Old property renovation in Bulgaria

How to make a preliminary renovation analysis of the condition of the house you have bought and the stage of required repairs

If you are an owner of an old property in Bulgaria or intend to buy such and your property needs a repair there are some specific details you should be aware of in order to make a personal preliminary analysis for its condition.

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We will try to give you some practical advices how to define the stage of the repairs that your property might need and how to calculate (roughly) the costs involved.

As we previously mentioned old houses have some special features thus when you decide to refurbish it a serious inspection of the property is strongly recommended. When viewing the house try to pay attention to as many details as possible and to check the house from different angles. A property valuation made by an expert will cost you money so better save some money by making the conclusions by yourself if possible.

The most important question you should answer is:
"Is my property worth repairing or should it be taken down and build a new one instead"?

This might sound shocking first but sadly it is true. There are many houses across the Bulgarian villages that are just not worth refurbishing. You could spend a fortune to refurbish an old house and it still might not be satisfying. For example if the house has been build originally with low ceilings there is nothing there to be done. Small rooms with low ceilings are oppressing.

Here are our tips when inspecting the house.

Start with the roof

Usually in Bulgaria it is covered with red (Marseille) roof-tiles. Most of the houses in Bulgarian villages are very old so be aware that if the roof is covered with Turkish tiles it needs to be fully replaced; the wooden construction underneath completely removed and rebuilt. Often there are no gutters along the eaves of the roof but this not a big problem, we can put new ones.


Marseille Roof-tiles


Turkish roof tiles

Take a look for any missing tiles (if the house has not been inhabited for a long time there could be some leaks and the wooden construction of the roof was no doubt influenced by rains and snow). Also if the roof is partially collapsed or dropped it needs a repair. All the tiles and timbers have to be removed, the rotten parts of the wooden construction – changed with new ones and rebuilt.

It is recommended to follow these steps before placing the tiles on the roof:

- Remove old tiles (and keep them). They can be used again if not broken
- Replace old and broken tiles and timbers.
- Cover all roof eaves and chimney with galvanized sheet iron
- Install eave gutters
- Put a paper insulation all over the roof
- Restore tiles.

Cover chimney foot with
galvanized sheet iron
Install eave gutters

roof repair roof repair

New tiles will save you any future problems but if you intend to use the old tiles check each one of them and make yourself sure they are not damaged or broken. Very often the building process requires to put а layer of (lime) mortar underneath the tiles instead of the paper insulation because it fills in the roughness and firms the tiles.

Remember the repair of the house always starts with the roof. Once the roof is chekced you may proceed further by viewing of the external walls of the property.

Brickwork and construction

Most of the houses in the villages are two-storied. The ground floor is usually made of stones and the upper one is made of bricks. Pay attention to the brickwork and coating and mainly to the type of mortar used to bind the bricks – lime or mud. If mud was used (in very old hoses) an additional concrete construction of columns and beams has to be built. Look for obvious big, vertical cracks leading up to the roof. If there are many of them and also too big this means the house needs reinforcement.

A house in need of reinforcment
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External walls plaster (lime mortar)

If the original lime mortar plaster of the external walls is good and needs only partial repairing it may be preserved. If there is no plaster at all it must be laid. Lime Plaster is the ideal finish for brick walls (especially old ones), because it is flexible it will tolerate movement in the wall.


If you are going to renovate your house then this is a very good time to consider installing some kind of wall insulation. It will be cheaper to do it at this point than on a later stage. You might be thinking of placing of external insulation instead of plaster. External insulation of the house is a good idea – it prevents the loss of heat from the building and also stops condensation on ceiling and walls. Adding external insulation is a good opportunity when refurbishing your old house in Bulgaria.
The insulating treatment to the outside of your walls is possible but the walls need to be washed and cleared very well. Otherwise the insulation may not stick steady on to the wall and it will not be effective.

External insulation on solid walls
solid brick wall

Have in mind that if the external construction of the house is not being reinforced well, some cracks may appear again in the future. In this case we recommend you to make the insulation on the inside walls instead from the outside. The external walls are insulated by putting plaster boards on the inside walls. The plasterboards can be attached directly to the walls using special bonding agent or on metal battens in-filled with insulation materials. Thus you will have both heat insulation and perfectly smooth inner walls.

Internal insulation on solid walls
solid brick wall insulation

Stone walls on ground floor

The width of stone walls on the ground floor is usually 50-60 centimeters so any insulation is not required. You may only refresh the walls by applying new gaps connecting the stones. That’s the way to preserve the original architecture and the uniqueness of the house.

This stone wall is as at least 50 cm. thick
solid stonewall

This is how it looks like when refurbished
solid stonewall

Inside the house

The inspection continues with inside viewing of the house. Most of the houses have wooden floorings. Check the condition of the wooden beams (especially the beams on the floor of the upper story = ceiling of the ground floor) and if they are “shaking” when you step on the floor has to be reinforced. Our advice is to replace the wooden floor with reinforced steel concrete. This will strengthen the construction of the whole house and you will benefit on the long term. As doing this you will be able to have a bathroom and toiler inside the house!

Toilet inside the house?

As previously mentioned old rural houses have no internal toilets and baths so it is of high importance to reinforce the flooring before the construction of these premises. Most of the houses in the Bulgarian villages really have 2 floors but they don’t have internal staircase leading from the ground floor to the first floor of the house. They usually have external staircase – yes, it is placed outside the house - you have to go out and then go in. This is pretty uncomfortable so it is good to think about an internal staircase on time. It is better to “find” a place to where to build an internal staircase in advance because an old rural house with such an extra can hardly be found. The internal staircase is a must which will make your life more comfortable.

Water / Electricity

At the end of the viewing check water and electric system in the house. In most cases there is no water in the house and plumbing should be installed to supply the house with water as well as a water drain connected to the septic tank in the yard (there is no sewer main in the villages with some small exceptions). It is advisable to renew the whole electric system in the house to save future troubles. Your newly fitted kitchen (fridge, cooker, boiler, etc.) will need a reliable and safe electric supply.

We hope our directions and recommendation will be useful to you to calculate the reair works needed for your house.

Perhaps you have already formed the opinion that renovation or repair of one’s old property is not an easy work and costs money sometimes much than you have expected.

If you intend to buy an old house or you have a property in need of repair you can contact us for a free quote.

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