As one of the most important parts of your home, the roof of your Victorian may be a serious concern and may require maintenance or complete replacement. Original slate roofing was popular during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. These roofs combined slate and tiles with iron nails. This can be a problem over time when the iron nails corrode and split the slates and tiles. Slate is weather resistant, however, if the slate or tiles split and become loose, they can detach and require significant maintenance.
The service pipes that brought water into the home were originally made out of lead to resist corrosion. Nowadays, of course, this is well known to be hazardous to health and should be addressed. Lead pipes can also easily develop leaks from abrasion and age. You should know what kind of pipes are running beneath and into your home and replace any lead pipes. Depending on the extent of piping, this can be an expensive maintenance job.
Many Victorian homes were built very low to the ground and used beach sand in the cement. A low foundation combined with the salt from the sand within the concrete can cause numerous problems from erosion of the concrete to termites and water damage in the foundation. Depending on how well the home was built and preserved, the foundation may require little to no maintenance. Having the structure assessed professionally will be the best way to determine the safety and level of maintenance the house requires.
These are perhaps the quintessential character trait of old Victorian homes. Ornate architectural details were a highlight of the building styles of the era and are one of the reasons people purchase Victorians. These decorative features are also some of the most important parts to maintain in order to preserve the historic character of the home. From elaborate window treatments to ornate moldings, restoring or replacing these original decorative features can be expensive, but the long term value of the home will remain if you keep up on the maintenance. Properly maintaining a Victorian home is a lot of work and can be very expensive, but is worth it in the long run. The degrees of maintenance and restoration will always depend on how well the home has been maintained in the past, as well as the age of the home. Naturally, a Victorian over 100 years old is going to have problems, so the real work for the homeowner is regularly assessing the home for problems and addressing them before they become irrevocable.
by Ben Vaughn
Ben Vaughn writes on buying Victorian homes, preserving the historic character of the homes, and the most cost effective tips for Victorian restoration.
For more tips and advice from some of our customers, have a read of our article ”Things I wish I'd known before buying my period house”. You can read our ultimate guide to period property renovation here.