Ultimate Guide to Georgian House Renovations
Have you just bought a Georgian house renovation? Congratulations. Georgian houses are truly one of the most beautiful style of architecture in the UK and make for rewarding renovation projects.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through a step by step to renovate a Georgian house, how to budget and what problems to look out for, as well as making the most of the symmetrical layouts and period features Georgian houses offer. This guide is packed with tips to manage your upcoming renovation.
By the way if you’re new here, we’re Fi + Neil. With such little support for renovators out there when we flipped one property and went through renovating a house as well, we decided to do something about it. We now offer free guides, online courses, and resources to bring support and peace of mind to anyone about to renovate a house. Great to have you here!
In this guide:
Renovating a Georgian house – A Brief History
Renovating a Georgian house – What to look out for
Renovating a Georgian house – Where to start
Budgeting for your Georgian renovation
Layouts for your Georgian renovation
Designing your Georgian house
Planning your Georgian renovation
Shopping for your Georgian renovation
Renovating a Georgian house – a brief history
Built during 1714–1830
Georgian houses in the UK are some of the prettiest architecture you’ll see today. Their name “Georgian”, comes after the rule of the Georges in succession – from George I to George IV.
Typically built with local stone (it was difficult during this time to transport materials pre-railways) they’re designed with incredible sense of symmetry. In detached Georgian houses, the front doors are placed in the centre with rooms either side, framed by multi-paned sash windows.
Are Georgian houses a good renovation investment?
Georgian house renovations make for spacious, light-filled family homes once they’ve been renovated and brought up to date. However a good level of research is needed before you buy a Georgian house to renovate as these properties can often be listed or lie in conservation areas. If the configuration of the Georgian house isn’t to your taste and you wish to make structural changes like removing walls or adding extensions, you might find you are refused planning permission. Check if your property is listed here.
Dreaming of a loft conversion? Georgian properties often have minimal roof space, so again, if it’s a deal breaker that you need a home with space to convert into the loft later, check this before you buy.
On the whole though, Georgian properties have an elegant and spacious feel to them that provides a loved family home long term.
Renovating a Georgian house – what to look out for
No matter what style of house you renovate, more often than not you’ll discover unexpected issues which is why we advise renovators to budget with contingency that will cover you in any eventuality. Georgian houses can pose some issues to look out for. If you’re worried about house refurbishment costs spiralling, our renovation course is a must as it will get you set up with a tracker, you’ll learn about contingency and tackle the project in an organised (and therefore money-saving) way. It will be well worth you starting with our free Survivor’s Guide to Renovating email series too, it will show you where you can save costs.
What to look out for:
Similar to Victorian houses, ventilation issues are common in Georgian homes. They weren’t designed with damp proof courses like we see in houses today and typically, remedial work to solve and prevent further damp is the first investigation for anyone buying a Georgian house to renovate.
If you’ve just moved in, check the air bricks around your property to make sure they are unobstructed. Get the gutters cleaned and check for blocked drains to ensure water runs away from the property. It might be wise to move or waterproof line any large flower beds that sit close to the building and get regular fresh air into the house every day, simply by opening the windows. For serious damp issues not caused by condensation problems, we recommend getting a damp survey for the house which will outline in depth the specific issues with your property and recommended remedial work from an expert.
Many Georgian houses have parapet roofs which make them hard to assess for leaks from ground level. For this reason, it’s important for you or a surveyor to access the loft to look for signs of leaks or damp. When Georgian houses were originally built, they used clay roof tiles. Over time, these may have been swapped for heavier concrete tiles which the roof is not designed to hold. Ensure your structural surveyor checks for these problems as they could be costly to fix.
Similar to Victorian homes, the Georgian houses tend to have lime-based breathable plasterwork on walls which, if patched up with non-breathable plaster, can cause a host of damp issues. If you’re planning any redecoration to the house, hire reputable plasterers who understand which breathable materials Georgian buildings need in order to prevent damp issues later. It may also be prudent to use breathable lime paint such as the Bauwerk range.
How to renovate a Georgian house – where to start?
This has to be the most frequently asked question we get.
“I’m buying a Georgian house to renovate, where do I start?”
We know how ‘in the dark’ it can feel as a first time renovator without much support out there – which is why we built this guide and our online courses and resources to give you structure and peace of mind. There is a proven method to renovating a Georgian house (any style of house, for that matter. The process is universal if you’re renovating an Edwardian house, a 1930s house, or your average bungalow renovation. Below is a very quick overview, but we go into much more depth in our free survivor’s guide to renovating email series – so sign up there.
This approach is helping hundreds of UK renovators with all different era homes, styles and budgets find clarity and organisation in the chaos or renovating.
Get ball park quotes for the renovation work
The very first place to start when you buy a Georgian house to renovate is to plan your finances. If you’ve started doing this already, great. If you haven’t, start now and be as detailed as you can. We cover budgeting in much more depth on our online course and give you the best renovation budget tracker sheet that’s simple to use and keeps you on track.
Itemise as many – if not all – of the known costs you will have to renovate the house.
We always advise you to:
1) Budget for and start any work that’s been flagged as high priority in your survey first to ensure the property is structurally sound when renovations start
2) As we mentioned above, set a very comfortable contingency for yourself which will allow for unforeseen issues. We’ve written all about house renovation costs for more support but really, our Survivor’s Guide to Renovating email series goes into the most depth on how to budget and save costs (did we mention it’s free? ;) )
Make a decision on how you’ll maximise the current layout – will you extend? convert? remodel?
As we mentioned before, Georgian houses can often be listed buildings so care and research will be needed to understand what structural work you can undertake legally.
Structural work aside, there is a lot of layout enhancements you can make to a Georgian house that doesn’t involve planning permission, such as getting your furniture flow right, enhancing light in the rooms with the use of better window dressing, and even swapping the uses of rooms so that the flow works for you and your family.
Many of the renovators in our Reno Club community who have worked through our online renovation course plan layouts themselves first, with our direction. We help them consider all eventualities prior to hiring a designer or architect which ultimately gets them asking the right questions and solidifies their brief before they spend on hiring fees. The exercises in our online course have helped renovators achieve stunning results maximising space, light, warmth, no opportunities are missed. People feel confident about their investments.
Decide on how you will design the house – in a way that accentuates the Georgian features
As every renovator will tell you, there are some fortunate and not-so fortunate design choices you end up inheriting from previous owners when you get the keys to your fixer upper. Bright orange bathroom suites and psychedelic carpet are among the culprits we’ve seen!
It breaks our hearts (and yours no doubt) to see period features having been ripped out of Georgian properties during the 60s and 70s when it was more fashionable to have non-panelled doors and retro fireplaces.
If you’re the proud owner of a Georgian house, consider all the period features you’ll be keeping, enhancing and reinstating. Instagram can provide a great place to see how other Georgian home owners are updating their homes in keeping with the era while still remaining modern.
Appoint the right contractors and schedule in a start date
Whether you’re moving in and renovating the house all in one go, or in phases, finding a reputable contractor and drawing up a timeline of the work is the next step. Sometimes renovators can feel very in the dark about how a renovation runs. The timeline varies for every build of course, but the free Survivor’s Guide to Renovating email series is there to give renovators a head start in understanding which order to do work in.
We’re passionate about guiding first time renovators through the planning phase so they feel that peace of mind we never had. Our courses, free guides and resources go into detail about how to get your planning right for a smooth renovation.
Next, find suppliers – warning, this takes a LONG time!
This is such an underestimated phase of renovating. The time you give to sourcing the right items from internal doors to tiles is silly – especially when you have very specific measurements you need to adhere to. We try to support renovators by sharing all of the items we bought for our 1930s fixer upper, and we also give our students and community access to exclusive discounts to top suppliers so if you’re interested in this, and more help with managing the phases of your renovation consider signing up to our program.
Finally, work begins!
It is an insane time when work begins. Emotionally, physically and financially. But it’s miraculous in another sense seeing your ideas come to life day by day. Word of warning though, the better you plan up front, the smoother this phase will go.
2 in 5 renovators over shoot their budget and this is normally down to lack of planning. Our advice to you is, don’t go it alone. Get the help you need to renovate your Georgian house whether that’s by downloading our free resources, joining our community and signing up for the How to Renovate a House Online Course. There is no doubt it will save you time, money and give you an excellent overall finish.
Get access to our free email series today – it’s for first-time renovators who want to give their Georgian renovation the best head start 👇👇👇
We’d like to support you!
We’re passionate about helping first time renovators tackle their projects in the correct order and in an organised way so that ultimately you make the most of your home, your budget and enhance your life when your renovation is finished.
Get access to our free email series A Survivor’s Guide to Renovating
Enrol on our How to Renovate a House Online Course
Sign up for our free bi-weekly newsletter: Happy Home Letters
Or if you’d like more 1-on-1 interior design support from Fi get in touch
Fifi & Neil