As autumn sets in, your period home undergoes a series of changes. While period properties are full of charm and character, they’re very particular and can require certain kinds of maintenance. There are many things to look for when caring for your period property, particularly in the autumn and winter months. Our agents share their best advice below.
1. Check your energy efficiency.
Energy efficiency can really affect your period property (as well as your monthly bills). According to James Skudder from Fine & Country Pembrokeshire, “older houses frequently have high thermal mass, helping to prevent overheating in summer and acting as a thermal store in winter. Use of natural material allows a building to breathe. Make sure that you check all gutters and downpipes are clear, and that the condition of the mortar is good. Be vigilant about the damp, as wet walls are less thermally efficient than dry ones.”
2. Double-line curtains over external or draughty doors.
One of the best way to keep heat in during the winter is to cover doors with curtains. Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell, owners of Bryn Y Cadno (a home currently on the market with Fine & Country), suggest putting double-lined curtains over doors in order to keep the heat in.
3. Clean your gutters.
According to Jan von Drazcek of Fine & Country North & West Norfolk, cleaning your gutters is an integral part of autumn maintenance. Jan says, “many period properties have trees near them and leaves coming off in the fall can cause blockages to the gutters. In addition, a build-up of moss can stop rainwater, and a badly distributed snowfall can cause a real runoff problem, which can lead to dampness indoors.” Clean your gutters regularly to avoid these negative effects.
4. Trim your trees.
According to Jan, “if any trees are too close to the house, cut back large branches.” Trees can present a real liability to a period property, and autumn is known for its unpredictable weather. Cut back trees near your home to prevent weak branches from falling uncontrolled.
5. Clean chimneys regularly and in advance.
Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell caution that “cleaning chimneys is extremely important, and doing so early is paramount to maintaining a period property.” Jan agrees, but adds a caveat: “check your chimneys for defects with binoculars”.
6. Check the outside of your home regularly.
With autumn comes an increase in inclement weather, and being caught with a roof that needs repairing is never a good place to be. Autumn is the perfect time for your annual roof check, as some period properties have roofs that need a bit of help before the cold really begins to set in. Jan says, “roofs, brickwork, and painting should all be checked every year. Don’t forget the drainage, either. Period properties tend to have older drainage and soakaways, and keep an eye on the tanks.”
Bryn Y Cadno, Rural Carmarthenshire
7. Consider your access route.
“Accessing your home during the autumn months can be difficult, so be certain to make arrangements before the weather gets colder,” say Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell. What can make your property difficult to access? A long drive can be quite slippery if covered in wet fallen leaves, and the same goes with snow or ice. Close to your home, you can put down non-slip mats, but otherwise, consider maintaining your drive regularly by raking leaves and driving with care during colder months.
8. Check your boilers.
“Be sure to check your boiler,” cautions James, “as this can be a very costly (and very cold) mistake.” Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell agree, saying, “be sure that your oil and gas supplies are topped up and your AGA is serviced.”
9. Change your routine.
Colder weather means a change to your summer routine to keep the heat in. James says, “institute different routines as the temperature changes, and close your curtains, shutters and doors before it gets dark to keep in the heat.”
10. Prepare your home early.
Waiting until September means that you’ll have to prepare your property in a rush. Organise your cold weather preparations in the summer, and avoid “the backache that comes with having to do everything at the end of September,” says Mr. Mitchell.
Are you looking for a period property? Contact your local Fine & Country Office for more information.