In April 2015, my husband and I purchased a fantastic late Victorian flat in Edinburgh, built circa 1900.
We had been searching for three years prior to that, long before we had seriously considered buying. You see, I love architecture and wanted to peek into Edinburgh's beautiful historic homes. We must have seen over 50 properties out of sheer curiosity. I think it became a pastime. Open viewings made this possible; we were able to browse without commitment.
This process has allowed us to form a strong opinion on what we wanted in a property. We decided that original features are a top priority. Many houses in Edinburgh have been altered over the years, especially those rented out. Large rooms were split into smaller rooms to accommodate more tenants. Fire regulations (for some rental houses) deemed original solid wood doors a fire hazard, and required they be replaced with hollow, self-closing fireproof doors which are often utilitarian in appearance. Original floorboards were concealed with layers of flat boards and carpet for the same reason. Fireplaces were removed and likely sold for a fortune (see here for examples of how much an original fireplace could cost you). In many cases, modernisation prevailed: ceilings were lowered to allow for spotlights to be put in, thus diminishing the room's grandeur by reducing height and concealing intricate cornicing. We wanted to buy a property that has undergone as few alterations as possible.
My favourite were the Georgian houses of the New Town, but we ended up buying something newer (only 115 years old, as opposed to 186+!). We found an unloved Victorian flat in a great location and in great condition. The original flat layout was preserved; no walls were removed and none were added. Cornicing was present in every room, a beautiful ceiling rose hung the living room, and all (but one) of the original fireplaces were still present. Most importantly, underneath all the carpet, the original floorboards were all well preserved – restoring these has had a transformative impact on the appearance of our flat. Granted, the decor was '90s granny chic – floral curtains and warm cream wallpaper – but this was superficial; the flat had enough authenticity to be a winner.
It also had no issues at the time of inspection. No wet rot, no dry rot, no skeletons or dead bodies in any of the closets, and all appeared to be fully functional. We didn't expect to be able to afford it, but it had been on the market for several months, and so we were able to negotiate a lower price. Our offer was accepted, and we became happy homeowners.
I'd share a photo of the exterior of our building, but: a) turns out I don't have one, and b) stalkers.
Instead, here's a photo of a sunset viewed from our living room window. The buildings you (can kind of) see are of a similar style to ours. Stay tuned for blog posts about the interior.