Finding a gem of a house, with period features and character charm, is a dream for many a homeowner. Victorian terraces, Georgian townhouses, country cottages and Tudor houses: each period property has its own original features and its own renovation problems. Without professional advice, tackling renovations on a period property can be daunting. Time and money budgets are never limitless and a project can quickly spiral into a costly nightmare. Often what starts out as an exciting design plan, can end up as a half-finished building site.

The cost of a professional property developer can initially seem like an additional burden not required. Hiring a developer, however, can often save you money in the long run. With a wealth of previous experience and multiple projects in their portfolio, a property developer can find creative solutions you may never have considered. Configuring rooms to create the best living space and ensuring lighting is figured into the plans. Property developers working on period homes projects have the ideal experience for marrying period features with modern day functional living.


Expert Advice

We spoke to White Duck Developments, a Cambridgeshire property development company comprised of three couples. Originally meeting at their village gin club,  the team decided that with their years of property development experience, they should form their own company. High standards, exacting specifications and style are their key principles.

Summing up their approach, Alison Dunk from White Duck said:

"At the end of the day, our goal is to create homes that are desirable, superbly finished, with a wow factor that stand out from the rest."

Their most recent project, Cob Cottage, is a stunning thatched cottage renovation.

Cob Cottage

Before Renovations

Prior to renovations Cob cottage was a run down, eighteenth century property in Cambridgeshire. Half of the original cottage had already been demolished and there was a small extension with modern windows and structure. The plot, although in a beautiful setting, was overgrown.

Cob Cottage and plot before renovations

Cob Cottage exterior added extentions prior to renovationsCob Cottage interior prior to renovations

After Renovations

Following two rounds of pre-planning enquiries and an 18 month dedicated project, the cottage has been meticulously restored with a full long thatched roof. Inside, natural products were used where possible, with oak doors and natural stone flooring.

Cob Cottage Completed Renovation

The kitchen has been transformed with a mixture of off the peg and bespoke items. The kitchen units are finished with solid cast iron Sea Shell Burnished Cup Pulls from Suffolk Latch Company. The light fittings are bespoke porcelain with metal oversized shades.

Cob Cottage Kitchen with Suffolk Latch Company cast iron cup pulls

Solid oak doors have been fitted with a solid cast iron Oval Black Door Knob from Suffolk Latch Company.

Cob Cottage interior with oval cast iron black door knob

Period Property Expert Tips & Advice

 Local Councils & Conservation Departments

  • Work alongside the conversation department of your local county council. They are a great source of knowledge and can give invaluable advice. Working with the conversation department on cob cottage allowed White Duck Development to reinstate a full, long-thatched roof in hard-wearing Norfolk water reed.
  • Check with your local council for any grants you may be entitled to. Although there are strict guidelines, you may be able to claim for a renovation grant to help with certain costs.

Project Management

  • Break the project down into smaller tasks, considering the major structural and whole property work first, then go through room by room.
  • Research research research! Factor time for making important preparation research. Historical sites and books are a good source for ideas and information about period properties.
  • Planning your project is key. If you are not able to hire a professional property developer, make sure you stick to a properly researched plan in order to keep within your budget and avoid unnecessary costs.


  • Always allow an extra contingency budget for unexpected delays/repairs.
  • As a rule of thumb have at least an extra 10% set aside. If possible, it is wise to have 20%.
  • Most suppliers add VAT @ 20% to all quotes. If the house has been empty for more than two years there is a reduced rate of 5%. See HMRC VAT notice 708.
  • Before deciding upon specific renovations, it is advisable to get your local estate agent to give you a current market value valuation for when the property is renovated. This will give you an idea of how much is worth spending and can help with setting budgets.

Period Details

  • Replace only if there is a risk to safety and always use sympathetic materials. Ledge and brace doors with hand forged latches and T Hinges are an ideal choice for country cottages.
  • Expose original existing features. There could be a wealth of original features covered up over the years, such as fireplaces, beams and cornicing.

For authentic ironmongery deisgns for your renovation projects please see our full range of products at Suffolk Latch Company. And for further enquires about property development services please contact White Duck Developments.


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published