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JoeDavola

Is 'modern' Housing Design Going To Age Terribly?

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From my experience of viewing recent (less than 10 years old) new builds, it's apparent to me that the build quality is somewhat lacking and it's going to cost some poor sod quite a lot to keep these things standing 50 years from now. They're also often tiny.

But if we remove those pitfalls, and take a newbuild house that is structurally sound and reasonably sized, but has the same 'design' that most newbuilds have (e.g. increasingly clinical, characterless rooms inside where every surface is white) - is there a risk this 'modern design' is going to seem awfully naff and dated in decades to come?

The reason I ask is that many people desire Victorian/Georgian houses; despite the fact that they're old and the cost of maintaining them is high, they seem to be timeless classics.

Whereas tower blocks from the 60's and 70's, which were at one point someone's 'vision of the future', look rather dated in comparison.

Does that make any sense?

Edited by JoeDavola

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If you are of the opinion that the quality of materials / robustness of the materials used and the design has been eroded over the last few decades you could get a situation where a large part of the housing stock requires significant refurbishment over a short timescale. Design life I believe is targeted to around 50 years.

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We're renting a 8 year old 'show house'. It's beginning to show its age. The handles on the double glazed windows are getting loose. The floorboards creak, switches are getting stuck and sockets are becoming loose.

It was for sale for 12 months before we rented it. All the above could have been yours for a mere £575k!

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A lot of people don't realise that when they were built Georgian houses, and to a certain extent even later period ones, were built to very poor standards. Even large homes needed serious change and commitment most of which was done by the victorians. Things like the chimney stack being too narrow to cut costs were commonplace

Edited by spunko2010

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From my experience of viewing recent (less than 10 years old) new builds, it's apparent to me that the build quality is somewhat lacking and it's going to cost some poor sod quite a lot to keep these things standing 50 years from now. They're also often tiny.

But if we remove those pitfalls, and take a newbuild house that is structurally sound and reasonably sized, but has the same 'design' that most newbuilds have (e.g. increasingly clinical, characterless rooms inside where every surface is white) - is there a risk this 'modern design' is going to seem awfully naff and dated in decades to come?

Yep. Same as with previous generations, especially anything mass-built since 1945.

On the plus side, quality seems to have crept up since the nadir of that post-war era (in some respects, such as plumbing, very considerably so), and even size is up a bit from the bottom.

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From my experience of viewing recent (less than 10 years old) new builds, it's apparent to me that the build quality is somewhat lacking and it's going to cost some poor sod quite a lot to keep these things standing 50 years from now. They're also often tiny.

But if we remove those pitfalls, and take a newbuild house that is structurally sound and reasonably sized, but has the same 'design' that most newbuilds have (e.g. increasingly clinical, characterless rooms inside where every surface is white) - is there a risk this 'modern design' is going to seem awfully naff and dated in decades to come?

The reason I ask is that many people desire Victorian/Georgian houses; despite the fact that they're old and the cost of maintaining them is high, they seem to be timeless classics.

Whereas tower blocks from the 60's and 70's, which were at one point someone's 'vision of the future', look rather dated in comparison.

Does that make any sense?

Depends I have a mansion built newish home. concrete floors brick or breeze block walls . Built 20 years ago and my first 'new' house . Newest house previously was 1927 built and before that Edwardian.

Many Edwardian houses like mine were the Barrett houses of the day rushed built and believe it or now designed as investments for rich out of town landowners to rent out, if you go round the back of a row of elegant Edwardian terraced houses circa 1910 you will see they are plain and very functional ( have a look next time you are on a train) made from cheap materials inside and the internal walls are faced with little more than mud !( probably re plastered now) but still a hundred times better than some of the estate houses now.

Anyway I have actually loved this house, solid, cheap to run , Victorian height ceilings and spacious. In fact always had a hankering for my old Edwardian house, but now ? No Garage , linked attached, constant repairs .

Victorian/Edwardian houses are an affordable luxury in this country due to our low energy prices for a cold country. Energy for instance is 5 times the price in Denmark which drives great new design.

Personally I am on the look out for an ugly as sin concrete/brick 50's detached house than can be remodelled into a hamptons looking house with cladding etc

My wife and I are minimalists which we can now indulge in as our children are older

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A lot of people don't realise that when they were built Georgian houses, and to a certain extent even earlier ones, were built to very poor standards. Even large homes needed serious change and commitment most of which was done by the victorians. Things like the chimney stack being too narrow to cut costs were commonplace

Survivorship bias there. Those older houses that remain are not the junk of their generations.

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I live in a house built <1900..... Nice large rooms and ceilings but the cost to heat the bloody thing in Winter is enormous.

It's a trade off modern insulated cheap to heat or large houses which have poor insulation but are expensive.

To be honest once you have covered the basics roof sound, new guttering, render all sealed and painted it costs no more in outside maintenance than a modern property.

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Lathe and plaster ceilings, horse hair plaster, lead pipes, VIR cable where the insulation falls off

Have at them, I'd rather have a modern house that is simple bigger and not mass produced.

A bit like the Georgian houses were in the day

Sad that people think keeping these 100 year old heaps going is the only way to achieve space and character. (And that Planning and price have made them think this way)

Edited by chronyx

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Lathe and plaster ceilings, horse hair plaster, lead pipes, VIR cable where the insulation falls off

Have at them, I'd rather have a modern house that is simple bigger and not mass produced.

A bit like the Georgian houses were in the day

Sad that people think keeping these 100 year old heaps going is the only way to achieve space and character. (And that Planning and price have made them think this way)

Forgot my parents converted a front room of an Edwardian house to a garage imagine that now !! Anyway it involved an extended piece for the door etc of perhaps 4 foot , the underpinnings were 5 times deeper than the main house due to modern regs !!

In fact in the summer of 76 the whole front of the house nearly fell off due to subsidence our joke was the only thing left standing would of been that bit !

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Survivorship bias there. Those older houses that remain are not the junk of their generations.

In the main but there are row upon row of those renter built Edwardian houses in London that are now expensive junk due to the bubble

Edited by Greg Bowman

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I've owned a lot of houses from nearly new build to Georgian and the weird thing is i am having least trouble now with a largish 1969 detached bungalow, not a popular style with Brits. It still has the original wooden windows of half a century ago and they look nearly new, the eaves of the house have probably helped shelter them. It's a breeze block and stone construction under a hardrow (fake stone) roof. After 3 months I am yet to identify any major faults and I am the sort of chap to come up with a whole page load.

The worst was a 1953 bungalow. It was double brick construction and overly insulated with new double glazing and cavity wall insulation. the inside just didn't breath, moisture failed to escape and soaked the walls and i had to resort to some expensive vebntilation systems. The period stuff (Victorian/ Georgian)looks pretty but the maintenance is huge

So in conclusion i have to go for the unloved 1960s mark one breeze block (interior skinned) houses as probably the best buillt. Not what i would have expected. Yep post 1990s new build just tin pot.

Also have to disagree with the plumbing thing. Bathroom and kitchen quality has got less robust, also rads are a quarter of the thickness of the 1960s models. iwas puzzled when I viewd a house of a well known plumber who had retained his 1950s rads. He told me these can last 100 years, a modern pressed steel rad can be shot in just two years. I guess this is a plumber's secret, they want to change them for inferior modern ones to make money. Yep my rads are 1969 originals. incidentally the single glazing and old rads make very little difference to the EPC rating.....55 as opposed to 60.......the previous owner's joint fuel bill was £48 a month.

Edited by crashmonitor

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Few houses, old and modern, in the UK seem to be well built. For ours (circa 1900 ex-bakery/general store) it was clearly built/repaired with with whatever crap was to hand and in some cases only the wood chip wallpaper was holding up the walls. Also took quite a bit of work to actually get damp to stop seeping in during heavy storms. Modern houses function better - but seriously lack indoor and outdoor space and use very flimsy materials sometimes.

All features/interiors date - a lot of fancy ceiling plaster work in many old house was ripped out in the 70s/80s. Avocado bathrooms are no longer popular. I expect today's mores will do so too. It'll be out with the shabby chic, out with the minimalist look, out with the marble work tops etc.

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I live in a house built <1900..... Nice large rooms and ceilings but the cost to heat the bloody thing in Winter is enormous.

It's a trade off modern insulated cheap to heat or large houses which have poor insulation but are expensive.

The 8 year old house I referred to above only has an EPC rating of 29! I'm anticipating an expensive Winter.....

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I referred to a bad experience with a double brick construction house when living in Nottingham. I hadn't experienced this type of property before having lived in the mainly stone houses (which work fine) of the Peak District all my life. Just wondering how other people get on with these? because this must be most of the houses in the South of England built before the advent of the breeze block around 1955. They just don't breath and it's compouded by double glazing and cavity wall insulation.

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All contemporary design looks dated after 20-30 years.

Then, after that, they become classics.

Cars, houses, clothes - all the same.

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I'm gonna go against the grain on this but I really can't see the hate for georgian, edwardian and victorian terraced houses (in London at least which is all I know about). We're 100+ years down the line, so a vast majority will now have had at least one new roof, new electrics, windows etc. If it's not fallen down in a 100+ years, it's pretty much not going to anytime soon (unless something drastic happens to the moisture level in the London clay so much of London is built on)

IMHO I think they make excellent housing stock and were built in the day when labour was cheap and plentiful - I used to know an old skool joiner and carpenter who said the standard of woodwork now was pretty dire, but that back in the day, everything had proper joinery as opposed to say a plasterboard partition nowadays that is predominantly butt-joints (this was circa 15 years ago, maybe regs have changed)

As for newbuild I've seen some well built ones that I'd happily buy (I did once) and some absolute sh!t that will need major work just as the housebuilder guarantee expires

I particularly don't understand this fad for wooden cladding on the outside which will invariably need painting/scaffolding to maintain and the ensuing maintenence charge

Edited by knock out johnny

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I particularly don't understand this fad for wooden cladding on the outside which will invariably need painting/scaffolding to maintain and the ensuing maintenence charge

They do look odd in Blighty.

But in parts of the world, wooden houses are the norm. A wooden house in Sweden is likely to be thoroughly well-built and robust, not to mention warm in winter.

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Give me the old house any day, I'd gladly see just about everything built in the last hundred years knocked down as being a significant contributor towards the bland, often outright ugly, soul-destroying characterless rubbish that makes up most of modern Britain. We're not quite as bad on that front as we have been, although most efforts to be better have a spat-out-by-a-machine feel about them, as well as a bit of a "fake" feeling. That may reduce a bit when they've been up for a few decades to take the edge of newness off them.

My house is 19th century (not sure exactly when), sure, it gets a bit chilly in winter but it's not really that bad or expensive (but then I'm not one of these people who insist a house has to be heated to shorts and T-shirt conditions all the time, nothing wrong with wearing a wooly jumper indoors). It could do with some more insulation in the loft and not having the letter slot going straight in to the sitting room but I'm not that concerned about heating.

An old place might need more repairs but if it's survived to now it's unlikely to be fundamentally unsound. I suspect that in 500 years time there will be more 19th century buildings in the UK than 20th century ones.

Modern housing design won't age terribly because it wasn't any good from the start. I blame this at least in part over having too much of a beak once people tried doing weird things with modern materials. None of them worked from an aesthetic point of view, but with that evolutionary break it's either "something modern (which are "meh" at best)" or "ape the past". Another problem with them is that they lack the interesting little nooks and crannies, they're almost always too smooth, neatly angled, and straightforward.

Edited by Riedquat

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They do look odd in Blighty.

But in parts of the world, wooden houses are the norm. A wooden house in Sweden is likely to be thoroughly well-built and robust, not to mention warm in winter.

Fair enough, do the swedish use a well seasoned hardwood or something?

All I see on the newbuild in this country is cr@ppy light pine that stains and looks like sh!t in absolutely no time

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If you were to ask my Mum what was the best designed property in which she lived I have a feeling it would be the post war prefab they rented off the local council in he 1950s. Certainly it had the best planned kitchen. Its major drawback was a lack off decent insulation. The fact we are still essentially craft building houses in the UK two centuries after the industrial revolution says it all really. Given some of the 'craftsmen' are of less than spectacular quality it is not surprising the houses are poor as well.

BTW people with rosy views of Edwardian and Victorian housing tend to forget that it is mainly the middle class ones that survive. Most of the working class slums were demolished decades ago

Edited by stormymonday_2011

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BTW people with rosy views of Edwardian and Victorian housing tend to forget that it is mainly the middle class ones that survive. Most of the working class slums were demolished decades ago

There are rather a lot of plain Victorian terraces still standing. Anyway, since we're talking about old housing now and not actually living in those times I don't think that represents a rosey view. Nothing wrong with keeping the good bits of the past and getting rid of the bad ones, that's just sense. Indeed rather a lot of old buildings are probably at their best these days, with things like electricity and mains sewage added to them.

If you were to ask my Mum what was the best designed property in which she lived I have a feeling it would be the post war prefab they rented off the local council in he 1950s. Certainly it had the best planned kitchen.

The house I rented before moving to this one was 1970s (I think, could've been early 80s) and it's surprising just how useless and pokey the kitchen in it was, unsurprisingly a lot of other ones in the same area of the same design had had kitchen extensions.

Edited by Riedquat

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My house was built in 1962 and is adequately constructed with no serious defects or imperfections, the interior walls are Ziegel blocks with the exterior being leightweight London brick as was the fashion at the time. Proper roof construction, probably the last to use purlins rather than prefabricated trusses. Big plus is that it is really cheap to heat once modern windows were fitted and the loft thoroughly insulated.

My big concern would be the modern four storey timber framed blocks of flats marketed as appartments. How these will fare in 25-30 years time with their single skin exterior bick walls tied to a timber frame stuffed with insulation and black plastic sheeting will be an interesting one to watch.

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The core of my place is about 200 years old; and was once a barn. Really thick solid brick walls; no cavity or damp course. It was converted in the 80s and doubled in size. I think the builders must have run out of money as, while the structure is sound (solid walls throughout), the finishing is shite (flimsiest doors I've ever seen).

I've compared it against a >£1m newbuild I know and mine wins on every measure except glamour. It's wonderfully cool in summer, for instance.

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There are rather a lot of plain Victorian terraces still standing. Anyway, since we're talking about old housing now and not actually living in those times I don't think that represents a rosey view. Nothing wrong with keeping the good bits of the past and getting rid of the bad ones, that's just sense. Indeed rather a lot of old buildings are probably at their best these days, with things like electricity and mains sewage added to them.

The house I rented before moving to this one was 1970s (I think, could've been early 80s) and it's surprising just how useless and pokey the kitchen in it was, unsurprisingly a lot of other ones in the same area of the same design had had kitchen extensions.

You will be surprised how many of those plain Victorian or Edwardian terraces were occupied by the middle or lower middle class Pooters of the sort described in the Diary of a Nobody. Years ago I lived in a Victorian terrace house in Leicester that still had the little bells on the kitchen wall that were used to summon the servant. Unless it is a surviving back to back in an industrial town it is unlikely many of those houses were designed for ordinary workers.

Certainly my grandmother would have taken the 1930s Council House she died in over the Edwardian or Victorian House she was born in any day.

Edited by stormymonday_2011

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