June 22, 2007

Upcoming decision - readers' opinions more than welcome!

Our house is listed as a historical building, exactly as all the other houses in the historic city centre of Hornburg. We have to preserve everything on the outside of the house (facade, windows, roof etc.) and if we want to make any changes, we have to make a building application and get the permission of the State Office for Historical Monuments.

Inside the house, you can change, rip out, destroy whatever you want to. Of course we don't even think of that! On the contrary - we'll restore a lot in our old house (wood floors instead of the laminate the previous owner layed, just to give you an example).

Right now we are thinking of classifiying the inside of the house as a historical monument, too. All the changes we want to make are exactly what the State Office suggests anyway, and IF the inside is listed, you can get a lot of valuable information from the State preservationists for free.
And you can set off all the costs for renovations against tax liability. We tried to figure out how much money we could save thereby - it would probably be an amount between 10'000 and 15'000 Euro. Sounds good.

On the other hand, everyone tells us we're completely crazy because we'd allow the State Office to intervene in our renovation plans. And that we'd never again be able to sell the house if the inside is listed, too. Or for a lot less, which is of course an argument.

And even IF we decide to have it listed, it's not sure it will be classified as a historical monument by the authorities as only few of the original structure (end of the 16th, beginning of the 17th century) is left after centuries of rebuilding and adding changes to the house. I'll post pictures of the parts that are most of all worth protection over the next few days, but we're basically talking of the cellar and the attic, some of the doors and door frames and parts of the stairs (still hidden away underneath newer layers).

We really don't know what to do - any of your advice and opinions would be much appreciated!


The Muehli's said...

Hi guys!
That really is a complicated decision. We wouldn't have been able to get historical protection status for the inside of our home because, well, we tore a big hole in one of the walls already...and didn't got to great efforts to use old materials to repair things.

It is a major task I think to allow the historical office to have the final say on what you can and can't do inside your own home. Unless you already have a good relationship with that office I would definitely be wary of taking that on. Can't you still get quite a few tax write-offs even with only the outside being protected?

I guess time frame is also a partial factor...as you may have to wait for approval on things, will have to be visiting the historical offices more and so on. But if you were going to restore it anyway maybe it's not such a big problem for you to go ahead and get the inside marked historical as well. At least then you can be certain that in the future no one will be able to destroy the house later on if/when you sell it.

I think my husband knows more about all this so I may post something to you again later. Have you looked at fachwerk.de also? Not always the friendliest people on there but many of them do know what they're talking about ;-)

Anna said...

Hi Tiffany!

Thanks so much for your comment! You perfectly summarized my doubts and fears and brought up some important problems.

It really is a weird thought that some "strangers" can decide on what your house looks like inside (or at least parts of it). On the other hand, we had a long chat with the preservationist who's responsible for our house. And he seems to be really down-to-earth and pragmatic.
But still I think you're right - we should talk to him once again and talk things over not only superficially but in detail and ask how long it would take to get a decision from their side (so far he said it would take a couple of weeks - whatever that means...).

I guess we probably already know most of the pros and cons and "just" have to take the decision. But as it is an irreversible one it is really difficult to take... And therefore it is really good to hear some more opinions!

fachwerk.de - well, in my eyes a good source for a lot of valuable information, but such an incredibly confusing site!
I read all of their threads concerning "Denkmalschutz" and I got the impression the folks discussing there are either extremly puristic (make no changes at all, even if that means to have a toilet in the yard ;) or they are astonishingly ignorant (it's my house and if I want to rip out that old stuff from 1650 then I'll do it) - so it didn't really help us a lot...

Dulcie said...


I am tagging you... If you've already done this, feel free to ignore!



Anna said...

Hi Dulcie!

Thanks for tagging! I've participated in a similar thing some months ago, but I'll think of some more - hopefully interesting - things ;). Probably about my husband this time...