Please tell me why I should buy a Victorian house!

(57 Posts)
CuddyMum Thu 04-Apr-13 21:13:08

Well we've viewed a property today and are quite warming to the idea. It has refurbished sash windows, stripped floorboards, tiled hall, Arga kitchen, picture rails, open fires etc. but the thing is we're so used to living in a modern house on an estate in "magnolia ville" with laminate floors and gloss kitchen, double glazing etc. and I'm still getting my head around it all.

I'm looking for your views good and bad on living in and maintaining a Victorian house. smile

Because they're just lovely.

Er, that's it...

Draughty windows, aging stonework and pointing, heat all goes up to the high ceiling and stays there... but I wouldn't swap for a bland modern one. smile At least, not till I'm old and fed up of the maintenance!

beancounting Thu 04-Apr-13 21:29:36

Sounds lovely to me! I love Victorian houses for their character and charm, they feel individual and can take any style of decor, whether traditional or contemporary. They tend to feel more spacious than modern houses because they usually have high ceilings and well proportioned rooms, and often have odd bits of space that would be considered 'wasted' by house builders today. On the downside there can be more maintenance depending on the condition, and they can be more expensive/inefficient to heat. And you can research their history and find out about who used to live there etc which gives you a sense of continuity and can be really interesting - we found a stash of pawn broker tickets under the floorboards which brought the family who lived here in the 1880s to life! I'm going to really miss our house (have just sold it) especially as in the areas we're looking we can only afford identikit modern properties...

CuddyMum Thu 04-Apr-13 21:29:56

I expected the windows to be really draughty and it was a freezing, windy day today and we couldn't feel a hint of a draught nor hear any road noise (it's a high street but not a major road though). I guess I'm talking myself in to it! Another plus point was that the kitchen was toasty courtesy of the Aga.

PigletJohn Thu 04-Apr-13 22:29:34

'mmmmm, stripped floorboards, tiled hall, open fireplaces, high ceilings.

It's lucky you don't feel the cold.

Did you hear the gas and electric meters whirring round?

herhonesty Fri 05-Apr-13 06:15:16

Agas are expensive to run and not everyone's cup of tea to cook on. Did it have a separate cooker/hob?

Big light rooms courtesy of the high ceilings and giant windows. I love our windows but they were a pain to get curtains for! Other negatives - even my husband needs a ladder to change a lightbulb/dust the coving!

MinimalistMommi Fri 05-Apr-13 08:16:20

Just moved into our small (but has lovely high ceilings) Victorian terrace eight weeks and five days ago! We have the original sash windows (in good condition but not refurbished though, so it's great that job has been done) Our windows are terribly draughty though, but we're having secondary glazing in very soon for noise reduction (next to street with cars passing, I moved from very quiet street!) which will sort out the draughts. The windows are huge and let in so much light. They add so much character and look so pretty!

We are planning on ripping up horrid carpet and having all floors professionally stripped etc simply because I have always dreamed of floorboard (even though I know they are colder than carpet)

We have the original fireplace left in the dining room and the one in the front room got taken out and chimney breast boarded up sad We will be sorting that out soon, having fireplace put back in and having a woodburner installed. The chimney breasts in the bedrooms also got ripped out sad do you still have all your fireplaces upstairs intact?

We're having entire house re-plastered, our staircase moved to improve upstairs layout. It's a labour of love at the moment but I really, really like it. It has lovely character, is in a great area on a lovely street right next to huge period properties which cost upward of £500,000. It's very cosy feeling (but cold with the sashes the way they are right now) can't wait to get our woodburner in!

Is the house you're looking at semi-detached? In a terrace? Have you looked at how thick walls are? Re: Noise from neighbours? If next door has friends around at the weekend, we can hear them laughing sometimes!

FergusSingsTheBlues Fri 05-Apr-13 08:20:07

I live in a victorian tenement flat.

Pros: fantastic dimensions - much bigger rooms thn you would get in any modern house
high ceilings - feeling of space even though its just a flat
thick walls

shoogly floorboards
we put in secondary glazing which absolutely sealed the house from draughts and noise

we are selling up as we need a house now with two kids, but are looking mainly at victorian houses as they are beautiful places to live. Enjoy!

Link?? grin We lived for 9 years in a victorian terrace. The walls were thick, never heard anything. When the surveyor came round for our buyer he told me that he found victorian houses to be universally well built. Georgian houses oth were built on a wing and a prayer grin

FergusSingsTheBlues Fri 05-Apr-13 08:22:22

Oh yes, getting curtains for a three meter drop is a nighmare - we spend 2k on ours for a big bay window and master bedroom - but money well worth spending IMO.

Also, you can dry your clothes with a discreet pulley which does up to the ceiling - you just dont have to worry so much about tumble driers, condensation etc.

And they are very easy houses to air thanks to the enormous windows.

MinimalistMommi Fri 05-Apr-13 08:31:24

Fergus great to hear you've had positive experience with secondary glazing grin we're having acoustic Stadip silence glass put in ours and we are hoping to will make a difference to both sound and draughts!

OP, we love living in our Victorian terraced cottage and although they do need upkeep (and we have a lot to do on ours!) they have so much charm which obviously you don't have in a newer house.

Totally agree about trying to find out about some history, this little row of cottages were built around the 1870's.

Flossiechops Fri 05-Apr-13 09:06:42

We have been living in period properties for the past 11 years. Our current house which is Edwardian 3 storey 4 bed we bought 5 years ago. we are selling up next year (we have a tie in on the mortgage) I have completly fallen out of love with period houses to be honest. We are never warm, the heating bills are extortionate, it's an endless money pit. We are in a catch 22 where we need to invest probably 10-20k but can't afford it. The rooms are traditional layout ie long hall with 2 reception rooms off and kitchen at the end and it just doesn't work for us anymore, I want an open plan living, kitchen diner which overlooks the garden.

They are gorgeous to look at and the period features are beautiful, the spacious rooms are fantastic too. If I were to buy another I would make sure it was insulated within a inch of its life and that I could afford the upkeep. Our gas/electricity bills have been around £250-£375 a month over the winter period and having pushed ourselves to the financial max to buy the place the shine has gone. I long for warmth and comfort! The final push has been a week in Cornwall in a newly converted mews which was so warm we didn't even put the heating on in the morning. I guess I am saying think long and hard about whether you love it enough to give up the good points of a newer house.

Trills Fri 05-Apr-13 09:11:11

Are you sure that you want an Aga? They can be temperamental beasts if you're not used to them.

If the kitchen is not fitted, will all of the cupboards and things disappear when the current occupants move out?

Is there central heating? What did the boiler look like? Is getting hot water at the time that you want it going to be a pain? Did you turn on a tap and check the water pressure?

I once lived in a Victorian terrace that did not have its own water supply. Instead of taking a pipe off the mains for every house, one pipe had come off the mains for about 5 houses. You know how when you're in the shower and someone turns the tap on downstairs the shower goes funny? This happened if someone turned the tap on in number 59.

AliceWChild Fri 05-Apr-13 10:10:29

Just leaving mine. Never again. Cold, dusty thing. Could hear conversations next door. Ours was built by Victorian cowboys, front wall isn't tied into the rest of the house. Liked it for a while though, it's now I'm moving that I've really disconnected with it. Love big rooms and windows which is why I'm moving to a 60s house.

Flossiechops Fri 05-Apr-13 10:21:26

Just had my gas/electricity bill = £330 for March!

woozlebear Fri 05-Apr-13 10:22:58

I've never lived in anything other than Victorian and Edwardian houses (bar one 13 month spell in a new flat) and it would take a miracle to get me to buy anything newer. I just love the proportions and the character. Newer houses (mostly) don't seem to have any soul.

I think they're easier to furnish, too. You can go modern and have a lovely contrast between the period features and modern furniture, or you can put antiques around, or a mix of both.

You don't have to keep the floorboards bare if they're too cold, and (for a price) you can get timber double-glazed sashes put in. Shutters would also help / and or interlined curtains. Also radiator covers that push heat out rather than up.

soverylucky Fri 05-Apr-13 10:30:15

Our house is Victorian - it is a nightmare to heat - it really is. It takes a good 48 hours to heat up if the heating is off. Seems to be really hard to keep clean too as there are so many little cracks here and there and a lack of smooth surfaces iyswim??
The rooms are large and the attention to little details here and there are lovely - cornice, ceiling rose etc. The walls are quite thick too so we rarely hear the neighbours.

HousewifeFromHeaven Fri 05-Apr-13 10:30:21

I am leaving my Edwardian 1905 house.

It's beautiful and full of character, but oh so needy. And costly to maintain.

A bit like me grin

littlecrystal Fri 05-Apr-13 10:30:40

CuddyMum I think you already know my opinion from another thread, but you either love Victorian or you don’t. Mine looked cute and everyone loved it, with the good layout too. But it is so much money to upkeep it, especially if you want to keep the period features. I kept the original fireplace and old floorboards as I understood it adds the value but it wasn’t me and I’d rather didn’t have it. The best thing about Victorian is that it is impressive.

I have just sold and hoping to move to a 60s house (waves to AliceWChild).

CuddyMum Fri 05-Apr-13 10:51:32

Thanks everyone. We are going for a review this afternoon with a big list of questions. The house is a 3 storey semi detatched, 5 beds, 2 baths, 3 receptions, large (fitted bespoke) kitchen, utility, garage and workshop. Not huge garden but lawned, walled and completely private. There are not fireplaces on the middle floor but there are on the top floor (and bottom of course). I would literally have to buy all their curtains and blinds and quite probably their huge kitchen table and dining room furniture! The Aga we'd have to live with for a while but there is a central heating system and nice rads.

MinimalistMommi Fri 05-Apr-13 12:33:25

Let us know how you get on!

Ask how much they spend on oil for the aga.

CuddyMum Fri 05-Apr-13 13:03:55

It's a gas Aga smile

UptheChimney Fri 05-Apr-13 16:27:52

Well I'd never get my head around living in a modern house on an estate.

Victorian houses have high ceilings, usually clear & light spaces if they haven't been messed around with. And they've been standing for over 100 years, so you know they're basically sound.

Though if you're not used to an Aga, or living in an old house, or have mostly modern bought furniture, it may not be for you ...

PigletJohn Fri 05-Apr-13 17:26:11

if you are going for stripped floorboards, I really, definitely, absolutely recommend insulating between the joists. Doing it before you move in is ideal. You can unblock 100 years of cobwebs and dust from the airbricks at the same time, and will have the opportunity for any underfloor plumbing or electrics, as well as clearing out the dead rats and finding bags of sovereigns.

MinimalistMommi Fri 05-Apr-13 17:31:17

Dead rats? Yuk sad We will be doing our floor soon and that thought makes me cringe.

MinimalistMommi Fri 05-Apr-13 17:32:27

PigletJohn is insulating between the joists very expensive? I'm no good at DIY (have never even put a picture up) so we have to have people in to do everything we need!

Blu Fri 05-Apr-13 17:33:39

PigletJohn - how is this insulating between the joists best achived? Does it involve spending all day crawling around under the floorboards?

PigletJohn Fri 05-Apr-13 17:58:32

if you have an adequate crawl-space, you can clamber underneath. It will be dirty. There will usually be honeycomb sleeper walls at intervals along the room that you will need to break through.

It is much more pleasant if the floorboards are coming up for some reason (this also makes it easier to identify and correct any woodworm or other problems and to insulate all pipes). It can be done by taking up every fifth board or so and poking your arms down.

If some idiot one has put down chipboard flooring, it belongs on the skip, so that's a good reason to pull it up.

In my first house, I fitted an electrical socket in the crawl space for tools and a lamp while rewiring, but I now know that was not a good move as, in the event of a fault, it was not visible or easily accessible for inspection. Always use screws for any boards you might want to take up in future, not nails.

My old dad made trapdoors in the corners of two downstairs rooms of the family house, which were quite handy on rare occasions. (It was on a hill so quite roomy). If you are going to strip the floorboards you are sure to have some faulty ones that need to come up and be replaced. I have a floor safe in my current house.

Blu Fri 05-Apr-13 18:27:02

I once crawled under the floorboards to retrive a rotting rat.
I'm never going under floorboards again.

PigletJohn - are you spoken for?

PigletJohn Fri 05-Apr-13 18:40:21

not saying

MinimalistMommi Fri 05-Apr-13 18:43:34

OMG Blu I'm really worried about what's under my floorboard now, yuk!

Viviennemary Fri 05-Apr-13 18:47:20

Of course a period property is lovely. But I have known people that just haven't afforded to maintain them. And costly to heat. But if those things aren't a problem then absolutely go ahead.

CuddyMum Fri 05-Apr-13 18:48:02

Reviewed the house - I didn't want to leave! I asked all of my questions, tested all the sash windows etc. The house is so much warmer than ours and they had no heating on! I've had ours on all day and it's still not warm. It's been refurbished very well indeed.

yummymumtobe Fri 05-Apr-13 18:58:44

We lived In a Victorian flat and have just bought a Victorian house. Would not recommend. We had to get Victorian as in our part of London there isn't really anything other than old houses and we wanted to stay in the area. Planning to move soon though as realise it was a mistake:
Sash windows are cold
Wooden floors and cold and unhomey
Fireplaces let in draughts
High ceilings make it cold.
Want nice low ceilings, picture windows and carpets and PVC windows now!!
The idea is nicer than the reality I assure you!

yummymumtobe Fri 05-Apr-13 19:03:33

Just to added, if it has been lovingly upkept over the years and has double glazing, new plumbing, insulated wood floors etc then not such a problem. However, victorian places that have not been maintained can be expensive to upkeep and do works too. Eg a Victorian sash double glazed window costs about 4k for one bay window.

MinimalistMommi Fri 05-Apr-13 19:56:37

cuddyMum that's great, if you didn't want to leave that says everything!

Wandastartup Fri 05-Apr-13 20:45:53

Guessing which house from rightmove- looks stunning. I would buy it if in correct location etc...

Blu Fri 05-Apr-13 20:54:53

Well, that wasn't a 'no'....

Though my feminist principles could ever allow me to use a man as a DIY object.



I think we will get carpet instead of insulation. DP says it will improve the acoustics for the new TV sound system. And he won't go under the floorboards, dead rat or not. angry

I liked living in a Victorian house. High ceilings are good - bigger Christmas tree, you don't bash the lampshade when you take your sweaters off over your head....

CuddyMum Fri 05-Apr-13 21:16:42

Yes, bigger Christmas tree!

littlecrystal Fri 05-Apr-13 21:23:33

CuddyMum can you PM the house to me? It would be lovely to see what attracted you in there especially after your love for modern.

serin Fri 05-Apr-13 21:51:44

TBH I wouldn't, I grew up in one and they just depress me. Cold and dark and not renouned for their fantastic gardens but they differ I guess.

DoNotDisturb Tue 09-Apr-13 09:37:26

I live in a Victorian. We and the previous owner have maintained it well and it's not draughty and cold at all. My heating bills aren't crazy either. You need to draftproof the windows (either new windows, secondary glazing or insulating curtains). We knew our windows needed replacing when buying so kept the money aside for new wooden sashes (they make all the difference).

We've put stoves in the downstairs fires which blocks any drafts.

We find the big windows mean that the south side of the house is warmed by the sun. Even in winter.

We have underfloor heating in our kitchen/diner which is ace.

Basically if you can afford to keep money back to address insulating and draftproof ing the house you should be ok but if you push yourself to the limit to buy you may be unhappy as capital outlay on Victorian can be big.

Did you offer on the house in the end??

We recently sold our Victorian Semi and bought a 1950's house. The 1950s is draught free, with straight floors. But it is bland bland bland.

I miss our Victorian property every day. Yes it was draughty (gaps in the floorboards being the main problem once we had the sash windows restored).
But it has so much character, such a lovely homely athmosphere.

This 1950's box is more spacious, brighter and warmer. But I don't love it the way I loved our Victorian Bearded Lady (so called due to the ivy growing around the bay window giving the impression of one of those bearded ladies so popular in Victorian travelling fairs)

We moved as we needed a bit more space. But I still regret it.
YOu will fall in love with the Victorian house and never want to live in Magnolia Ville ever again.

<goes off to sob into hankerchief as she surveys 50's blandness around her>

OOoh, and we had a fantastic south facing 120ft garden in ours.

Super super house. But only two bedrooms and on a busy road so we ended up selling....

Posted too late, seen you have been back for a second viewing and falen in love with it. grin
Are you going to put in an offer, it sounds wonderful!!

FrauMoose Tue 09-Apr-13 09:51:02

Perhaps it depends if you're the sort of person who likes your central heating up high. The house is big so would be expensive to heat. On the other hand if there's loft insulation that would help.

We put in double glazing in our Edwardian houses. The old sash windows were in poor condition and there were some badly fitted modern ones.

To me modern houses - even if they are the 'executive' type - feel bland and boxy.

CuddyMum Tue 09-Apr-13 09:53:18

We're buying it smile grin

MinimalistMommi Tue 09-Apr-13 10:29:59

Cuddy I'm so happy for you! Congratulations! How long will buying it take?

CuddyMum Tue 09-Apr-13 10:34:48

It's tight (very) but we are aiming for 7 weeks! We have to be out of our house before 25th May and our buyer is in rented. The people we are buying from are also going into rented.

Toomuchtea Tue 09-Apr-13 11:00:43

So glad it's all worked out. If it's the house I think, it's gorgeous. The dogs will love the Aga.

MinimalistMommi Tue 09-Apr-13 11:31:42

At Christmas time we did it in five weeks! So it can be done cuddy
I would love to see pics, pm me link? But I understand if you want to keep it private.

CuddyMum Tue 09-Apr-13 13:23:54

Thanks Toomuchtea.

Not linking just at the moment Minimalist smile

peppertree Tue 09-Apr-13 16:46:04

That's great news cuddymum, join the victorian house appreciation society!!
I love my victorian home most of the time!
Love their prettiness, character, odd shapes, uneven plastering, sash windows,nooks and crannies
If ever i think i would like a change,i only have to walk into a new build and i change my mind!
I hope you will love your victorian as much as i do
Good luck!

LizzyMcGuire Tue 09-Apr-13 19:00:46

I want to buy this house.

Someone just needs to give me a hundred grand or so, ta very much.


CuddyMum Tue 09-Apr-13 19:43:24

That's very nice Lizzy. I can see why you like it.

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