Renovation Dream/Financial Sinkhole?

In my between-books downtime and Pandemic anxiety reduction time, I have been watching a British show from a few years ago called Restoration Home. The show follows along with the restoration of historic homes in Britain. So far, all but one have been registered historic, but all have been at least two centuries old and most are far older. They intersperse the restoration work with research into the history of the house, its architecture, and its owners. It’s really, really interesting.

There is a pattern, however, and it goes like this: Someone falls in love with a historic house that is in serious need of rescuing, so they buy it and, starry eyed, embark on the nightmare that is all home renovations, only these are renovations on steroids. The registered homes have strict rules about what you can do and how you can do it , which I agree with, only some of the ensuing red tape is just awful. OMG.

Soon after the renovations begin, the first (of many) serious problems arise and so far every single house has had structural issues. The walls are standing on sheer stubbornness alone, the wood is rotten, ground floors are built on mud, everything leaks and has been leaking for centuries . . .

Halfway through, everyone is over budget and running out of money. Or is out of money. Some of the houses have not been finished or were simply abandoned. Some go on the market and stay there even when listed for less than the property plus renovations. Some owners appear to have got creative and are operating as a B&B.

One couple DID NOT DO A STRUCTURAL INSPECTION and guess what? The original builder in 1800 whatever was a DIY guy and/or way too trusting of his workers and many walls were not actually structurally connected. They were just leaning against each other and plastered over. I don’t understand why the house didn’t come down on his head. I can just imagine him telling his guests “DON’T LEAN ON THE WALL!” Fun parties.

After saying all that, once the structural issues are addressed and they start on the interiors, the results for the houses that get that far are magical. The proportions of these houses are breathtaking.

It’s a good thing I don’t live in England because I would be one of those people looking at a falling down historical house and I would buy it and go way over budget and be totally thrilled.


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5 Responses to “Renovation Dream/Financial Sinkhole?”

  1. Phyl says:

    Is this show on Netflix?

    • To my knowledge, no. I’ve been watching on YouTube. Google “Restoration Home.” From what I can tell there are two channels that have episodes.

  2. Jil Hagerman says:

    If you haven’t seen the movie “The Money Pit” with Tom Hanks and Shelly Long, do yourself a favor and watch it. It will tremendously enrich your enjoyment of the “Renovation” show.

  3. SonomaLass says:

    I have a horror of renovation. But I understand the appeal of really old houses, too. I am lucky that our house in Scotland is small and plain, although it *is* a renovated old building — an old cow barn.

    • I have been through renovations and it was awful. We had to take our kitchen (and more) down to bare wood. For six weeks we used the old oven as a table. Shudder.