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Should Many Old Houses Be Demolished & Rebuilt As They Are Redundant Technology ?


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Cost of a basic house might be 50-60 grand.

Nick Ferrari did a hostile interview with the Green Party leader today in which he was rubbishing her figures about the cost of building new houses. She said it costs about £60k to build a house and he said, "That would only buy you a conservatory." and, "What are they made of, plywood?".

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Nick Ferrari did a hostile interview with the Green Party leader today in which he was rubbishing her figures about the cost of building new houses. She said it costs about £60k to build a house and he said, "That would only buy you a conservatory." and, "What are they made of, plywood?".

Clearly the words of a man who hasn't purchased plywood recently.

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Having lived in different housing in UK from Victorian to brand new I know which I prefer for comfort. Victorian houses are cold and draughty unless you spend a fortune on heating. Plus they are money pits for mainteneance and have hidden problems eg rotting joists and damp yet are praised for their "features" by the likes of Kirsty and Phil. OK they may have a bit more soul than your average new build but they can quickly turn into a bit of a nightmare.

Modern new builds are generally warmer to live in as they have double glazing and are better insulated plus you get some benefit from "passive solar" heating ie the sun shines in via patio doors etc whereas the design of Victorian buildings being genereally long and thin in terraces means they are generally darker as well as colder.

I don't know if it was a bit of a conspiracy to make us all hanker after period property and to make us a bit gaga about "features" etc. Perhaps so as otherwise if everyone in UK wanted more modern we'd be done for as most of the avialable housing is Victorian. Another of the ways we are deluded about property??

It comes down to the environment too, not just the house. New houses sited on tiny plots, no front gardens or privacy and the prime residential areas built on years ago. I guess ideally you would want the best of both worlds a new house on a traditional plot. Very few, and when there is the odd individual new build it is priced accordingly except in bombed out rural areas with land a plenty like North Lincolnshire.

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Makes about as much sense as buying a brand new car "for the fuel savings".

Let's take the house I used to live in - Victorian 4 bed semi detached in London. Nice high ceilings, no cavity walls, built in 1850. We put double glazed sash windows in and insulated the hell out of the roof - as much insulation as the rafters would take (6") and celotex in the roof itself. The only really cold bit of the house was the side extension which had a flat roof from the 1980s with no insulation in it at all.

Heating bill was about £800 - 1000 a year, including DHW.

We ran the house as the Victorians would have - the upstairs bedrooms were cool, downstairs living space was warm.

I'm sure that in a more modern house, we might have got the bills down to £400 a year. So by knocking it down and rebuilding (say at a cost of £250K) - we'd save £600 a year. Not much of a business case.

We've just been through a major building project where we currently live. From experience this winter:

- drafts up into the roof space make a massive difference.

- decent windows make a massive difference.

- proper floors (not damp) make a massive difference.

- a basic level of loft insulation makes a good difference. No discernable difference between 4" in the loft and 8".

- I cannot tell the difference between rooms with a 2014 spec cavity wall and 1850s brick

Strikes me that most old houses can be updated reasonably cost effectively rather than pulled down.....

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Makes about as much sense as buying a brand new car "for the fuel savings".

Let's take the house I used to live in - Victorian 4 bed semi detached in London. Nice high ceilings, no cavity walls, built in 1850. We put double glazed sash windows in and insulated the hell out of the roof - as much insulation as the rafters would take (6") and celotex in the roof itself. The only really cold bit of the house was the side extension which had a flat roof from the 1980s with no insulation in it at all.

Heating bill was about £800 - 1000 a year, including DHW.

We ran the house as the Victorians would have - the upstairs bedrooms were cool, downstairs living space was warm.

I'm sure that in a more modern house, we might have got the bills down to £400 a year. So by knocking it down and rebuilding (say at a cost of £250K) - we'd save £600 a year. Not much of a business case.

We've just been through a major building project where we currently live. From experience this winter:

- drafts up into the roof space make a massive difference.

- decent windows make a massive difference.

- proper floors (not damp) make a massive difference.

- a basic level of loft insulation makes a good difference. No discernable difference between 4" in the loft and 8".

- I cannot tell the difference between rooms with a 2014 spec cavity wall and 1850s brick

Strikes me that most old houses can be updated reasonably cost effectively rather than pulled down.....

+1

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I like my techie toys, and so far every place I have lived in has lacked plug sockets.

Or plug sockets at a correct height...not halfway up a wall...and not against the floor.And two in a room..*sigh*...adding more is ok..extension cords or even channeling a wall and doing it manually, but it is a PITA because you then need to redecorate. I'm lazy like that.

Watch some shows on tv with american remodelling and everything has cavity walls with zillions of spare cables for upgrading, whole house sound systems, integrated hoovering sucking ducts. Yes..wireless Sonos etc exists, but sometimes you cant beat a cable. Make a hole, fish tape, drag it about, end of. Have a few spare for later use....just make it expandable.

I'd like a house like that.

Even fitting a doorbell to this house I live in now was a chore, and the result is an eyesore.

A doorbell? Yes, we didnt have one. How "quaint"

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The best Victorian/Georgian etc. houses define an area/town/city, they are part of our history & heritage and a lot of people would not want to see them be replaced with modern builds. The best, and even some of the more modest ones have incredible architecture, and it's difficult to say where the cut off point is for 'heritage value', as a row of plain terraces might look fit for bulldozing for some, but inside they can be incredible homes and their occupants value their little slice of history or family heirloom. But if no one cares for them and they are past saving and don't add to an area, then they should go.

Draught issues in old properties are usually easy enough to solve. Chimney breasts are bloody thick and don't feel colder to the touch than a modern cavity wall. most have large bay windows that let in lots of light, and high ceilings make pokey rooms feel more spacious. Long narrow terraces involve walking about half a mile to get from the front bedroom to the kitchen - so it's good for your fitness too :)

Agree with the OP, new builds need to be cutting edge, not the Wimpey Georgian-esque brick homes that have changed little from the 70's, their biggest advancement seems to of been the USB equipped plug socket :blink: In some areas I've seen them try to build replicas of Edwardian bay windowed semi's, they just look wrong, and inside they look exactly the same as any new build. Building industry needs a kick up the ass, into the 21st century.

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I have a very strong feeling that if this idea was acted on by developers / government, it would be used as a device to further limit the supply of housing, maximise profit and encourage HPI.

1) The plan would be announced with much fanfare as a progressive idea put forward by the existing LibLabCon government and a means to increase housing stock / build energy efficient, affordable family homes yadda yadda...

2) Old housing stock would be compulsory-purchased or bought with empty promises from existing owners at knock-down prices ("after all, they are energy inefficient / have structural problems / are to be demolished...") Of course, only appointed developers would be able to have access to the land and existing owners would not be allowed to have their homes rebuilt themselves.

3) They would stand empty / abandoned for several years

4) Eventually demolished

5) Over the next few years Much "debate" / "discussion" / deliberating / meetings would occur with corresponding nimbyism from local homeowners, regarding the number of units, style, exact location, layout, impact on the community etc etc.

6) Eventually the "luxury" / "well-appointed" new homes would be built, miniscule floor area, tiny gardens, far fewer than the original number proposed and fewer than the original number of houses that once stood on the site.

7) Put up for sale at some ridiculous price, along with the obligatory token "affordability" scheme, whatever the equivalent of HTB is at the time.

Edit again to add step 8) We start to hear rumours of complaints from new homeowners about the poor build quality / that the house is not as efficient as advertised to be / subsidence etc etc...

Edit: not entirely sure how they would engineer step 2 but somehow, developers would get their grubby mitts on the old houses for much less than the average pleb would be expected to pay for a house.

Edited by FedupTeddiBear
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There's a really easy way to do this, and most of the infrastructure is already in place.

You take the current Council Tax band (A - H), and EPC (A - H) and multiply one by the other, so an H house with H energy would pay H x H in council tax.

Old inefficient house stock would soon fall by the wayside.

Seriously?

You do realise an EPC is so superficial that even such matters as whether insulation exists or not are 'assumed' because they can't be bothered to find out and all double glazing is rated equally if it is AA rated or 20 years old. The recommended measures on my property includes solar PV panels costing £9-14k and saving me £238 a year. Apart from pointing out the bloody obvious - when you replace the boiler, get a room thermostat too - it wasn't worth the wasted fuel coming here to do the survey. Of course homes only get an EPC when they are sold or rented, so someone would be looking at a massive bill to rate every home, and rerate them every time they are improved.

Now why multiply the numbers? If someone in a £1m house 'should' pay £8k (A=£1k) year in property tax and someone who burns 40k KWH of gas per year pays a hypothetical and ludicrous green tax of on this of £800 (A=1, H=8).

Band A home, with Band A efficiency pays say £1k x 1 = £1k (instead of £1.1k)

Band H home and Band A efficiency pays £8k x 1 = £8k

Band H home and Band H efficiency pays £8k * 8 = £64k (instead of £8.8k)

Band A home and Band H efficiency pays £1k * 8 = £8k

Band D home and Band D efficiency pays £4k * 4 = £16k (instead of £4.4k)

The tax paid has been completely decoupled from the harm, sin or externality caused, so it is a hopelessly economically inefficient allocation of resources. Some people will getting CHP systems just to save thousands in tax, not to mention knocking down perfectly good housing stock, which would cause far more pollution than replacing it saves.

Edited by Wayo
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2) Old housing stock would be compulsory-purchased or bought with empty promises from existing owners at knock-down prices ("after all, they are energy inefficient / have structural problems / are to be demolished...")

Agree with all these points, but lets dwell on this a little?

Is this Communism or worse? Seizure of private property is bad enough when it is for a major infrastructure project. Let's just think about just how vile this idea is.

Private owners are rarely properly compensated - look the scandal over the gaps in compensation for HS2. As soon as the policy is announced, all owners will be blighted, many for decades under their property is taken on. Many will need to sell or move in that time, and those living nearby will be blighted if areas become so blighted that shops and amenities close and depopulation occurs. Then there is the blight on those living in established residential areas, which suddenly do become building sites, not mentioning that developers deliberately build slowly to keep prices up.

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It would seem to me that in a genuine free-market, the building value would depreciate over its design life, I.e. as the existing building gets nearer to its end-of-life then the market value of the build + land would be nearer to just the land value.

It would then be viable to buy up old properties, with the intention of demolition and building a new modern property.

The fact this isn't happening is just another sign of a dysfunctional/rigged market?

The buildings aren't nearing their end of life. There are plenty of stone built dwellings that have stood for over 200 years and will stand for 200 more. Even FTBs aren't thinking beyond the next 50 years, and few as far as that. The only logic for demolition is to build up or squeeze more units onto the same footprint.

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I like my techie toys, and so far every place I have lived in has lacked plug sockets.

Or plug sockets at a correct height...not halfway up a wall...and not against the floor.And two in a room..*sigh*...adding more is ok..extension cords or even channeling a wall and doing it manually, but it is a PITA because you then need to redecorate. I'm lazy like that.

Watch some shows on tv with american remodelling and everything has cavity walls with zillions of spare cables for upgrading, whole house sound systems, integrated hoovering sucking ducts. Yes..wireless Sonos etc exists, but sometimes you cant beat a cable. Make a hole, fish tape, drag it about, end of. Have a few spare for later use....just make it expandable.

I'd like a house like that.

Even fitting a doorbell to this house I live in now was a chore, and the result is an eyesore.

A doorbell? Yes, we didnt have one. How "quaint"

Wireless and batteries will soon make much of this redundant. When you can flash charge a tablet as quickly as moving a fridge magnet people will hark back to the days when you had to leave your smartphone for 2hrs a day with an uninterrupted electrical contact to every power station connected to the National Grid.

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Surely the challenge will be identifying who picks up the cost? Assuming annual heating bills of £1.5k for an inefficient house, and a £60k rebuild cost (which is probably a massive underestimation) it would take 30 years minimum to recoup the cost, and probably much much longer. Where is the incentive for someone to rebuild? When I looked into it even EWI is cost prohibitive (15+ years payback).

However, if you forced rebuild or suffer enormous council tax bills it would certainly crash a very large portion of the market....

It does not cost anything like £1.5k to heat even a very inefficient house. Unless it is one of these passive houses, it will still cost to heat afterwards. Even the most inefficient house can be improved on a far better cost/benefit ratio that rebuilding. However the cost/benefit ratio even of improving, which says something about this thread really...

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Having lived in different housing in UK from Victorian to brand new I know which I prefer for comfort. Victorian houses are cold and draughty unless you spend a fortune on heating. Plus they are money pits for mainteneance and have hidden problems eg rotting joists and damp yet are praised for their "features" by the likes of Kirsty and Phil. OK they may have a bit more soul than your average new build but they can quickly turn into a bit of a nightmare.

Modern new builds are generally warmer to live in as they have double glazing and are better insulated plus you get some benefit from "passive solar" heating ie the sun shines in via patio doors etc whereas the design of Victorian buildings being genereally long and thin in terraces means they are generally darker as well as colder.

I don't know if it was a bit of a conspiracy to make us all hanker after period property and to make us a bit gaga about "features" etc. Perhaps so as otherwise if everyone in UK wanted more modern we'd be done for as most of the avialable housing is Victorian. Another of the ways we are deluded about property??

Very modern houses can suffer badly from damp, mould and condensation caused by lack of ventilation. As long as they are not maltreated 'classic houses' will easily outlast their owners. Very little housing stock >25 years old hasn't had new windows and plenty of red brick pre-war houses have 'AA' rated patio doors, skylights and loft conversions these days.

The vast majority of heating losses are roofspace and windows, the former being the cheapest thing to fix, the latter gets done anyway, even in most social housing nowadays.

Edited by Wayo
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Yes, anything pre-1930's with no heritage value should be demolished and replaced. I pick the 1930's because this is when cavity walls started to go mainstream, but I guess if we were looking at the technicalities of poor insulation, space consumed by firepalces, zero parking I would have to pick a date in the 60's. Like is said above it needs to be encouraged rather than forced.

In reality the only way this can ever happen is if the land value the house sits on is worthless or a liability. It would encourage the house to become abandoned and demolished.

High residential land prices mask the fact that most of UK houses are a worthless liability.

Look at Japan - high land prices and on average half of the new - high quality included - homes built are demolished within 40 years.

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100 year old houses are still standing and functional ,i just wonder what the new barrat boxes of today will look like in a 100 years if they are still standing

There's an estate near me built about 12 years ago it looked really smart when built with the coloured render and fancy face brick ,without a doubt these places will be more energy efficient than the old stuff,but 12 years on its looking really run down render cracking /discoloured, brickwork /pointing colour running,some of the brickwork is suffering with spalling (this is not a easy/cheap problem to rectify and they are 12 year old)

Then i look at the 100+ year old terraces around them that have just had some sort of regeneration gran work done ,basically they have had new windows,stone work sand blasted and repointed ,new faceuers and guttering and they look as good as new

The problem i see is the new technology is being put into practice ,but the materials that are used are inferior /substandard all this is down to profit margins of the builders ,theres no thought of quality it`s all about aesthetics and price ,as long as it looks good when built they don't care if its going to be falling apart in 25 years time

Edited by long time lurking
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It does not cost anything like £1.5k to heat even a very inefficient house. Unless it is one of these passive houses, it will still cost to heat afterwards. Even the most inefficient house can be improved on a far better cost/benefit ratio that rebuilding. However the cost/benefit ratio even of improving, which says something about this thread really...

It costs upwards of £1500 a year to heat my house (3 storey detached Victorian property, about 200sqm). We have smart meters and are using about £12-14 a day in gas at the moment. A young baby at home all day means the house has to be heated 16+ hours a day is the main reason. There isn't much that can realistically be done to improve it as it already has double glazing and new condensing boiler. It would still take decades to recoup the cost and energy usage involved in replacing with a modern house though.

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Nick Ferrari did a hostile interview with the Green Party leader today in which he was rubbishing her figures about the cost of building new houses. She said it costs about £60k to build a house and he said, "That would only buy you a conservatory." and, "What are they made of, plywood?".

Teeside is still in the UK...Barratt (admittedly not much better than plywood) are building up there from £70k...could probably negotiate a couple of grand off that.

http://www.barratthomes.co.uk/new-homes/cleveland/H249201-Meadow-Rise/home-list/

Only reason you cant buy for that down south is land shortages caused by planning. Not even landowners. Landowners jump at the chance to get even £50k an acre...Its nearly 10 times what they would get as agricultural land.

That said, its woeful the green party woman didnt put up a bit of a fight and go into such things. Perhaps because she damn well knows building on the countryside (even if for social good) isnt what people consider 'green'

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It costs upwards of £1500 a year to heat my house (3 storey detached Victorian property, about 200sqm). We have smart meters and are using about £12-14 a day in gas at the moment. A young baby at home all day means the house has to be heated 16+ hours a day is the main reason. There isn't much that can realistically be done to improve it as it already has double glazing and new condensing boiler. It would still take decades to recoup the cost and energy usage involved in replacing with a modern house though.

Yeah, similar here. Like I said elsewhere, if we could save £1K/annum on energy that would give us the first £10K for renovations over what I would consider an acceptable payback period.

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A mix of housing stock makes towns more interesting. Our towns and cities would have looked a lot more cr*p now if the 'slum' clearance and new builds of the 60s and 70';s had been more prevalent.

Generally, the best old housing stock from each era has survived. For example, a lot of the back-to-back Victorian terrace housing and rookeries have gone, whereas the better built Victorian villas built for the more affluent have largely survived.

I'd say that UK towns on average look more attractive than those on the Continent. Beyond the picture postcard areas over there most of Europe is just a slum because of the uninspiring architecture and preference for modern concrete Brutalism. UK townscapes are by contrast very interesting because of our protection of historical facades.

Edited by crashmonitor
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It costs upwards of £1500 a year to heat my house (3 storey detached Victorian property, about 200sqm). We have smart meters and are using about £12-14 a day in gas at the moment. A young baby at home all day means the house has to be heated 16+ hours a day is the main reason. There isn't much that can realistically be done to improve it as it already has double glazing and new condensing boiler. It would still take decades to recoup the cost and energy usage involved in replacing with a modern house though.

Blimey. Would it be cheaper to send your missus and baby on a trip to the local shopping centre for the day, even factoring in coffee and cake you could save a fortune.

Or have you got a room with a gas fire?

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Blimey. Would it be cheaper to send your missus and baby on a trip to the local shopping centre for the day, even factoring in coffee and cake you could save a fortune.

Or have you got a room with a gas fire?

Trust me, telling my wife to spend more time at the mall would definitely result it additional expenditure far outweighing any savings on gas! :) she spends more than enough time and money in Westfield as it is.

What we need is a zonal heating system, as it is only really the kitchen/diner, playroom and baby's bedroom that need heating during the day.

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Trust me, telling my wife to spend more time at the mall would definitely result it additional expenditure far outweighing any savings on gas! :) she spends more than enough time and money in Westfield as it is.

What we need is a zonal heating system, as it is only really the kitchen/diner, playroom and baby's bedroom that need heating during the day.

Even a fairly chunky 27KW boiler could only burn through 650KwWH in a day, and with a market leading tariff of 3.1p/KwH that is only £20/day in variable charges, given that the weather can get a lot colder than it is now.

A well extended semi is only about 120sq m, so this is for almost two houses really. Al Gore famously paid $24,000 a year.

Presumably a zonal system would pay for itself in a few months, if controlling the individual radiators manually isn't working out?

Recommended temperature for babies is something like 18-21C - although I know a few people who would have it closer to 28C, even after the kids had left for University.

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Nick Ferrari did a hostile interview with the Green Party leader today in which he was rubbishing her figures about the cost of building new houses. She said it costs about £60k to build a house and he said, "That would only buy you a conservatory." and, "What are they made of, plywood?".

Ferrari has probably been watching too much Grand Designs. 200sq m, a solid wall of triple glazing, 15 roof windows, landscaped garden, wind turbine, one off design, made to measure timber frame imported from Germany. Developers can put together houses for not much more than £60k, of course in West London they probably do charge that for conservatories.

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