restoring a crumbling verandah or gutters) for maintenance purposes.

Tip: Work with a skilled heritage designer who will work with you through the design stage and respond to the council on your behalf.

What if you want to renovate your heritage home’s facade?

The council is more concerned about the renovation’s impact on the streetscape. For instance, you can’t just paint your home exteriors in any colour you want. You need to consider your area’s heritage colour schemes. These colour combinations vary from one area to another and can be very precise. 

Apart from the colour palette, you also need to follow the style of windows, doors, ironwork, and other ornamental details. 

What if you want to extend or alter your property? 

The council is also more concerned when you want to extend or alter the heritage home. There are a lot of factors to consider such as: 

  • how visible the new extension or the altered part of the house from the street and its neighbour
  • what building materials are you planning to use

If you want to extend or alter some parts of the heritage home, you only need to remember two things: 

  • If one of your neighbours has recently completed a renovation with a similar design as yours (e.g. a double-storey extension), approval should be fairly straightforward
  • You can get away with more if the extension or alteration is located at the back of the original building

Of course, the addition must retain integrity, discernible, and must look pleasant beside the original structure without overpowering it. 

If you need help renovating heritage homes, don’t hesitate to contact us. 

Contact our Brisbane-based building designers for more info.



What is a Heritage-Listed Home and How to Find Them

7 Tips For Renovating a House in a Heritage Overlay

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