Renovation brings beauty out of old houses


The beauty of a house is in regular up-date of facilities in order to enhance both the durability and easthetics of such buildings. Good workmanship as well as quality materials would also go a long way to ensure that your money is properly invested   By Ranti Adedeji

A lawyer-friend called me recently to find out if N3.5 million would be enough to renovate a two-wing duplex he has bought for a client at Anthony Village, Lagos. Without waiting for me to reply, he further queried if the renovation could be completed within three weeks “because the client wants to move-in as soon as possible.” “What is the condition of the building and what is the level of renovation he wants?” I asked. He latter suggested that we meet the client together to arrange a joint site inspection over the weekend. We end-up spending nine weeks on the project, at a cost of about N8 million. My experience on the project forms the basis for this write-up.

Buying an old house in developed areas like Yaba, Surulere, Ikeja and Ilupeju, then going ahead to renovate it to your taste,  rather than building a one new, can often save you a great deal of money. On the other hand, some old houses may appear to be a good bargain but will actually require a great deal of civil works, thus increasing the amount of time and money you spend on renovation. You also need to find out the state of plumbing and electrical installations; as these will add to the cost of renovation.

When you buy an old house or one that has not been occupied for a very long time, the first thing is to take stock of what to do. At the point of purchase, ensure that you collect all the necessary drawings, which will help to know the size of various apartments and other details. In case you do not have the drawings, ask an architect to prepare the drawing of the building “as it is” and prepare a new one to depict what you want the re-modeled house to look like and the required finishing materials. This will also help to give you an insight into what amount you will need for the renovation.

Prior to the commencement of renovation, according to the scope of works, you need to approach the local town planning office and get approval. The planning office will want to ascertain that your renovation has not contravened permissible redevelopment, especially change of use and change of volume. You are then charged minimal payment and issued a permit before moving to site.

The roof forms a significant part of any renovation. The roof coverings would have sustained a lot of wear and tears over the years, which might require extensive repairs or better still, complete change. Where necessary you may have to replace all damaged existing roof members (mostly, timbers) and spray with carbolin or solignum before installing to prevent insect attcacks. Similarly, the roof design may have gone out of fashion and you may need a new one in line with contemporary architectural designs. The ceiling materials also need to meet modern taste and you may have to consider using plaster of Paris, POP or PVC in some selected part of the building.

The most common wall flaws are the hairline cracks that typically appear above windows and doors. This occurs because, over time, wooden frames dry out and consequently shrink; thus pulling the dry wall with it and causing cracks to appear. Sometimes these cracks result from the house settling and requires minimal repair with rich cement mortar. However, where cracks have developed into a deep cut and bearing on the stability of the structure, it has become a grave and expensive exercise, particularly if it covers several portions of the building. Cracks on lintels and beams, where iron rods are exposed and become rust, points to more structural defects. Wherever this is noticed in the building, it is necessary to break them down and construct new ones as cheap cover-up will lead to more serious damages.

Depending on the existing floor finish, you may not need to spend so much on the floor, but with few exceptions. There are floors that were finished with ordinary cement/sand screed and have developed a lot of cracks, because there was no dpc on the foundation when it was constructed. In a situation like this, you may have to break that portion of the floor and screed again, then finish with quality floor tiles.

Where there are existing floor tiles, all you need is to wash and polish in order to bring-out their original beauty. This applies to wall tiles too. You have to pay special attention to the grout, that is, the lines between the tiles and mostly done with white cement, which may require intensified cleaning in order to regain original sparkle.  There are a variety of cleaning solutions in the market to help restore the tiles to their initial top shape.


Have you just bought an old house that requires extensive renovation; or want to renovate an existing building? We have the expertise and exprienced skilled workmen required to bring beauty out of old houses.

Talk to Ranti Adedeji on 0813-784-3401 or 0802-367-3113

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