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Houses built In The 1920S

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While on the look for somewhere to live (around Bristol), I have come across three options (essentially):

- buy a newish (~10yrs old) house in newish "developments", tiny drive, tiny garden, tiny rooms, needing a 4 bed to get enough space, ok built;

- buy an oldish (~40yrs) house, larger drive, not much bigger gardens, not much bigger rooms, seem poorly built;

- buy an older (1920s or so) house, large drive, large gardens, large rooms (a 3bed would be bigger than a 4 bed newer house), ok built but fairly energy inefficient;

Older houses fit my requirements better because of the overall size (irrespective of number of bedrooms) and large gardens, but I don't know how well built these houses are, how long they would last before they need to be flattened and rebuilt.

Has anybody got any thoughts on this and the (longer term) implications on the UK housing market?

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While on the look for somewhere to live (around Bristol), I have come across three options (essentially):

- buy a newish (~10yrs old) house in newish "developments", tiny drive, tiny garden, tiny rooms, needing a 4 bed to get enough space, ok built;

- buy an oldish (~40yrs) house, larger drive, not much bigger gardens, not much bigger rooms, seem poorly built;

- buy an older (1920s or so) house, large drive, large gardens, large rooms (a 3bed would be bigger than a 4 bed newer house), ok built but fairly energy inefficient;

Older houses fit my requirements better because of the overall size (irrespective of number of bedrooms) and large gardens, but I don't know how well built these houses are, how long they would last before they need to be flattened and rebuilt.

Has anybody got any thoughts on this and the (longer term) implications on the UK housing market?

I'd look at how long they've been respectively standing.

The question I'd ask is "How well built are modern houses, and how long will they last before they need to be flattened and rebuilt. At least the 1920's houses have a track record.

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I ran into the Chief Executive of our local mutual building society at a social function ten years ago and had a long chat with him about the property market.

His main concern was that he was expected to lend on valuations of houses already long past their planned life expectancy. Vast swathes of Victorian terraces and 1930's semis were never built to last more than 50 years or so yet are being mortgaged for 25 years for the best part of a quarter of a mill...

He saw this as a huge looming problem back then. Clearly it has become a bigger potential problem now. I wonder how general his fears are in the mortgage lending business.

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I'd look at how long they've been respectively standing.

The question I'd ask is "How well built are modern houses, and how long will they last before they need to be flattened and rebuilt. At least the 1920's houses have a track record.

fair enough, I certainly can't see the house I currently rent (1960s) lasting 80-90 years, as for newer houses I don't know, some builder fiends think they are OTT but they look flimsy to me. The thing is, I would rather have a larger plot than a newer house, the house can be fixed but the plot can't be increased.

More generally, this must be the case all over the UK, if newer houses are not a well built as older houses, what will happen to them in the next few decades and how much more money will be thrown at them to keep them going?

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While on the look for somewhere to live (around Bristol), I have come across three options (essentially):

- buy a newish (~10yrs old) house in newish "developments", tiny drive, tiny garden, tiny rooms, needing a 4 bed to get enough space, ok built;

- buy an oldish (~40yrs) house, larger drive, not much bigger gardens, not much bigger rooms, seem poorly built;

- buy an older (1920s or so) house, large drive, large gardens, large rooms (a 3bed would be bigger than a 4 bed newer house), ok built but fairly energy inefficient;

- buy an even older (~1880s or so) Victorian mansion after its former owner is thrown into jail and discover several corpses mouldering under the floorboards.

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I ran into the Chief Executive of our local mutual building society at a social function ten years ago and had a long chat with him about the property market.

His main concern was that he was expected to lend on valuations of houses already long past their planned life expectancy. Vast swathes of Victorian terraces and 1930's semis were never built to last more than 50 years or so yet are being mortgaged for 25 years for the best part of a quarter of a mill...

He saw this as a huge looming problem back then. Clearly it has become a bigger potential problem now. I wonder how general his fears are in the mortgage lending business.

That is exactly what is happening around here (Bristol) only 1930s semi houses are more in the region of 1/3 of a mill when they are not 1/2...

Nonetheless they have lasted this long already indeed, what defines a life expectancy, what happens beyond? Is it just a case of renovating/modernising or is it more profound like major structural issues?

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You have to remember when comparing modern houses to older ones that we're selecting only the very best of the old ones (i.e. the ones that survived), and they may have needed a lot of expensive work done to them over the years.

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I've been told by various EAs that the best built houses in Brighton* are from the 1930s. Before then many houses had worse designs and older building techniques, while after then there was more cost cutting. Having said that, it's going to take a lot to make a Victorian terrace fall down, regardless of how poorly they were built.

(* which really isn't saying much)

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I ran into the Chief Executive of our local mutual building society at a social function ten years ago and had a long chat with him about the property market.

His main concern was that he was expected to lend on valuations of houses already long past their planned life expectancy. Vast swathes of Victorian terraces and 1930's semis were never built to last more than 50 years or so yet are being mortgaged for 25 years for the best part of a quarter of a mill...

The idea that houses only last 50 years is complete and utter nonsense.

tim

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If a house has already been standing for around 80 years and the brick work etc... is in good condition the house will be fine for a number of decades.

If the house has been built well it will last for a long time, if it's poorly maintained and is a bit of 5h1ttip it won't last long.

Most of the old crap stock in the slums has already been cleared and rebuilt.

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If a house has already been standing for around 80 years and the brick work etc... is in good condition the house will be fine for a number of decades.

If the house has been built well it will last for a long time, if it's poorly maintained and is a bit of 5h1ttip it won't last long.

Most of the old crap stock in the slums has already been cleared and rebuilt.

[TFH]

It does make you wonder if they are building in obsolescence to the housing stock, in order to provide for future work / future requirement to re-buy housing.

After all, how long does it take the nation to pay the bankers to entirely own all the houses, and therefore not need mortgages?

[/TFH]

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Old houses are rubbish -those 16th century timber frame buildings need pulling down....

I'd rather take a risk on something built in the 1920s than one of these new build monstrosities.

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I've never heard of a Victorian house falling down all by itself, so it can't be that common. And there's tons of Georgian houses that are still going strong, so I'm not going to worry about buying a 20th century house.

My mate's a builder and he advised me to buy any house apart from a 1980s house. He reckons building quality was at its absolute lowest during that decade (I blame Thatcher ;) ).

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I ran into the Chief Executive of our local mutual building society at a social function ten years ago and had a long chat with him about the property market.

His main concern was that he was expected to lend on valuations of houses already long past their planned life expectancy. Vast swathes of Victorian terraces and 1930's semis were never built to last more than 50 years or so yet are being mortgaged for 25 years for the best part of a quarter of a mill...

He saw this as a huge looming problem back then. Clearly it has become a bigger potential problem now. I wonder how general his fears are in the mortgage lending business.

Up till late 90's you could apply for grants to have new slate roof put on older/Victorian buildings. Amount you got depended on income.

So they must have thought it was worth the investment?

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I'm sat in a place built circa 1830, of and straight on to granite. The gable end walls are 4 feet thick, I kid you not. It will be here long after I am worm food.

My first house was a 30's semi, great layout (providing people have not knocked walls through to make it feel like a flat). If you put up insulated plasterboard and insulate the roof well, the energy use is fine. Plus they usually have chimneys so you can stick in a woodburner if need be.

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My nans ex council 1920s semi has the original windows and roof, both in good condition. Windows painted every 3 years but obviously single glazed .

Also most of the front garden picket fence is still sound.

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My mate's a builder and he advised me to buy any house apart from a 1980s house. He reckons building quality was at its absolute lowest during that decade (I blame Thatcher ;) ).

I agree about 1980s (especially late 80s) houses being terrible. They tend to have have small rooms (my flat had smaller rooms than some new builds today), plasterboard walls and some of them were still had tiny single glazed windows. My 1980s flat even had Economy 7 storage heaters. The kitchen and bathroom was really cheap - I ripped them out and upgraded them with 10 years.

All houses have their advantages and disadvantages. I personally like late 60/early 70s houses because they have large windows and let in plenty of light. The one I bought has solid internal walls and a concrete floor. One problem with older houses is they sometimes used asbestos soffits and facias, but I had the asbestos removed by a specialist team before having the new uPVC soffits and fascias fitted. House are like everything else - they need regular maintenance in order to keep them from falling down. There are several 400 year old houses in our village and the next village. These are still here because their owners have maintained their structure over the years.

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I had the same problem, couldn't decide between a 1920's house or a 1990's one. I wanted new build the wife wanted old.

What we did was compromise. We found a street that had old houses next to new ones , bought one of each , knocked them both down and built a house in a 1955 style on the plot. Everyone's a winner.

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When buying a home, look for quality materials used for example.....engineering bricks, thick joists in loft close together, take up corner of carpet look at floor boards, no boards or you will get creaking floors....good roof made with quality natural slate, thick walls....airy, healthy' light house with no sign of rising damp or dry rot...look at the gutters, look at the way the water runs off the land....

Todays' 4 bed is like yesterdays 2 bed....you can make as many bed rooms as you like a long as a single bed fits in it. ;)

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Of course time has weeded out most of the badly-built old houses, but even then I wouldn't be at all surprised if in 500 years time there will be more 19th century than 20th century houses left in the UK. FWIW my feeling is that we're past the worst of the latter 20th century lack of quality (in soldity rather than size), although the place I live in now was probably built in the 70s and doesn't have any obvious sign of problems or impending ones.

I suppose if it's not well built it'll be suffering after 50 years no matter what, if it is well built it'll go on for centuries if it's properly looked after. Another reason to avoid the 80s - the problems may not yet have started to become obvious, but stand a good chance of doing so whilst you're there.

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Older house fall short on insulation properties. 9inch walls, against modern cavity walls. Suspended vented timber floors, against solid concrete floors. Given the way energy cost are going now and in future it might be wise to buy a modern house on these grounds alone.

As for the build quality, specifications where not as strict in old days. For example depth of footing. Plastering was all on lath, so i'd expect to be re-plastering the whole house at some point. Exposed brickwork tends to get damaged by frost heave over time, chimney's especially, as bricks where not frost resistant then. Older houses will last your life time, but will need more money spent on them and cost more to run.

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I've been told by various EAs that the best built houses in Brighton* are from the 1930s. Before then many houses had worse designs and older building techniques, while after then there was more cost cutting. Having said that, it's going to take a lot to make a Victorian terrace fall down, regardless of how poorly they were built.

(* which really isn't saying much)

Brighton is special - just google Bungaroosh

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Older house fall short on insulation properties. 9inch walls, against modern cavity walls. Suspended vented timber floors, against solid concrete floors. Given the way energy cost are going now and in future it might be wise to buy a modern house on these grounds alone.

As for the build quality, specifications where not as strict in old days. For example depth of footing. Plastering was all on lath, so i'd expect to be re-plastering the whole house at some point. Exposed brickwork tends to get damaged by frost heave over time, chimney's especially, as bricks where not frost resistant then. Older houses will last your life time, but will need more money spent on them and cost more to run.

this is my main concern TBH, although I like the idea of big rooms, large drives and gardens, the EPC of the 1920s-1930s houses I am looking at are not good at all and it could indeed add up to a lot in terms of energy bills...

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There are plenty of 1920s houses still with lots of life in them.

Look out for:

1 Roof. If it has not had a new roof it will probably need one. Easy to tell just look at the others in the street.

2 Electrics. Will almost certainly have been rewired but get somebody you trust in to check how and if it was done

3 Plumbing. Lead pipes were still in use inthe 1920s so check they have been removed.

4 Walls. It will have 11inch cavity walls which is good for thermal insulation but be sure to instruct a surveyor who knows about cavity wall tie failure.

5 Windows The original windows may look nice but they will be very cold. Check there is no planning or conservation reason why you cant put modern ones in.

If you have some of these problems you might just want to treat them as an opportunirty to get the price down as they can be fixed. 1930s houses can be modernised to be very nice and I have seen plenty I would bet on to last another eighty years.

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  • 312 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

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      • down 5% +
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