While many home buyers aspire to acquiring a brand new, modern home, others prefer and appreciate the character and charm of a historic home.
Heritage properties – which are structures older than 60 years - are close to the hearts of several Pam Golding Properties agents in Port Elizabeth. One agent, Brenda Cadle, has over the years owned three and says this is the only kind of home for her.
“For me it’s about the wooden floors, high ceilings, beautiful workmanship and general ambience. They also sometimes reveal hidden ‘treasures’. When I was living in Grahamstown my Heritage house was amazing, with expansive floors and very thick walls. I’d been living in it for about five years when I Summerstranddiscovered an underground reservoir in the garden, which we turned into a swimming pool.
“I took 12 years to renovate this house for the simple reason that I didn’t have the funds to do it all at once, and I also wanted to ensure I put it back together with great care and as many of its natural features as possible. I am doing the same with my Port Elizabeth house where I am replacing as many of its original features as possible, and have just installed an original ball and claw bath which I found at a local antique dealer.
“For me one of the key advantages is that usually the rooms are much larger than a more modern build freestanding home.
“Here I’ve seen a couple of homes in Central which have what is called a horse passage. One owner turned his into a bathroom, while another converted it into a quaint mini-movie theatre.”
Adds Cadle: “Sellers tend to ask premium prices, largely as a result of their historical value and position, as they are inclined to be situated in very popular, convenient areas.”
Another Pam Golding Properties agent, Carey Anderson, recently sold a Heritage house for the second time. Situated in Central and exquisitely renovated to its former gracious glory over a period of two years, it fetched R1.8 million. Situated within walking distance of shops, top private schools and the hospital, this home is a perfectly positioned Victorian gem ideal as a family home with work-from-home potential. Original features include pressed ceilings, fireplaces and Oregon pine floors. Built to stand the test of time, it also has large bedrooms and a veranda overlooking a treed garden.
In addition the architect owner, has, also for the sum of R1.8 million, purchased – again through Anderson of Pam Golding Properties – the Heritage home next door which he is currently renovating, restoring this irreplaceable piece of local history to its original grandeur. Says Anderson: “He truly admires and treasures historic homes and researches them back to the very beginning, gathering all the history behind the homes, as each has its own unique story. A lot of the material used to build these two homes was sourced overseas and brought to South Africa.”
PGP agent Debbie Pughe-Parry, agrees that nothing beats living in a Heritage home. Situated just one road from the beach in prime Summerstrand, the character and ambience is unsurpassed, she says. Historic features such as marble fireplaces, gleaming wooden floors, chandeliers, formal sitting rooms and dining rooms all add to a sense of grandeur and elegance from a time now passed and which is unlikely to be experienced in the future.
Says Pughe-Parry: “The benefits of owning a Heritage home are many and the role of the owner is almost as a custodian of the history and heritage attached to the home. “These homes tend to be very well built with deep foundations, no rising damp or cracking, with slate roofs, shingles or real clay tiles – high-pitched and functional. The rooms are spacious and cool or warm depending on seasonal changes. Appealing features of such homes include feature fireplaces, ceiling roses, original shutters and sash windows.”
The Pam Golding Properties agents say the Port Elizabeth suburb of Mill Park is filled with Heritage homes and there are also a significant number in the areas of Mount Croix, Richmond Hill, North End, St Georges, South End, the old part of Summerstrand and of course, Central.
Says Anderson: “Many of the homes in Mill Park go back to the 1900’s and I too live in this tree-lined suburb. My own house was built in 1904 and I acquired it because of the heritage, character, trees, safety and proximity to the top boys’ school, Grey. These houses typically have high ceilings, sash or bay windows, Oregon or Teak floors, wrap-around verandas – mostly Victorian, with some Edwardian and Art Deco features. The Master craftsmanship in such homes is a key selling point.”
Pughe-Parry concurs that Heritage homes remain in demand mainly because of their spaciousness. “They are usually of generous proportions, with comfort levels that can be adapted to incorporate the character-filled aspects with modern touches to provide a feeling of ‘homeliness’ not always achieved in modern homes. It is however, a matter of taste. You can never make them entirely ‘new’ but can definitely enhance and work with the existing features to ensure a very comfortable and singularly appealing home.”
She says however, that a higher price will not necessarily be achieved on the age of the home alone, as with older homes comes the responsibility of maintenance, although if kept up this does not detract from the home. “If sellers do achieve a higher value, this will more likely be related to the positioning of the home, such as proximity to the beach and situation on a larger erf.”
Sound advice from the PGP agents is that if you want to renovate a Heritage home to suit a modern lifestyle you need to obtain permission from SAHRA (South African Heritage Resources Agency) - visit www.sahra.org.za. It is also advisable to engage an architect who is affiliated to SAHRA (South African Heritage Resources Agency) and who will relate to the house and its historical value.