Renovations to Preserve Heritage Homes in Christchurch

Heritage homes are part of what makes Christchurch, Christchurch! But that doesn’t make the challenges of living in an outdated home any easier. Here’s how to change that…

Exterior of a weatherboard house

Preserving heritage homes in Christchurch: why renovations are important

Across New Zealand, you’ll find thousands of heritage homes that are classified as such for their age, architectural style, historical significance, or a combination of all of the above. Heritage homes in Christchurch are typically easy to recognise – native timber, verandas, pitched roofs, and decorative embellishments. Many of these features reflect the Victorian and Edwardian styles that were popular during the 19th and early 20th centuries. 

Nowadays, it can feel like a struggle to find the balance between preserving the beauty and history of a home while making it suitable for the needs of modern living. That’s why the Christchurch City Council has strict regulations in place that are meant to protect the significance of a heritage home while allowing homeowners to modernise their properties through professional home renovations

Common challenges in renovating heritage homes and how to overcome them

Renovating a heritage home in Christchurch comes with two sets of challenges: those that stem from the age and location of the property, and those that come with repairing them. 

Weathering, decay, and deterioration are to be expected with homes that are close to or more than a century old. And with that, comes high maintenance costs and poor energy efficiency. These things add up over time, and renovating ends up being a money saving investment in the long haul. 

Of course, heritage homes in Christchurch are also subject to a unique challenge: earthquakes. Many older homes were especially affected by the 2010/2011 earthquakes because homes that age weren’t built to withstand modern seismic activity, causing severe structural issues and damage. 

How heritage home renovations differ from traditional ones

While applying for consent is usually part of an ordinary renovation, updating a heritage house in Christchurch comes with its own set of regulations that must be adhered to. After the earthquakes, the council created a set of heritage guidelines to help with the repair and maintenance of heritage homes and character villas that were damaged. Topics discussed in the guidelines vary from making like-for-like repairs where possible to how to make sure a structure is safe and secure. 

You can read more about the guidelines on the council website here. 

Beyond these guidelines, many heritage home renovations in Christchurch require homeowners to obtain resource consent. 

Resource consent is required for:

  • Complete or partial demolition
  • New buildings within a heritage setting
  • Earthworks
  • Plans that don't meet the permitted activity standards outline in the district plan

Modernising your heritage home in Christchurch  

Energy efficiency

As mentioned, energy efficiency wasn’t exactly a thing back in the late 19th century when many heritage homes were built, so there’s plenty of room for improvement. Proper insulation, double-glazed windows, new water fixtures, updated kitchen appliances, or even solar panels are a great place to start. 

Interior design

Most restrictions apply to the exterior of a heritage home. The facade, the landscaping, the roof. And while there are still some rules to consider, you’ll have much more freedom when it comes to modernising your home’s interior. You’d be amazed at the difference simple updates like new floors and lighting can make!

Layout configuration

Older homes are known for being more compartmentalised than modern designs. Open-plan layouts create a more effortless and natural flow throughout your living area, and tend to be more functional for families and those who love hosting. 

Struggling to find the balance between new and old?

We’ve got you covered! Our team of heritage home renovation specialists in Christchurch is here to help. Just get in touch to arrange an initial consultation. We’ll discuss ways to modernise your heritage home while preserving its character. And most importantly, we’ll be there for you when it’s time to deal with those time consuming council applications!

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