New Houses

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Hi,
I was chatting about the old house versus new house pros and cons yesterday. A friend commented that new houses, being of timber construction, are at a bigger risk to things like dry rot in the frame and, because of this, their longevity is in question.
Any comments on this and what is the perceived lifetime of a modern home built by the likes of Wimpey, Barratt and Co.? Is the housing stock in the UK simply too old and should be replaced on a more regular basis - of course, that would mean new homes costing alot less?
John.
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Timber frame is not, in itself, a problem. You will find that most houses more than 300 years old in this country are timber framed. Provided ventilation and maintenance is good, timber framed houses can last a very long time.
Christian.
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Christian McArdle wrote:

Indeed. The one over the road is mentioned in the Domesday book. Shame some plumber left a stripper plugged in and burnt half of it away a few years back. They still have not sorted out insurance claims on that one...
Rot and fire are the two enemies. Wheeras subsidence gets the block and brick ones.
Privded timber is kept dry, old oak, or treated softwood should be good for at least a hundred years. Morte like 300 typically. The BIG danger is leaking rooves gutters and bargeboards etc.

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Thanks, but with regard to newly built houses... are they build to standards as good as, say, 30, 50, or 70 years ago? Or are they built better? I mean, some new houses look old after only 5 - 10 years and I can't help wondering what they will look like in 20, 30, etc, years?
John.

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Do you think a similar guarantee is available for older properties? From what I can tell, joist sizes required now seem frequently to be larger than that used 100 years ago.
Christian.
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Really ? You ain't seen the joists in this 100 year old tenement we now live in. They're almost like someone has just slightly squared off the trunk of the trees and laid floor boards over them. Comparing these to the ones used now and you'd definitely notice the difference in build quality.
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I'm not familiar with tenement houses. However, round here, Victorian and Edwardian terraces are common. The joists certainly don't look substantially thicker than that used in modern construction.
Christian.
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Christian McArdle wrote:

told it a fair better than down south historically at least.
I would say there is a huge range of build qualities over in the C19 and early C20 houses with the better housing being a good as any within the limitations of the technology (no cavity walls etc.). but the rough end is abysmal, e g door frames that consist only of the lining wood.
The best built housing AFAIK and IMHO is the inter world war stuff that was built for owner-occupiers. The lower end of the market was less worse relatively at that time.
Since then it seems that house are being built less well to cleverer designs so that they are OKish I would not expect the joists to fail on a modern home even if built by B*rr*tt etc. However you have to go a long way up the market spectrum to find houses with wooden flooring rather than chip-board.
All modern pitched lofts are built with a high strength 'forest of matchwood' which means the space is less useable and less easily converted.
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Having installed heating in many types of houses, new homes I find have better timbers than Victorian houses. Many Victorian houses were Jerry built, as the recent Grand Designs TV programme highlighted.
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IMM wrote:

Agreed. Someone else mentioned that the strongest houss are often 'between the wars' houses. Its not an inviolable rule, but I would certainly say that the stuff built from 1930-1960 seems to me to be better in general than before, or after, those dates.
The rise in owner occuppied houses may have something to do with it. If you are bulding to rent, you want to get decent return and no miantenance. If building to sell you don't care. The mortgage companies are only interested in durability for the forst few years of teh mortgage, after which the value can reasonably be expected to exceed the remainder of the principal.
The average first time buyer won't be staying anyway more than a few years.
So its chuck up the minimum standard rabbit hutch, flog it and move on...
However, even a rabbit hutch if well maintained lasts longer than teh average rabbit...

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"Jerry" must have been doing something right though, since they are still standing a century later :)
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wrote:

The first model bylaws came in with the Public Health 1875 IIRC so there's possibly something of a distinction between properties built before and after that date. On earlier Victorian properties stucco can hide an awful lot.
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Christian McArdle wrote:

Yes, but smaller than used 50-70 years ago.
There is a tyendency to e.g. use smaller joists with herringbone bracing to get a stiffer floor, but it won't carry as much load.
And use of multiply braced prefab roof trusses that again are stiff, but don't have the ultimate strength.
Foundations are MUCH better - they have to be. So is wiring, insulation, plumbing and general use of the space and fitout quality. Its teh structure where the building regs are bent till they creak that sometimes gets a bit naff. I.e. use of chipboard floors that creak if no glue is used, and stud walls instead of block. A block house is a quieter house IME.
Also use of plasticky windows and doors is a bit naff in anything other than ultra modern styled places. However if the owner doesn't do window frame painting, they outlast softwood.
Modern houses are nice 30-100 year and then tear em down places. Low maintenance then replace.
Since the STRUCTURE house cost these days probably represents on many sites less than 50% of the 'value' I would expect many of them to be torn down and replaced anyway in due course.
A friend of mine who was a bit of an industrial and heritage archaologist, reckons that a house gets a major refurb (up to 60% of rebuild cost roughly every 60 years - usually after someone has died in it. Average life is I think around 150-200 years. Most stuff older than that gets torn down, or catches fire. That fits in well with the pre-victorian properties being in the minority here.
A LOT of e.g. victorian terraces also - with no loos, baths or decent insulation, arguably could be demolished and rebuilt at less cost than a total refirnb anyway, and gain decent foundations as a result. Lost were in the 'slum clearances' of the 50's and 60's.
I am not sure about planning issues, but you can rebuild a house for betrween 60 and 120 quid a square foot, depending on final quality. Apply that to many houses for sale in the south east at least, and it really becomes a matter of 'buying a plot, with a crap house attached'

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I would not say so. partition walls can be quite quiet. It depends on the wall construction.

The average is 1/3 the value of the structure, the rest is the land value. RThat does not mean the house is cheap.

The Japanese now have larger homes on average than in the UK. They had a continual re-build policy that ensured a pretty newish housing stock. These new homes also emit less CO2.
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Victorian/Edwardian stud walls are fine, but that's because they normally have over an inch of plaster on either side. A stud wall with plasterboard (skimmed or not) is very different.

Houses have been built for many years with a life expectancy of 200 years. There has been much speculation that a number of the building techniques employed in houses since the late '60's will have significantly shorter life expectancy, and should consequently be selling at lower prices more equivalent to those with a lease < 100 years, but this isn't something people consider when buying a house.
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These posts seem to contain a lot of errors from the first down. Any house is a constantly ongoing refurbishment. Look how long a roof would last if it was diligently inspected and repaired. I don't think there have been many houses built without a wooden roof have there?
As for the occupancy exceeding 20 people in a Barratt Home.... Can you get 20 people in a Barratt Home?
I don't think there is a country with more rigorous building codes than Britain. The quality, as ever, depends on the architect, the buider and the customer. If the customer cuts corners on quality control, saving the cost of a good survey for instance, or overlooking faults, just to get into the property.....
Unscrupulous builders may well keep the buyer hanging on knowing their bridging loan and/or temporary residential circumstances will mellow them into accepting what ever the builder is doing.
Then they move in and expect the cowboy to put it all right in 6 months. He kept them waiting a lot longer than that before they got the key.
In feudal times if you got the roof on and the doors closed with smoke coming out of the chimney by nigh time, you could live anywhere in the land. It was a mark of either the total absence of building codes or the organisation of a village with all the necessary skills and planning clearance for them to want you living there.
Basically if the house is still there in 70 years despite the absences of diy forums, B&Q warehouses and TV make-overs; somebody must have done something right.
Today building relies on the fact that you have to give total strangers vast amounts of money for quite some considerable time (with very little say about what he does with it) and almost no chance of getting it back and walking away.
Which leaves me wondering what builder in what part of the country is offering 30 year guarrantees.
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John Smith wrote:

I'd say the insulation is better, but teh stenght is worse, and the sound insulation - apart from double glazed windows - far worse.
Longevity? Not much different really. Old hopuses tend to be solid, but cold.
New houses sound like living in a wooden drum, but are warm :)
YMMV.

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Round my way, and I suppose this is increasingly common, I look at houses and think "That has a nice bit of land but the house is crap - why can't I knock it down and build a new one but a quality new one!" How difficult is it to get permission to do this? Doesn't the new house have to reflect the old house to such an extent that it defeats the purpose?
John.

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John Smith wrote:

Depends entirely on the local planners, and whether or not its a 'conservation area'
Andf as far as I can tell from the bloke up teh road who turned a 400k listed cottage into at 2.5M something resembling a cross between tescos car park and a hitech california log cabin, how much you bribe the borough council.

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