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Villa Renovation – A Quick Guide

Reinvention is a constant in the world of renovating old Auckland villas.

For all their glory, this architectural style does have some pitfalls – but the classic Auckland villa holds buckets of potential, too.

Renovating Villas provides updates that improve livability for our modern lives, while still honouring many of the traditional details that make these 100 year old plus homes unique.

From modern makeovers to elegant restorations Auckland Builders & Renovations Ltd has the expertise to renovate your Villa.

As a quick guide, we will be looking more closely at how to renovate a villa in Auckland. We’ll look at how to bring things up to modern code while retaining as much original charm as possible.

With villa home renovations, it is not recommended to commence projects on your own without expertise as these 100 year old homes can be a handful for the uninitiated . As an Auckland  builder with expertise, we will be able to help you make the most practical choices within your budget. Auckland period villas are unique, which means you will want to take extra care when preserving their unique look, especially if they have a heritage attachment from the Council.  As the beautiful old villas were built around or over 100 years ago, there’s a very good chance there will be a few elements you need to modernise. 

Reuse what you can

If you’re considering a villa renovation in Auckland, the first thing to consider is how to refresh its style without losing its charm. These character properties are famously in demand – Remuera, Herne bay, Ponsonby villas are so iconic that you probably already have a distinct picture in your mind of what one looks like already. That’s because kiwi culture and tastes inspire them, and it can be difficult to replace them without taking away the look and feel of an entire street. 

auckland villa restoration

As its increasingly hard to find trim, flooring and facades, so if you are renovating a villa, try and keep what you can. You never know if you’ll need that spare piece of trim or architrave until the end of the project, and even beyond – kids or pets damaging trim, or the inevitable gouges in walls when moving. As the woods have aged, they take on unique colours which can be hard to match without having to do entire floors or trims. The wooden trims unique to your 1900’s home may not be readily available anymore, or trying to source a simple broken piece of plaster from around the ceiling may have easy in 1900, but its lost in time now and has been unavailable for 60 years. 

Style – New Like Old, or New Like Modern

Before you start, you’ll need to have a good idea of what style you want . Will it be in keeping with the period build or will you modernise the look for today? Did you want to create a bathroom or kitchen that has all the function of a modern home, but feels like you have been transported back in time? Did you instead want a new sleek, modern minimalist interior that lets you express your own style? Its not uncommon for us to see a villa that has been renovated in stages over different decades, upgrading a single room and leaving the rest Whilst some people like to walk through time seeing the different styles within a single home, it often means the home has no defined style, has a mix of materials of different standards behind each wall. Having a defined vision of what style you want right from the get go will ensure your heritage villa has the appeal that will last generations and a consistent style that appeals.

 Villa restorations

There’s nothing to say you can’t stay with the same look and feel of an old villa, however you’ll want to make certain common upgrades for which ever style you decide to go with.

As part of earlier renovations, common villa modifications include:

  • Installation of insulation. Walls, ceiling and underfloor. Old villas that have not been insulated are often extremely cold.
  • Installation of new windows in keeping the character. New windows will improve insulation dramatically as inevitably the windows on original villa don’t close properly anymore, are single glazed or filled with rot
  • Replacement of interior wall linings. You’ll probably find they have 10 layers of wallpaper deep making walls look uneven.
  • Electrical rewiring. With our modern lives comes new electrical loadings to stay connected. Old villas were never electrically designed for this kind of loading so switchboard upgrades and  rewire are one of the most common upgrades. Upgrading lighting is usually the most asked for electrical upgrade as well as additional power outlets.
  • Plumbing. Depending on when the plumbing was last looked at, its very likely that some, if not all of the plumbing will need an upgrade.
  • Roofing. That tin roof has about a 50 year lifespan, so thinking of a 1900’s build, it’ll need to have been replaced at least twice in its life already. If it hasn’t, there’s the prospect of water damage and rot in the framing which will need checking.
  • Redesign layout. Whilst in the 1900’s it seems appropriate to have many small rooms for separation, many people now want to open things up to improve flow, so moving or removing walls can change the entire feel of a villa.   

Be Careful with Paint

It’s inviting to want to give an old villa a completely new exterior paint. In the past, it was common to use lead based paints, so there is potential for lead poisoning if you are stripping it yourself. Best to leave it to the professionals if you are uncertain. 

villa painting

Additionally, with old villas, try and keep to colour schemes of the era (the early 20thcentury) or something that compliments the home and accentuates its features. 

Open Things Up

Old Auckland villas (or Workers Villas as they are sometimes known) are notoriously smaller in size with many nooks and crannies that leave you wondering ‘why did they do that’ in some cases.

Our modern styles presents  villa renovations  that should focus on opening up space as much as is possible, possibly combining rooms that were once separate such as kitchen and dining, knocking out a wall to install French doors for indoor outdoor flow, combing 2 bedrooms into 1, or adding a toilet or ensuite where there was none there previously. 

As villas have notoriously dark spaces due to poor design, installing bigger windows, skylights or new bi folding doors openings to the exterior are great enhancers. 

Renovations Auckland

Beware. Many heritage villas  will have been upgraded at different stages over the century, plumbing and electrical are the usual things that get upgraded every couple of decades, but often the old is still hidden within the walls. Old villas have many surprises hidden within them…. everything from the newspaper the builder was reading at the time he installed the wall, through to decade old water damage to framing that is falling apart. Its hard to budget for the unknowns in old villas, but rest assured, keep a little extra for what you might find when you open things up. 

Getting Started

Getting started with a villa renovation or villa restoration can be complicated.  You’ll need help from an experienced Auckland villa renovations expert to get the best end result.  Get in contact today to get started.

Home Renovations, House Extensions, Kitchen & Bathroom Renovations, Home Improvement & Builders in Auckland.


Auckland Builders & Renovations Limited. We are a full-service local builder and renovator in Auckland, dedicated to improving homes.

New Builds

Auckland Builders & Renovations Ltd is the Custom Home Builder of choice for those undertaking New Builds and many Architects.

Our experience with design and construction of kiwi Homes, makes us the perfect choice when building your Dream Home.

Garage Conversion

If you need an extra room, then converting your garage is one way to achieve this. Renovating a garage is easier than adding a house extension as the foundations, walls and roof are already in place.

Villa Renovation

Every heritage villa has it’s own unique issues; limited space and storage, seasonal temperature control, lack of light in living areas amongst others. With the right guidance you can keep the best of the heritage feel and add the light, comfort and spacious lifestyle you are looking for.

Kitchen Renovation

When it’s time for kitchen renovations in Auckland, we can guide you through the entire process. Your preferences are important. Your needs are unique. We build your kitchen the way you want it.