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?
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
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
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.
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?
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.
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.
I'm not familiar enough with construction north of the border but I'm
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
Ed Sirett - Property maintainer and registered gas fitter.
The FAQ for uk.diy is at www.diyfaq.org.uk
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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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
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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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'
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.
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
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.
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 :)
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?
Depends entirely on the local planners, and whether or not its a
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
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