Buying properties in Croatia

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Is It Possible To Make
Older Buildings Energy Efficient?

How to improve older property's energy efficiency

Energy efficiency is fast becoming a requirement for many real-estate investors. It is reported to be one of the top features millennial home buyers are looking for when buying a house. While it may be easier to adapt to these sustainability demands when it comes to newly-built properties, it becomes a little bit tricky when it comes to putting old buildings in the market.

Is there a possibility for an old building to have sustainability and energy-efficiency features that will satisfy the modern homebuyer? Will the upgrade costs be worth the savings in the long run? These are just some frequently asked questions from buyers looking to invest in old properties.

An empty large room in an old building
In order to make older buildings energy efficient, you might need to spend
a fair bit of money and time to bring it up to buildings code. But if you
pick up an attractive spot, such as this in Croatia, it'll be worth extra money.

Pros and Cons of Buying an Old Building

Many people who are considering to invest in Croatia real estate and properties often come across many old stone houses for sale. These old stone houses look very attractive, especially for overseas investors. Aside from the historic value and charm these old stone houses offer, some properties are incredibly cheap making them irresistible not to consider.

PROs: Historic appeal, uniqueness, cheap to buy

However, many of these old stone houses also come with a caveat:

“The property needs complete renovation and refurbishment…”

Generally, older properties demand more from the owner when it comes to repair and maintenance. While the property may be very cheap to buy, it could potentially cost you more than expected when it comes to the renovation. If you’re not careful, you may be presented with costly surprises over time.

Older properties also typically consume more energy because they are in a state of disrepair. Without doing smart renovations, it could cost a lot to maintain and operate.

CONs: You have to deal with repair issues, can be costly to maintain, limitations when renovating

A typical seaside house in Croatia, with balconies and flowers
When buying older properties you have to keep in mind the local laws
and what it will cost to renovate it and bring it up to a liveable property.

How to Make an Older Property Energy Efficient

After the initial questions regarding how much the renovations would potentially cost and the extent of the renovations required, what follows next is the doubt on whether the property, old as it is, can be made energy efficient to lower maintenance cost.

The answer to that will actually depend on the building itself.

Generally, it is always possible to make an older building energy efficient. However, whether it can match the energy efficiency offered by a modern home is the variable factor. Different buildings are built differently so the only way to find out is by focusing on a specific property.

There are, however, useful tips that could help you when looking to make an old property energy efficient.

Check the rules

One common drawback when it comes to buying an old building is that there may be limitations or restrictions when it comes to upgrading the building. It will be a waste of time to go through all the planning of how to convert an old stone house into a sustainable haven only to find out that you will not be allowed to carry out the construction work you want.

When buying an old building, check the local rules where the property is located. This will give you an idea of what you can and can’t do to the building as well as legal consequences attached in case of rule violations.

For example, homeowners in England who live in historical Grade 2 listed buildings have to go through approval processes before they can carry out renovations or changes in their properties. Without approval, owners who perform unauthorised changes to historic buildings could face serious consequences including financial penalties or jail time if the fine goes unpaid.

Houses on Croatian coastline, some with solar panels, improves their energy efficiency
Using renewable energy sources on your older buildings, such as solar
panels, will make them more energy efficient in the long run.

Consult with a professional

There have been many advancements as to how homes and buildings are built today. This means that the construction style and materials used in an older home make it react differently to moisture and heat compared to a modern building.

If you want to lower the carbon footprint of your home or an old property that you’re looking to buy, it is better to seek professional advice on what steps to take. A professional will look at the building as a whole system and give recommendations that will maximise energy-efficiency efforts.

For example, a professional can advise you whether it may be more cost-effective to insulate the roof first rather than the walls. They can also tell you what type of boiler is most suitable for the property or how much it will cost to make the home energy efficient.

If you are still in the process of buying an old building, getting a professional home inspection can help you with your buying decision. A home inspection can give you an estimation of how much the renovations and installing energy efficiency measures could cost. A professional can also advise you whether the associated costs of improvements make the property a good investment.

Common courtyard for old stone houses in Croatia
Before you purchase an old stone house for its charm, be practical and
work out what it would cost to make it energy efficient.

Make simple but smart changes

While renovations involving an old property can cost a lot of money, there are also simple changes that homeowners can do to make their homes more energy efficient. You’d be surprised to discover that such measures can make a big difference when it comes to conserving the energy used in your home.

Other simple yet effective steps include:

Fixing leaky issues such as securing window panes, doors, and other openings by weather-stripping or double-glazing.

Thick and heavy curtains, floor coverings, and rugs can be effective insulators

Switching all lighting to LED lights that last longer and save 70-80% more than incandescent bulbs. While LED lights may be more expensive to buy, the long-term savings make them worth the extra cost.

Installing a home automation system that smartly controls heating, cooling, lighting, and other electronics inside your property. Smart home controls can prevent wasted energy due to electronics that are left switched on even when not in use. You can typically automate your appliances to switch off when not in use.

Installing renewable energy sources like solar panels or wind system to power your electronics. While this may be a little bit more expensive, having a small system can still help.

Replacing old appliances that consume too much energy. Look for appliances that are certified to consume less energy.

Energy Efficiency Can Increase Your Property’s Value

Buying old buildings and properties can be a great investment as long as you do your homework and consult with the right people. Even if a building is old, it is possible to make it energy efficient, which will not only make maintenance costs lower but also increase the property’s market value.

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