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JoeDavola

Is 'modern' Housing Design Going To Age Terribly?

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I think that's true - you need to compare apples with apples.

The slaveboxe equivalent of a century ago were probably razed under slum clearance programmes.

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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.

Yep been pleasantly surprised by my 1960s house, bought because it had panoramic views and no neighbours. Not really a style of house I like. Meanwhile most get contemporised...the old wooden picture Windows are ripped out for stone lintels and plastic inserts as is the fashion in rural areas. Just wonder if in future years largely unaltered ones will be more valued that keep the 60s architectural integrity. Unaltered thirties houses are now prized.

The big advance was a block interior wall, a double brick skin is trouble and doesn't work with modern insulation. Not such a problem with period stone property.

Edited by crashmonitor

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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.

I have something similar - an old stone barn conversion farmhouse from the early 1800's. The walls are thick and solid, and some of the beams are as old as the house. I think it will still be standing in a few hundred years time. Old houses need work though. Insulation can be poor and mice sometimes find their way in through the nooks and crannies. I hate being woken up by a scratching mouse that's found its way into the wall cavity behind your bed in the night.

I find it stays nice and cool on those hot summer days, and the rooms are spacious. I wouldn't trade it for a modern house, and I am also keen to see how some of these new builds stand the test of time over the decades. Incidentally, I use to rent a brick terraced house from around the 1910's I would guess. It suffered bad humidity issues, and the bricks and cement were eroding. On a day with bad weather, I'd step outside and find bits of it all over the pavement. I've also lived in a Paris apartment built in the 1890's. Fabulous high ceilings, decorative cornices, ornamental fireplaces and wooden floors, but they never update the piping in these old Haussmann buildings. I had all sorts of humidity and flooding problems over the years caused by tenants higher up, and then it takes a year to dry out the affected ceilings and doors before they can be fixed. It's a common issue. The floors also echo the moment someone upstairs comes in at 2am wearing high heels. You can even be woken up by people having sex a couple of floors above.

Edited by You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet

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

Are you kidding? They're the boreal forest. The world's supply of softwood.

Same applies to other countries in the boreal belt. Well, certainly Scandinavia, and I believe also vast swathes of Russia, Canada, etc.

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I looked at this site recently: Evolution of building elements

It states that even back in the twenties, footings should be 3' deep, and 3x wall thickness, and surely the most important thing about a house is the walls?

Most 1980s+ houses appear shoddy to me. There is so much wood in them, that the stairs squeek, and the flooring bounces. It is difficult to fix anything on the walls because there is nothing of substance inside. One of the worst aspects is the roof trusses which are now made off-site. The wood is thin, so the extra cross bracing means that there is just no useful room in the loft space---its and area the size of the plan of the house that has gone to waste to save a few hundred pounds. If modern houses are to be torn down and rebuilt every 50 years, I wonder whether the overall energy efficiency is any higher than a solidly-built older house?

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Are you kidding? They're the boreal forest. The world's supply of softwood.

Same applies to other countries in the boreal belt. Well, certainly Scandinavia, and I believe also vast swathes of Russia, Canada, etc.

Yep we are the only country that builds houses to last centuries. Behind every US blingy home you have a 50 year lifespan....Not such good value after all.

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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.

There are still prefabs in the village I grew up in. They now have a brick skin, but mainly for cosmetic reasons. They are solid, and warm now the crittall windows have been replaced. The residents love them. The shame is that the government could, if they had a will, build millions of these in factories for the cost of peanuts. I visited a park home site recently that was absolutely charming, and in the summer I visited the Humberston Fitties near Grimsby that were mainly wood, but had real character, so there is no reason for them to be grotty or depressing...quite the opposite.

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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.

There's a huge amount of building going on in Filton at the moment, some wooden clad, but most are rendered. I do wonder about how these three and four storey homes will look in a few decades. It is no simple matter to get to that height to perform maintenance since scaffolding would be required. Already, the white render is stained green with algae, and they've barely been up more than a couple of years.

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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

Not sure it's hate ?

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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

Meant doing it properly hence decent building underneath

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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

Most Victorian houses were built by speculative builders, often copying ideas from architecturally design houses and stately homes (which often took inspiration from earlier historical periods). There were few building regulations at the time but one area that was tightly regulated was the building of chimney breasts. They took that seriously presumably because of the extensive use of them and the associated risk of fire.

Build quality is a bit variable but the houses have stood the test of time. They had innovations such as damp courses, suspended wood floors etc. The houses were designed to breathe and prevent damp by circulating air through the floor, drawing it up the chimney. The roof was usually high quality Welsh slate which has a lifespan of 100 years+ (my house still has an intact slate roof - 120 years old).

These have often been mistreated over the years. In the 1960/1970s there was a fashion for removing original architraves and covering up door panels, for example. In recent years, perfectly good sash windows have been ripped out and replaced with cheap looking UPVC and original slates replaced with ugly concrete interlocking tiles (which require additional roof support).

I do appreciate a Victorian house, what I hate to see is when they are carved up into flats or HMOs - that is pure vandalism in my book.

Edited by mmt

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There are still prefabs in the village I grew up in.

There are lots of prefabs less than a mile from here. They were supposed to be emergency houses, to be replaced by about 1970.

Yep we are the only country that builds houses to last centuries. Behind every US blingy home you have a 50 year lifespan....Not such good value after all.

Huh? My grandparents' (wooden) house was built in the mid-19th century.

And their plumbing - from about the 1920s - was a whole lot better than British houses right into the 1980s.

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There are lots of prefabs less than a mile from here. They were supposed to be emergency houses, to be replaced by about 1970.

Huh? My grandparents' (wooden) house was built in the mid-19th century.

And their plumbing - from about the 1920s - was a whole lot better than British houses right into the 1980s.

Well by and large, plus a lot of the obsolescence abroad is probably out of choice as opposed to necessity. A bit like scrapping a car just because it's over six years old

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Will hopefully be moving into a place built around 1900. Seems pretty solid, but it has also had quite a lot of recent replacement work on electrics, heating, roof, brickwork(repointed plus removed chimney stacks) and Windows. I doubt I'd be keen to take on a doer upper example as some of the potential bills look ginormous and are rarely reflected in the asking prices in my experience.

Currently live in an area dominated by inter and post-WWII houses, the local roofer firms seem to be a regular sight, I guess they are replacing the original ones when not sticking dormers on. Better part of a century is not bad I guess, but you may feel unlucky to be faced with that job in your period of ownership.

I am hoping for 2 decades of minimal maintenance spend, aside expiring boilers and blowing window units. Time will tell if my faith is well placed or not..

Edited by The Knimbies who say No

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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

UK is wet and the air is usually damp, not great for wood.

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From my experience of renting a new house (less than 10 years old). they won't stay up long enough to age terribly.

Way too many plastic fittings, light switches, plumbing etc. Will become brittle over time and need replacing. Door and window handles hopelessly underspecced. It's all just very flimsy.

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Way too many plastic fittings, light switches, plumbing etc. Will become brittle over time and need replacing. Door and window handles hopelessly underspecced. It's all just very flimsy.

"Ours" flexes and leaks when the wind blows hard in the wrong direction. Great rental though, really well insulated, cheapest house we've ever had to heat.

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UK is wet and the air is usually damp, not great for wood.

Good point, can't be good for exposed wood (although probably helps it to grow in the first place). My garden shed is wood but I don't think that counts.

Wet compared to the desert.

Lots of wooden houses in Bergen, with three times London's rainfall.

There's more to wet than just the amount of rainfall. London is the unusually dry corner of the UK too, not very representative of the country as a whole. Edited by Riedquat

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Good point, can't be good for exposed wood (although probably helps it to grow in the first place). My garden shed is wood but I don't think that counts.

There's more to wet than just the amount of rainfall. London is the unusually dry corner of the UK too, not very representative of the country as a whole.

Just look at what is happening to all that decking that was laid in the noughties. In the rare example where all the right treatment has been maintained, they are fine although a load of hard work. Where they have been not looked after, they are now horrible rotten messes...

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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!

I can relate to this, but I think the problems you describe are small ones. Floorboards creak because they are put in quickly with a nailgun and the nails become loose, lift the carpets and screw them in properly and you've solved the problem. Window handles and sockets becoming loose are even easier to fix if you own a screwdriver. None of those things are fundamental problems with the design or build, so not really a reason to prefer an older house.

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I quite like some 1970s detached properties. The sort where you enter on the first floor and the garage and some bedrooms are on the ground floor. Split level I believe.

Something like in the following picture.

SetWidth696-Fig-2.26.jpg

Aesthetically they've aged well and will continue to do so in my opinion.

Edited by spacedin

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Well it would be very boring if everyone liked the same thing. Personally my favourite period is anything 17th to 18th century. One day I hope to live in a Queen Anne style home...

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