PROVENCE, S’IL VOUS PLAIT?

Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azure?  or Providence Rhode Island?

Neither!  Provenance… which is from the French provenir, “to come from”.  The word refers to the chronology of the ownership or location of a historical object, but I like to think it can be applied to residential housing of any age.  Allow me to explain how proper “provenance” can add tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to the final selling price of your home.

Talk to any reputable antiques dealer and they’ll tell you the importance of provenance in adding certainty and therefore great value to an object.  I used to collect silverware designed and made by Paul Storr, one of the great London neoclassical silversmiths.  The difference in prices achieved between items that “may” have been by Paul Storr, those that “were definitely” by him and those that were definitely by him AND had their complete history of ownership checked and authenticated by recognised experts, was amazing. In one case I recall, the prices were Stg700.00 which rose to Stg1,600.00 upon confirmation of the marks thereon and went spectacularly to Stg5,000.00 when Butlers reports showed the piece had been owned by several vice-regal personages.

If you are building, renovating or extending, photographs are a must.  Take thousands if necessary but not just random and therefore meaningless shots.

Make sure you put an object or ruler, clearly marked, in each frame so there’s a recognisable point of reference.  When saving the photos, label them correctly so that there is no confusion as to where and when they were taken and what the picture actually shows.  Example; 12 Dec 2012 (don’t use 3/6/12 as it could mean 3rd June or March 6th depending on how it’s interpreted.  If a date has a single digit such as 3rd December, please use 03 so there’s no confusion as to whether the 3 could be 03, 13 or 23)

Arrange photographs into folders for each stage or part of the project and timeline them.

Write a diary, daily if necessary, cross referencing all the photographs.

If the new or renovated home has new appliances and other systems I can’t stress enough the need to keep the originals or high quality reproducible scans of all Handbooks, Warranties and other paperwork.  Just as a fully stamped logbook with accompanying receipts for all servicing increases the value of any used car, these items will give your home the edge over others and may even attract a bidding war.

Back in 2003 I had four people fighting over an immaculate property that had more than 3,000 photographs and an amazing diary of its construction, complete with all Council Plans, engineering drawings and Warranty paperwork in a beautifully presented folder.  Everything was scanned and stored remotely too, with the password to be given to the successful purchaser.  Spare parts for the oven, in built barbeque and pool were also “tagged and bagged!”  I eventually sold the home for well above the asking price.  It was a great home in a hot market but all buyers said the provenance was the kicker for them.

In selling my own property on the mountain side (see Architizer tab) I had a similar diary of many hundreds of photos taken during construction.  I passed all the plans, approvals and warranty documents to the new owner, who still lives there happily today!

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