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What You Need To Know When Buying Heritage Property in Perth

Posted on 14 April 2015

When you’ve found a little gem of an historical house in Perth, which has stories embedded in its walls and gracefully displays the architectural charm of yesteryear, it is quite likely to be listed on the Register of Heritage Places.


What this means is that it has been officially recognised by the state of Western Australia as having particular cultural or historical significance for the community. The Heritage of Western Australia Act of 1991 was created to identify, conserve and promote properties of this nature.

 

The fact that a property you’re eager to purchase is heritage-listed might be off-putting at first, but it shouldn’t scare you away. It just means there are a few things you need to be aware of before you sign on the dotted line.


Alterations


A common concern with owning a heritage-listed property is not being able to make any alterations to it. In fact, alterations can be made to a heritage property as long as certain requirements are met. Any changes just need to be referred to the local government authority, and in some cases the Heritage Council, for approval. This ensures the heritage value of the property is maintained and respected.

 

Another positive when purchasing a heritage property is that they are not exempt from technological change. The Heritage Council is happy to provide guidance on how owners can install renewable energy systems such as solar panels.  

 

Maintenance


Other than what might be required by your local council, you do not need to seek approval before undertaking normal minor maintenance on heritage-listed properties in Perth. An example of minor repairs that do not require approval include painting surfaces in a like-for-like style, undertaking gardening or landscaping that does not involve major alteration, and replacing missing or deteriorated fabric with like-for-like materials.


Insurance


While some insurance companies have a policy of not insuring heritage-listed properties, you should generally be able to insure any property that is occupied and is in a safe condition. Talk to your insurance company or broker direct about your needs. You might also want to provide them with proof that the property is well-maintained, and is fitted with fire alarms, upgraded plumbing and electrical systems. In general, you can insure a heritage property in the same way as any other home, but it is a good idea to make sure you have sufficient coverage for things like replacing materials on a like-for-like basis.


Conservation


As an owner of a heritage-listed property, you may be able to receive assistance from the Heritage Grants Program to undertake conservation work such as structural repair. This is something that you may be able to factor into your purchasing budget.


Selling the property


If you’re concerned about the resale potential of the property for the future, heritage properties do tend to perform well in general. Of course the value and attractiveness of the property will still be determined by the usual factors –  location, size and property condition.

 

When buying a heritage-listed property in Perth, you can never be armed with too much information. You need to ensure that you are prepared for the maintenance that will be required, and that you are going to be able to treat the property in a way that it deserves. If you’re unsure, you can contact the Heritage Council to have one of their heritage specialists attend an on-site consultation with you.

 

You also want to make sure that you know exactly what you’re getting into before you buy, which is why a pre-purchase building inspection in Perth is so important.

 

While there are perhaps more factors to consider when it comes to purchasing a heritage property than something more modern, heritage properties are special, and a heritage listing can often add value to a home.

 

By Darel McBride

 

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