There are lots of reasons to move to Glebe and one of these is to live in one of the older homes that help define the character of our streetscapes.

Many of our older homes in Glebe are still standing as a result of successful campaigns which arose in the 1960s to save them from policies to flatten them for freeways or from being replaced with blocks of flats. Times have since changed and many of these homes are now included in Heritage Conservation Areas and subject to specific planning controls.

Interest in the restoration and histories of our older homes remains strong. This is reflected in the responses to Glebe Society events such as the ‘How to Research Your House History Online’ seminar and the popular ‘Our House’ visits as well as to stories in the Bulletin.

However, if you own an older house, you may have found that carrying out maintenance, repairs or restoration – or all three – isn’t always straightforward. Perhaps you have a heritage specialist engaged but, if not, you may also be trying to work out how to do various small or larger jobs. For example, do you know:

  • How to specify work for painting / plastering / plumbing / building / etc and what standards to expect?
  • How to find a specialist tradesperson in the first place?
  • How to look up a licence for a tradesperson to see if it’s current?
  • How to find a template for a contract with a tradesperson?
  • What insurance is needed?
  • What planning regulations apply?
  • If council has a heritage advisor or what resources are available?

Some government organisations, including councils, as well as non-government organisations are helping to provide answers and their initiatives include:

  • A seminar with a heritage advisor, ‘Your Heritage House Explained’ held by the City of Ryde.
  • An award winning series of fact sheets published by Waverly Council to guide care of inter-war residential flat buildings within Waverley. They describe what’s important about inter-war flat buildings in terms of architectural style and how to navigate the planning process. They also outline steps on what to do, where to get more information and what principles to follow as well as highlighting some common problems and solutions.
  • A conference, ‘Home Heaven Hell’ held by the Historic Houses Association of Australia in April 2018 to support historic house owners in Australia which included advice on technical support and stories of surviving the process of restoration.
  • Free community talks on ‘hiring a tradie’ provided by the Department of Fair Trading.
  • In 2013, residents filled a venue at a Sydney City Council ‘Heritage 101’ workshop to hear advice from heritage architects and builders on how to take on house restoration.

The Glebe Society management committee plans to approach council about offering more events and/or resources for residents on the practicalities of restoring their houses and we’re looking for feedback from members on this. What information would you like at a workshop? Or what resources would you find helpful? If you have any suggestions, please email Fiona Campbell at or Ted McKeown at by end of May.

Members of the Glebe Society Heritage subcommittee, Robert Hannan and Peter Crawshaw, with Liz Vines, who spoke on the heritage advisors program at the Historic Houses of Australia inaugural conference in April. Liz Vines is a conservation architect, past President of Australia ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) and has been a heritage advisor for a number of towns. She was a consultant for the Glebe Point Road Main Street Study Stage Two.
The Historic Houses Association of Australia Ltd (HHA) is a registered charity and volunteer organisation that supports owners and promotes public interest in historic houses and properties throughout Australia. For more information go to (image: Fiona Campbell)