June 29, 2007

Update on monument protection - first decision taken

Dear readers, please keep your fingers crossed!

After thinking all the pros and cons of getting listed the inside of our house over and over again, we had another chat with the State preservationist today. I asked him a lot of questions concerning the everyday life and especially the practice of renovating in a listed building.
It all seems very reasonable: As all the changes we want to make are conform to the historical monument, we don't have to expect any major problems or conflicts with the Local Office for Historical Monuments.
To give you some examples: If we want to rip out the laminate and put in hard wood floors instead, they would support us but would NOT require a certain kind of wood or a certain laying technique etc. We would even be allowed to tear down inner walls to get bigger rooms (which we won't do). Of course certain changes wouldn't be allowed, like replacing old doors with new ones. Things we never thought of, anyway.

One last thing I wanted to know was whether we'd still be allowed to do a lot of work by ourselves or if everything has to be done by certified specialists. That would indeed have been an obstacle as we love to do things the diy-way. But that's no problem at all.

After this really positive chat we decided to give it a try. We want to have the inside of our house listed, too. The preservationist and an officer of the State Office for Historical Monuments (from Hanover) will look at the house thoroughly and decide, whether it is worth to be listed or not. So keep your fingers crossed, please!!

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!