Draughty rented Grade 2 listed cottage

(40 Posts)
MrsBigBadBeck Mon 25-Mar-13 11:31:31

Hi!

So hubby and I have just moved into a beautiful grade 2 listed Georgian cottage. When we viewed the house everything seemed lovely. It was cold when we looked around but understood that because of the lack of heating that had been put on as it was vacant it would be a bit chilly.

Anyway, we're into our third week of our 6 month contract and we've had enough of the draughty front door and sash windows. Our landlords don't seem all the fussed about helping us out, but we have yet to bring this up with them. Hubby has slightly mentioned the draughty door but the landlady subtly said she couldn't change it due to it being listed. Where do we stand?!?! Surely this can't be right. I noticed when I stood outside the door when it is dark and the lights are on indoors, we can see a huge gap at the top of the door!!! This can't be right?!

I've googled until my eyes could fall out, and briefly read something about getting the environmental agency out to assess the house but its not just downstairs its our bedrooms too. Mine and hubby's room is terribly cold, and the guest room in the attic has a black grid like feature no bigger than a 10cm square which my dad has understood to be used in the old times to reduce condensation. Poor dad when he came to stay had to sleep fully clothed as that also made it very draughtysad

Help!!!! Any advice would be appreciatedsad

MinimalistMommi Mon 25-Mar-13 12:07:14

How big was gap at top of door? shock
We have draughty sash windows but are soon getting secondary glazing (counting down the four week wait) but obviously that doesn't help you. In the evening, closing thick, heavy curtains would help, but that's no help during the day when you want day light in your house. You can get magnetic plastic secondary glazing very inexpensively but I'm not sure how easy that would be too fix to windows without causing damage.

MinimalistMommi Mon 25-Mar-13 12:13:52

You can get thermal door curtains on amazon for about £18 ask landlord if you are allowed to fit it above door.
www.amazon.co.uk/Canterbury-Chocolate-Thermal-Includes-Matching/dp/B0030M0SCU/ref=tag_stp_s2_edpp_url

The nice cream one has sold out though sad

MinimalistMommi Mon 25-Mar-13 12:16:07

Here's the plastic secondary glazing stuff: www.magneglaze.co.uk/index.php
I guess it would be only worth it if you're renting it long term, or you never know, the landlord might pay hmm

OneHundredSecondsofSolitude Mon 25-Mar-13 12:19:03

english heritage guidance heer on draft proofing historic buildings

I'd advise lots of thick curtains and rugs as an interim measure if your landlord is unwilling to spend ££

HindsightisaMarvellousThing Mon 25-Mar-13 12:30:16

I live in a similar cottage, though we own it.

I'd advise heavy curtains, heating on high and to wait for the weather to heat up a bit. If you have a 6 month contract then the majority of this time will be with warmer weather.

We notice that our cottage is much draughtier when the wind comes from a certain direction, and it is fine at other times.

Backinthebox Mon 25-Mar-13 12:31:08

But the draught's all part of the charm!

We use a lot of that plastic film that you stick onto the window and then shrink with a hairdryer. Cost a couple or quid from B&Q. Also curtains, draught excluders, big BIG duvets with blankets on top, and I imagine you probably have working fireplaces. Living in an old listed cottage does require a bit of a different way of looking at things!

To be fair to your landlady, you can repair like for like, but can't change things materially without listed building consent. To give you an idea, we were given permission to remove the tiles from our roof to investigate a timber problem. It took us 10 months and various reports to get permission to do this. While the tiles were off we discovered a structural problem, and it took a further 3 months to get permission to carry out structural work - all the time the rain was pouring in our untiled roof! (There was tarpaulin over it, but howling gales took this off several times in unexpected summer storms.) The conservation officer told us not to even consider asking to replace the exterior doors or windows - they should be 'sympathetically repaired' if needed.

MrsBigBadBeck Mon 25-Mar-13 12:34:12

Thanks everyone. I have looked at the English heritage website but I'm a bit funny about putting foam draught proofing around the windows incase it's a bugger to get off and we lose our deposithmm

I'd say its a few mm thick the gap but its enough to let a lot of draught through. A 13.5 tog duvet isn't keeping us warm enough at night even with the bedroom door shut. Would it be worth is getting environmental health in to asses the house?

Curtains are heavy lined luckily but the draught gets round the sides. They're staying shut all day everydaysad

Funnily enough she has just text me so I've replied with my concerns. Watch this space!

Big thick curtains and a letterbox cover thing is the best way to go about things if the house is rented and you don't want to spend much.

Be careful hanging heavy curtains though as if walls lathe and plaster will have to find joists to ensure don't pull walls down!

Bramshott Mon 25-Mar-13 12:37:15

You need:
Draft proofing tape round all doors and windows
Thick curtain over the front door
Plastic film secondary glazing (the stuff you use a hairdryer on to get it taut)
Foil behind all radiators
Chimney balloons
I'd also cover over the air vent in the guest room with cardboard when you have anyone to stay.

Also close all doors to keep the heat inside rooms, and if your stairs come down into the living room fit a curtain across the bottom.

If you really do have a gap that you can see light through at the top of the door then that needs fixing asap with a strip of wood along the top of the interior frame and sealing between the strip and the frame (might be better to ask your landlord to do that). They'll be right that the door probably can't be changed, but there's a lot you can do.

MrsBigBadBeck Mon 25-Mar-13 12:41:48

I daren't do anything without getting permission from them. I can understand all the things we can do that's not a problem but a door that doesn't fit the frame properly is a bit of a concern. We can shut it, but it is as though it needs another push to have it securely shut.

Luckily landlady has fitted curtains but she's very funny about anything being drilled into any walls which is understandable.

We do have a fireplace but it irritates my sinuses but hubby is desperate to use it hmm

Backinthebox, how does a 'sympathetic repair' work?

Oh, that's depressing. I would think if the LL don't want to change it, they won't - it's incredibly annoying, but if I'm understanding rightly, these will have been things you saw at the viewing, so I think they will try to tell you to lump it.

Is it one of a group of similar cottages? I'm guessing not if it's listed, but if it is, you might look at see what neighbours have done, and make your case to the LL based on that?

I would be really worried by the door, though, it sounds like a security risk as well as draughty.

Is the fireplace blocked up, if you're not using it? You need it stuffed with newspaper - otherwise it'll be a big problem.

Otherwise I'd agree, go for thick curtains, door snakes, etc.

It sounds like a lovely place apart from that so I hope it can be made a bit more comfortable.

MrsBigBadBeck Mon 25-Mar-13 12:55:41

See the thing is the whole draughtyness wasn't noticed when we viewed as the heating hadn't been put on in weeks so it was un-noticable as it was really cold anyway.

The two either side of us are listed too so I guess we could speak to them about how they deal with the cold in their house. Next thing to buy will be a huge thick rug. Laminate and tiles in the lounge and kitchenhmm

Yeah funnily enough my mum said the door could be a security risk too sad

Out newspaper in the fireplace? How come?

Yeah, it's difficult viewing places when it's cold. sad

The newspaper - you can get balloons to go there too, I'm just a cheapskate. Loads of scrunched up newspaper up the chimney will block the draught, is all I mean. It's also easy to get out if your husband does end up deciding to give the fire a go.

I would go with the security risk angle - they might be more concerned about that than your comfort!

MrsBigBadBeck Mon 25-Mar-13 13:04:31

Yeah true, may try that too. It has got a latch and chain on though which I think they will suggest we use which we do but the door seems loosesad

Ahhhh okgrin I'm with you now. It's funny though as the chimney seems ok! May block it up though anyway.

Thanks for all the advice. Anything else is highly appreciated especially if you know the law or what my rights aresmile

HindsightisaMarvellousThing Mon 25-Mar-13 13:32:49

Just read that you aren't using your fireplace (s) to have a fire in. If you did, then you'd be much warmer especially in the evenings, and the chimney would heat up the rooms above the fireplace.

I've always lived in old houses, and really the best thing to do is to heat a couple of rooms (fire in living room, heating on high in bathroom and bedroom) and expect the halls and stairs to be cold and draughty. I imagine it must be grim without a proper fire in the evenings in this weather.

MrsBigBadBeck Mon 25-Mar-13 13:46:31

I have awful sinuses though, hence me not wanting hubby to light the fire. We had a wood burner in the previous house we rented and that made my eyes and nose stream to high heavenssad

She can't, though, she has sinus trouble with it?

Are you any better with clean coal than wood, do you know?

MrsBigBadBeck Mon 25-Mar-13 13:55:20

It's the dust that it createshmm and settles over the house. Hubby threatened to use it as we would much rather be warm than me suffer but were thinking of leaving after the six months sad

Lonecatwithkitten Mon 25-Mar-13 14:42:29

Usually the eyes and sinus thing happens when a fire is not drawing properly and open fireplace that has recently been swept in a well ventilated house should not cause this.
I suspect that your door shrinks and swells with the weather certainly the doors in the grade 2 listed building I have do. You can use sash wedges that cause a better seal on the sashes but are not permanent.
This is one of the issues of an old listed building and you will find that the council's listed buildings officer has much greater powers than environmental health. So they can make suggests and the listed buildings officer with veto them. It can be worth having a meeting with the listed buildings officer to see if they have any suggestions.

MrsBigBadBeck Mon 25-Mar-13 15:35:53

An update on the situation and landlady has accepted us to use foam draught excluder, nothing about the windows or anything else so I think we'll be moving after the six monthssadconfusedhmm

cantdoalgebra Mon 25-Mar-13 20:12:58

Sorry you are so cold, but to a certain extent this is what you can expect in some older properties. In very few of the older houses I have lived in have I been able to just get away with a 13.5 tog duvet at night in cold weather. Very often I have had to use two duvets, and gone to bed in a jumper. It is part of the charm(!) of some houses. You can either live with it or not depending on your viewpoint, especially if it is a rented house and you are limited in what you can do.

GrendelsMum Mon 25-Mar-13 20:53:17

To keep you going for the next six months - are you using hot water bottles or an electric blanket? That should make a big difference to being able to sleep, at least. We find 4 hot water bottles put in 30 mins in advance make a lot of difference, plus you want wooly PJs and bedsocks! The general rule is to go old fashioned - wear slippers, wear thermal vests, and sit with a blanket around your shoulders.

Do you keep all the interior doors closed at all times? Again, this will make a difference.

And definitely do put foam draught excluders around the edge of the front door.

MrsBigBadBeck Mon 25-Mar-13 21:22:36

Thanks ladies! Hubby has whacked a foam excluder round the door and I've had a hot bath and have kept wrapped up and have now tucked myself up in bedsmile

Yep we keep all the doors shut on each room and the rooms we don't use try to limit going in there. We should be ok hopefully over the summersmile

EverybodysSootyEyed Mon 25-Mar-13 21:33:26

We can't get permission to do much to make the place more energy efficient which is really frustrating!

One thing we did as a temporary measure which Has worked very well to keep the draught out from the windows is

Use the clear silicone stuff that you use for bathrooms (comes in a tube with applicator). Works really well to fill gaps up to half a cm. we have sealed all our top sashes (and some of the lower ones). Advantage is that it is really easy to remove.

Sausagedog27 Tue 26-Mar-13 07:01:08

Don't seal your sash windows with silicone- you could get into trouble amd also be a fire risk as you are unable to open your windows.

A fire would really help warm select rooms (I'd take something for my sinus' if it were me and have a log fire smile)
Shame about the landlady attitude - I don't have details but read an article only last week in the Evening Standard or Metro newspaper that landlords are obliged to insulate a house efficiently and not allowed to increase bills for a year after or something? try Googling it.. i did find this in a quick search
http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/Take-action/Improve-your-home/Persuading-your-landlord-to-install-energy-saving-measures

Also buy nice stuff that you can take with you when you leave - eg we have just bought great bedroom curtains from Jim Lawrence - they are handmade and sooo thick, they interline them as well as line them and make such a difference - look cosy too!
people have said about door curtains - you need a Portiere rod for that, and good old-fashioned Sausage dogs! again http://www.jim-lawrence.co.uk/ they do fire stuff to - all very warm & cosy stuff in general

you need the weather to sort itself out don't you x

A fire would really help warm select rooms (I'd take something for my sinus' if it were me and have a log fire smile)
Shame about the landlady attitude - I don't have details but read an article only last week in the Evening Standard or Metro newspaper that landlords are obliged to insulate a house efficiently and not allowed to increase bills for a year after or something? try Googling it.. i did find this in a quick search
http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/Take-action/Improve-your-home/Persuading-your-landlord-to-install-energy-saving-measures

Also buy nice stuff that you can take with you when you leave - eg we have just bought great bedroom curtains from Jim Lawrence - they are handmade and sooo thick, they interline them as well as line them and make such a difference - look cosy too!
people have said about door curtains - you need a Portiere rod for that, and good old-fashioned Sausage dogs! by that I mean draught excluders! again http://www.jim-lawrence.co.uk/ they do fire stuff to - all very warm & cosy stuff in general

you need the weather to sort itself out don't you x

MinimalistMommi Tue 26-Mar-13 16:19:00

Sit in the evening with a pile of blankets and a hot water bottle and thick socks on, it will make a real difference if you're warm when you get into bed. If I'm relaxing i the evenings on the sofa I always have a hot water bottle and quilts/blankets so I'm warm and cosy. I also take a hot water bottle and extra blankets to bed grin
I live in a victorian terraced cottage with draughty sash windows which was built around 1870 so I know what's it like.

EverybodysSootyEyed Tue 26-Mar-13 18:18:29

Maybe I dot mean silicone - just bathroom sealant. The windows open easily when you don't want it there anymore and it doesn't stick to he paint an peels of easily.

We did that the first winter and then had them properly draught proofed which has made a real difference.

MoreBeta Tue 26-Mar-13 18:28:11

In our draughty cold Grade II listed house we have a similar landlord. Good suggestions above and one additional one I would add.

Our bedroom is cold and we found the solution was a really good quality heated underblanket.

Lovely to slip into a warm bed and if you get a good one you can leave them on the lowest setting all night. Really good investment in the current cold weather.

MinimalistMommi Tue 26-Mar-13 18:37:34

MoreBeta can you recommend one? Stupid question, but are they safe? I have no experience of them and I feel cold at night and lots of blankets feels heavy on me LOL but I have no choice

MrsBigBadBeck Tue 26-Mar-13 18:46:49

Thanks ladies! I have seen the electric bottom sheets. They look amazing! Hubby isn't so keen purely because he is a tight arse and is worried about the electric bill lol but it's just tempting to buy one, turn it on and he'll get a treat when he gets into bed of no cold bottom sheet!

Yeah I've definitely learnt I need to have a hot bath/shower then clothe myself up and relax before bed and pop a hot water bottle in the bed. I hate how much our gas bills area mounting up at the moment hmm

Deux Tue 26-Mar-13 19:33:36

I lived in cold and draughty flats with sash windows.

I wonder if this might work? It is what we did as students and was easy to remove and didn't make a mess of the windows.

Take a sheet of newspaper and fold up about an inch or so and keep on folding so you have a thick strip of folded newspaper.

Dampen this by dipping it in water quickly and squeezing out the excess water. Make sure it's not dripping wet and is only damp. Pat/squeeze in a towel if necessary.

Put these dampened strips around gaps in your sashes and make sure you fill the gaps tight with the dampened newspaper. As the paper dries out the paper will swell and expand to fill the gaps. You may need to use several sheets folded up depending on the size of the gap.

When the weather is warmer, you can just lift out the dried newspaper.

It worked a treat for us and never caused any damage.

georgedawes Tue 26-Mar-13 20:09:10

electric blanket is brilliant and doesn't cost a lot to run at all. Our bedroom is freezing but you don't notice it at all with it on. Best buy ever for a cold house!

MrsBigBadBeck Tue 26-Mar-13 20:30:34

Are the blankets safe l sleep with on too? Ahhh sounds lush I must saysmile

georgedawes Tue 26-Mar-13 21:18:06

Yes and machine washable too.

Bramshott Wed 27-Mar-13 11:04:20

Not sure if anyone's mentioned this, but the easiest way to fit a curtain over the front door is to use a door pole or portiere rod, which means you fix the curtain to the door and not the wall.

MrsBigBadBeck Wed 27-Mar-13 18:39:54

Ah thanks bramshott shall take a looksmile

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