Are period and traditional homes as reliable as new builds?

Are period and traditional homes as reliable as new builds?

Online estate agency Tepilo explores the common misconception among buyers that older properties might be less reliable than new builds.

Across the UK, there are a wide variety of properties to buy, rent, sell or let – but sometimes it can be easier to overlook the potential of older, more traditional and period houses in favour of new build homes.


This could be down to perceived expectations of new builds having less complications and being in better condition than their older counterparts. New homes are built to the latest specifications, so in theory, there should be minimal repairs for the first few years.


However, many period and traditional homes are still in good condition, according to new research conducted by chartered surveyor e.surv.


For example, 46% of Tudor homes and 43% of Georgian properties surveyed are still in ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ condition.


Properties from the Victorian and Edwardian eras do not fare too badly, either, with 32% of properties from each period being classed as being in either ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ condition.


However, some 61% of homes built in the 1930s and 65% of those from the 1950s are now classed as only ‘average’ condition.


Meanwhile, 72% of homes built post-2000 are classed as being in ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ condition.


The research challenges some of the common misconceptions among buyers when considering a listed or older property against a new build. Results suggest that all property styles are liable to defects such as damp and poor-quality alterations. Many of these faults can go undetected without a proper survey report - an important factor for all property sellers to consider.


Many buyers rush to purchase new builds because the potential maintenance and running costs of more historic structures put them off. One of the most common observations made in surveys of modern property relates to the life expectancy of features such as windows and door frames, making new builds more favourable than period and traditional homes.


With this in mind, it’s no surprise that homebuyers, particularly first-time buyers, are often under the impression that new builds are the safest option when it comes to building quality. However, as the data from the study shows, just as newer homes aren’t always as safe as houses, period homes aren’t necessarily on the brink of collapse. This further reinstates the concept that in many cases age really is just a number.


It’s impossible for buyers to second-guess the condition of a property from its appearance alone. In some cases, surveys are often discredited as an unnecessary expense, with some home movers believing their mortgage valuation is a sufficient assurance of quality.


In this day and age, many prospective buyers aren’t entirely sure of what a building survey report is, what it means and what should actually be done with it.


A survey consists of a comprehensive inspection of all accessible elements of a property, giving detailed evaluations of its condition and suggesting which parts of the property could cause a problem.


The report is designed to point out areas of concern that could potentially need further investigation. The only thing the report doesn’t do, though, is provide a valuation of the property.


The cost of the survey varies depending on the type of property. A report for a small flat, for example, is likely to cost upwards around £600, while a report for a large house could be between £1,000 and £1,500. If the property is old, large or listed, a surveyor who specialises in these properties will be needed.


With potential buyers often magnetising towards modern homes, sometimes the good qualities of period houses get overlooked. The vast majority were built by master craftsmen with impeccable attention to detail, made to stand tall for decades – sometimes centuries – proving that traditional homes can be sturdy and reliable structures.


For example, Georgian homes usually offer good proportions with high ceilings and large windows, while Victorian properties consist of patterned brick-work, bay windows, large gardens, fireplaces and timber doors.


With any property purchase, there are pros and cons to buying a new build or period home.


Whichever style a buyer falls in love with, they should be aware of the benefits of a full RICS accredited residential survey to understand the potential risks and extra costs the property may incur. It is the only way to ensure that a new home, whatever the age, will stand the test of time.