New research finds that period properties cost the equivalent of a small mortgage in maintenance and upkeep.

We love a character fireplace and ornate cornice as much as the next person, but these period features can come at a price in the long run.

We’ve taken a closer look at the true cost of owning a period property – one that was built before 1919. On average, period home owners have spent more than £19,213 maintaining and repairing their home since the start of 2022.

This is nearly two-and-a-half times the maintenance cost of non-period homes since 2022 (£8,496).

In total, that works out as an extra £700-a-month spent on maintaining a period home, since 2022 – a significant proportion of the current average monthly mortgage cost of £950.

And over the whole time they’ve been in their period home – which averages 16.8 years – owners of period homes have spent a whopping £68,000 on upkeep.

What are the most common issues with period homes?

Most of the time, these maintenance costs are on fixing external elements of a period home. This includes:

  • Roofing

  • Brickwork

  • Garden maintenance

  • External walls

  • Leaning chimneys

Period homeowners have spent an estimated £12,865 on these external fixes since 2022, whereas owners of non-period homes only spent £4,314 on them.

And when it comes to internal maintenance, period homeowners have spent a further £6,348, covering things like:

  • Flooring

  • Bathrooms

  • Electricals

  • Removing mould

  • Upgrading insulation

  • Fixing wiring and electrics.

On the other hand, those in non-period homes have only spent £4,182 on internal maintenance. It drops to just £2,915 for those who own a new-build home (built in or after 2020).

Is it worth buying a period property?

The costs of running a period home have caught many homeowners out.

A fifth (22%) say they didn’t realise how much they would need to spend to maintain, repair and upgrade their property – or they didn’t envisage any costs at all..

And two in five (39%) period home owners say the final cost was more than they had anticipated.

That’s not to say it always comes with regret. 72% of period home owners say the costs are ‘worth it’ and they don’t regret their purchase.

Many period homeowners think that older homes have more character (55%), others love the architectural style (45%) and a third (33%) say original features are a key draw.

What to check before buying a period home

Period properties require regular investment to keep them in good, working order. Be sure to look beyond simply the price of a property and factor in the ongoing maintenance costs when you’re looking for your next home.

And before you buy, invest in a property survey to identify any problems.

This will help you answer questions like:

  • How old is the boiler? They typically have a lifespan of 10-15 years.

  • Is there any mould that’ll need fixing? Sorting out leaky roofs, rising damp or poor ventilation can be costly.

  • What condition are the roof and chimneys in?

  • Are there any signs of Japanese Knotweed? This invasive plant has underground roots that will damage anything in its path.

  • Are there any signs of rot? You’ll need to confirm the extent of the problem and see if it’s treatable – if not, the timber may need replacing.

Looking for less maintenance? A new-build home could be the way to go

There are plenty of options when it comes to era and style of home, with many high quality homes on the market which require less investment in upkeep.

New-build homes are designed to take away the hassle and cost of upkeep compared to older properties.

New builds are constructed to the latest building standards and regulations and, with only your own wear-and-tear to deal with, you’re unlikely to need to fork out for repairs for a good few years.

What’s more, most new-build homes come with warranties to protect you in the case of any issues. Defects are usually covered for 2 years while the structural warranty lasts 10 years.

And if you’re worried about losing that homey feel of a period property, rest assured that there are plenty of design options to make sure your new build is totally your style.

You can often choose exactly how it looks, from the flooring, to the kitchen cabinets, to the garden design.

Whether you go for a new-build, or a place that has been on the block a little while longer, the most important thing is that you choose a home that works for you and your budget.

Key takeaways

  • New research finds that owners of period homes built pre-1919 spend an average of £700 per month on upkeep
  • The biggest costs go on fixing external elements like roofing, brickwork and walls
  • Be sure to get a full survey done before you buy a period home to identify any issues and help anticipate future costs