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Old building renovation: measures, costs, solutions
Old building renovation: measures, costs, solutions

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Adventure renovation of old buildings: Instead of building a new home for themselves and the family, some people dream of a house with history, a house with charm - in short: an old building. Knowing the need for old building renovation, however, lets many builders bury their dream. Let's not kid ourselves: yes, an old building renovation is an enormously large project. But with meticulous preparation, good planning, experienced craftsmen and a lot of patience you breathe new life into a property from the older semester. And if you fill out the right forms, you will even get financial support.

Table of contents Table of contents renovation of old buildings: With patience and perseverance to the dream property

  • What is an old building?
  • Even before the purchase: extensive inspection
  • Observe monument protection when renovating old buildings
  • The most important tasks in the renovation of old buildings
  • What does an old building renovation cost?
  • What is funded in the renovation of old buildings?

Table of contents Table of contents renovation of old buildings: With patience and perseverance to the dream property

  • What is an old building?
  • Even before the purchase: extensive inspection
  • Observe monument protection when renovating old buildings
  • The most important tasks in the renovation of old buildings
  • What does an old building renovation cost?
  • What is funded in the renovation of old buildings?

What is an old building?

The experts call an old building a house that has been used, inhabited or managed for a very long time. A building that was built in a different style than is common today and also with different materials than those used today, and without modernization offers no modern living comfort. For a long time, 1949 marked a border and houses that had been built before were automatically declared as old buildings. This limit has shifted in recent years. In the meantime, buildings built in the 1970s are also referred to as old buildings. After all, they have a very unique style and most of them are definitely in need of renovation

Even before the purchase: extensive inspection

Before you decide to buy an old building, you as a layperson can identify one or the other problem area and do a short old building check:

  1. Is the roof hanging askew or are tiles missing?
  2. Are all the walls still standing?
  3. Is the facade crumbling?
  4. Do you see stick, mold or water stains on the walls or on the ceiling?
  5. Are all the windows still in place? Does it pull in through the windows in some rooms?
  6. Are the floors still everywhere?
  7. Is the staircase completely present? Are there steps missing? Is the woodworm in there?
  8. Does the basement smell musty? Are the walls damp?
  9. When was the last time the boiler was replaced? With gas and oil heating, the boilers, if they are older than 30 years, have to be replaced when the owner changes.
  10. Is the house listed? You can find out from the building authorities.
Altbauschäden
Altbauschäden

If the windows in the old building are not properly insulated, moisture penetrates and damage to the ceilings and walls occurs.

Photo: iStock / germi_p

In addition, you should consult an expert before signing the purchase contract so that you know exactly what to expect when renovating an old building. Yes, the building surveyor will cost you something. But based on his report, you can then with a high degree of probability push the purchase price a little further and pay his wages with the money saved.

The building surveyor will take a close look at the structure of your dream house and, in addition to the things that you, as the building owner, could roughly estimate, will primarily take care of the following classic old building renovation fields:

  1. What is the general condition of the building fabric? About the stones, the cement, the mortar?
  2. Does the blanket support?
  3. Can the floors stay in or do they need to be replaced?
  4. What is the condition of the pipes and lines?
  5. Are the hot water pipes insulated? You definitely have to do this work if you want to keep the old pipes.
  6. Does the roof support any extensions or a photovoltaic system?
  7. Can some walls be removed in favor of an open space construction without everything collapsing? Which can go? Which ones have to stay because they are pregnant?
  8. Has the old building been rotting and damp? Where do these problems come from?

In addition, each house type can still have its very own problems when renovating old buildings:

Fachwerkhaus
Fachwerkhaus

The damage can vary depending on the type of house.

Photo: iStock / Schad1953

  • In half-timbered houses, the condition of the wooden beams must be checked.
  • Houses from the period immediately after the Second World War were often built with very cheap material or material from bombed houses. You may encounter several trouble spots when renovating an old building. You should definitely have the house tested for asbestos and the water pipes for lead. In addition, sound insulation and insulation are virtually non-existent in classic 1950s houses.
  • Houses from the Wilhelminian era, i.e. the end of the 19th century, often have a problem with the pipes, lines and windows. The latter can, but need not, become a problem when it comes to monument protection.

An expert can tell you exactly what damage you can expect when renovating an old building. It is therefore definitely worthwhile to involve him in the planning process as early as possible.

Observe monument protection when renovating old buildings

The following applies to the subject of monument protection: If your house is (even partially) a monument, you are obliged to preserve the historical building substance and must work closely with the responsible authority for the renovation of the old building. Sometimes it may be that the monument protection does not affect the entire house, but only the unique features worth protecting, such as art work, a special design or a special type of window. Then you have a free hand for the rest. In addition, listed old buildings are usually exempt from the statutory energy saving regulation and apart from the KfW bank and the housing construction premium, there are also regional special support programs for the renovation of old buildings in many places.

Mehrfamilienhaus
Mehrfamilienhaus

Apartment buildings in old style are also particularly attractive. But here too, check the old building for any abnormalities.

Photo: iStock / Terroa

The most important tasks in the renovation of old buildings

Energy efficiency: Even if the legal energy saving regulation for new buildings does not have to be observed when renovating old buildings, old buildings can also become a cozy and warm home. Houses from the second half of the 20th century can even become energy-plus houses, among other things by cladding with a heat composite system consisting of surface layer, plaster base layer and insulation material (mineral wool, hard foam or calcium silicate panels). Other options for facade insulation are ventilated curtain walls and blow-in insulation. Incidentally, when renovating old buildings, you should always insulate correctly first and then install a new heater and new windows. Otherwise there is a risk of mold. But speaking of insulation: don't forget to insulate the basement ceiling from below!

Experts recommend that energy efficiency is at the limit, because investments usually pay for themselves after five to ten years and from this point on your wallet will be relieved. Anyone who does not perform energy-saving renovations, but only performs optical beauty corrections on the façade, for example, has permanently higher energy costs. Depending on the scope of the facade renovation work, it may also be the case that the Energy Saving Ordinance applies to you in some cases. You should contact an energy consultant to master this issue in a way that is easy on the nerves - even if this has no longer been required by law since 1 January to apply for funding. The energy consultant will show you where your old building loses the most energy, help you apply for funding and then, based on its recommendations, obtain cost estimates and ideas from specialist companies - which you then need again as a basis for financing the old building renovation.

Altbau Schimmel
Altbau Schimmel

The windows should be properly insulated, otherwise this will quickly lead to mold on the ceilings and walls.

Photo: iStock / brunorbs

The roof: In addition to the fact that it must of course not rain in, the roof beams should also be free of pests. The bricks and the style of the roof itself should match the look of the house - and it may be that the monument protection has a say. Nevertheless, things have to be modern under the roof: The energy saving regulation must be observed if you have the roof re-covered during the renovation of the old building. If you do not live in a listed building, you could now think about a loft conversion, a dormer window or a loggia and gain additional living space thanks to the renovation of the old building.

The windows: If the house has been properly insulated in the course of the renovation of the old building, then it is time to bring the windows up to the latest energy saving status. Provided that the monument office has no problems with it. Often the monument experts are mainly concerned with the shape and color of the windows and a compromise can also be found with modern window frames.

What does an old building renovation cost?

If you are interested in buying an old building and undertaking an old building renovation, you should get in touch with your financial advisor as soon as possible and have your exact budget calculated - including premiums and funding amounts for old building renovations. For example, you can use the modernization calculator from LBS to estimate how much money you will need for the old building renovation project.

Only very few builders can manage to renovate an old building at once. We therefore advise you to coordinate all measures precisely and to start with those that prevent you from living in the house: heating, flawless water pipes, secure power lines, a covered roof and stable floors should be at the top of the priority list.

The floors do not have to be covered with tiles, laminate or parquet in all rooms, they simply have to be safe. The facade is also important - but if there is not a hole in it, external insulation work and facade renovation and design can also be done if you already live in it. This also applies to the windows. Of course, only if they don't fall out of their own accord. The replacement of the windows is a lot of dirt and therefore many builders prefer to get the window replacement in front of the flooring over the stage when renovating an old building. But if, for example, you move into your renovated dream in spring, you theoretically have until September to have the windows sealed for winter use - and with it a little more financial scope. Talk to the building expert and the architect openly and honestly about your financial situation. Because the renovation schedule for the renovation of old buildings can only be created efficiently if you provide correct information.

Kosten kalkulieren
Kosten kalkulieren

An old building renovation is very expensive and should therefore be well considered. Unexpected and unpredictable costs can always occur during the renovation.

Photo: iStock / Christian Horz

You traditionally have to pay the following costs for an old building renovation:

Type of renovation costs
Fill in the crack (three meters long) in the masonry between 500 and 1000 euros
Insulate facade (heat composite system) about 130 euros per square meter
Insulate facade (curtain wall) about 180 euros per square meter
Insulate facade (blow in) 20 euros per square meter
Triple glazed windows about 500 euros per window
Sealing the basement (from the inside) 250 euros per square meter
Sealing basement (from outside) 400 euros the running meter
Insulate basement ceiling (from below) 25 euros per square meter
Insulate hot water pipes 5 to 10 euros the running meter
Insulate the floor ceiling 50 euros per square meter
Insulate the roof 80 euros per square meter
Cover the roof again 100 euros per square meter
  • What does an energy consultant cost?

    Daily average rate of 350 euros, hourly average rate of 45 euros, plus travel and material costs

  • What does a building surveyor cost?

    70 to 200 euros per hour, fixed prices per project possible

What is funded in the renovation of old buildings?

For an old building renovation, you can contact the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW; for energetic renovation of the building shell and new buildings) and, as soon as the topic of renewable energies is concerned, also the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (BAFA; exception: fuel cell - KfW is responsible for this) Apply for funding. From 2021, old building renovators will no longer have to go to both locations and fill out dozens of papers, but everything will be summarized in a “one-stop shop” application for federal funding for efficient buildings (BeG).

Since January 1, 2020 and from January 24, 2020, new regulations for the promotion of renovation work apply. As part of the 2030 climate protection program, the Federal Government has decided to generally pay higher amounts for renovation work. In some projects, however, funding can also be dropped entirely.

For example, condensing heating systems that are operated exclusively with gas or oil are no longer subsidized. From 2026 these heaters may no longer be installed at all. There will be an exchange bonus and 40 percent of the costs can be reimbursed for replacing an old oil heating system with a gas hybrid heating system (solar thermal). Anyone who installs such a hybrid heater in a new building gets 30 percent back. If you only rely on renewable energies, i.e. biomass or ambient heat, you will even get back 45 percent of the reimbursable costs.

For the KfW 430 and KfW 125 grant programs (repayment allowance), the maximum funding amount increases to 10, 000 euros (20 percent) for each residential unit. For new triple-glazed windows and the insulation of the basement, facade and roof, there are even up to 48, 000 euros per housing unit (40 percent) for the efficient house renovation.

Fenster isolieren
Fenster isolieren

Funding for renovation work also applies to the insulation of windows as part of the 2030 climate protection program.

Photo: iStock / galitskaya

A further funding option for the renovation of old buildings is the housing construction premium: The state subsidy must be used to buy or build a home and is paid to all persons living in Germany who are subject to unlimited taxation from the age of 16 (or, in the case of orphans, possibly earlier) if they make a so-called premium-reduced expense, i.e. regularly pay into a home savings contract, for example, and the annual income is below the legal limit for the subsidy. For 2020, this is still 25, 600 euros for single people and 51, 200 euros for married couples. From January 1, 2021, the sums will increase to EUR 35, 000 and EUR 70, 000. Further details also depend on the state in which you would like to buy your dream property.

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Sabrina Deckert

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