House Makeovers: Devon Life

May 7, 2007  |  House Makeovers

Stop and look up at your house, just for a minute or two Think what if I changed those steel windows, what if I changed those roof tiles to slate? Should I paint the walls, or render them, or re point them?

You have probably stopped noticing the outside of your house.

Stop and spend half an hour walking around your house with a camera and a notebook, photograph and write down all the things you aren’t happy with or you’ve grown bored of.

Your motivation might be selling, or staying put for a long time or you simply want a project and you feel you’ve rather neglected the appearance of the house. People often stop looking at the basic stuff.

Walls, roof and windows are being neglected you may believe these jobs are too expensive or too complex, you need to revisit the outside of your house every now and again, it adds value and you can make it look a whole lot better.

Start with the main elements, do a ‘what if’ exercise.


What if I took those drab concrete tiles off and had the roof slated, would that look better, would that add value? These are important questions.
Roof finish is not really a DIY project but while the scaffolding is up you can do other things. You can replace windows, fascia boards and guttering. Leaking gutters are the biggest source of damp problems in houses.


Windows or fenestration, are crucial, the casements (side hung like doors) or sashes (sliding up & down) and their configuration define the elevation.

Timber is my preferred choice, hardwoods from sustainable (FSC Forestry Stewardship Council) sources are best, get a local joiner to price to supply and fit them, choose good quality window furniture, this is a major boost to a cheap ‘off the peg’ developer window. Upgrade your glazing to 24mm double glazed units with a self cleaning coating, that reduces dirt and grime on the glass, this improves the windows thermal performance, saving you money on heating bills!
Windows can make a huge difference; just think of those thin steel windows, so popular in the 1950’s compared to good quality timber windows found in many listed buildings. The timber ones add charm and character, the steel ones are too functional with nothing very appealing about them.


The cheapest way to cheer up your walls if they are brick is to paint them, yes it’s a maintenance issue, but that gives you opportunities for colour variations. Cladding materials like, timber shiplap or weatherboarding work very well, as does Western Red Cedar, Oak or Sweet Chestnut.
Slate hanging that replaces concrete plain tile is always an improvement. Never use artificial slate or tiles or cladding materials, they don’t age gracefully and won’t add value, stay clear of plastics and opt for locally sourced materials if possible, national if not. Italian marble looks great in Italy!
The walls or elevation can be thought of as having three parts, (tripartite) or horizontal bands. The plinth zone roots the building to the ground. In traditional Devon cob houses and barns this plinth was made of stone. This stopped ‘splash’ damage from the gutter-less thatch roof above and stopped or reduced rising damp. You can paint on a plinth.

The middle section is the main wall area with the principle rooms behind, have a close look at the window size, the windows here are usually a bit bigger at this level, the bedroom windows above being slightly smaller and often with a different walling material at this high level.
Another way to ‘dress-up’ a wall is to fix some trellis or garden wire to it and grow an attractive climbing shrub up the wall. Wisteria in flower is stunning; Virginia creeper and other climbers, Roses or Clematis add colour and texture.

The ground plane

This is often overlooked, literally! Surface is important, Bitmac or Tarmac can be dull and uninteresting, stamped concrete is better and many more specialist firms are around to do this. Brick paving or stone paving can really enhance your gravel paths! Use natural materials if you can afford to, but there are some very good concrete slabs about that blend well with similar colours and textures. Don’t go for a huge swathes of paving. Make small areas and paths with salvage materials as borders or margins, blending is the key with the ground plane. A timber deck running up to the lawn is a favourite of mine as this gives two easy on the feet surfaces.


These changes add value add saleability and contribute to a better place. Caring for your home says a lot about you.
You change your car, change or update your house, not just the kitchen and bathrooms spend some money on it, and this is money well spent.

If the Wheelie bin is at the front of the house, move it or conceal it. Make the right impression.


1 Comment

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