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victorian house - could it fall down?

(27 Posts)
oldboiler Fri 31-Jan-14 23:37:05

For no particularly reason sometimes I worry that my 3 story victorian townhouse will fall down. It was built 140 years ago so how do we know it will stay put? Please tell me aibu.

WorraLiberty Fri 31-Jan-14 23:38:52

If it's going to fall down, it'll show signs of it first...normally large cracks in the walls and ceilings.

But even then, you can get it underpinned so don't worry about it grin

There are buildings waaaay older than yours that are still standing.

Selks Fri 31-Jan-14 23:40:25

Think about it this way - if it was going to fall down it would have by now!

LittleBearPad Fri 31-Jan-14 23:41:31

There's quite a lot of cathedrals and castles that are doing ok.

To be honest it's probably better built than a Barrett box.

MoreBeta Fri 31-Jan-14 23:42:51

There is no reason for it to fall down unless it has structural damage that is really obvious.

I live in a house a bit older than yours and it is underpinned by steel joists, its roof appears to be held up by a bit of wood jammed under a purlin and the bricks have little in the way of cement between them in places. No cracks though.

It wont fall down.

Megrim Fri 31-Jan-14 23:43:32



Probably not. Them there Victorians were quite good at building things.

I am an engineer BTW.

Piscivorus Fri 31-Jan-14 23:43:38

I was a bit worried about our Edwardian one when we first moved in but have now come to the conclusion that it was built to last and will probably still be here when many new houses have gone

70isaLimitNotaTarget Fri 31-Jan-14 23:53:01

Probably not
I am an engineer BTW

Well that's a reassuring diagnosis there Megrim grin

(Like the time the Green Glag mechanic told me "Don't worry your engine won't blow up or catch fire" and until he said that, it hadn't occured to me that it might shock )

WorraLiberty Fri 31-Jan-14 23:58:09

That's not a bad quote Megrim

I've seen worse grin

Salmotrutta Sat 01-Feb-14 00:02:09


Ilanthe Sat 01-Feb-14 00:13:12

It takes quite a lot to make a building fall down, several years of neglect usually. If you're happily living in it, it's unlikely to fall down round your ears.

I went in a building once less than 24 hours before it collapsed. It makes me go cold thinking about it.

Freckletoes Sat 01-Feb-14 02:14:34

Ours was built 1712 and is still just about standing despite us knocking it around a huge amount. YABU. Some of the new cheap quickly built crap houses will fall down before yours!!

liquidstate Sat 01-Feb-14 09:05:55

I work with historic buildings. I would rather walk around a derelict Victorian building than a derelict 1980s Barratt home.

SomethingkindaOod Sat 01-Feb-14 09:10:27

I've lived in 2 Victorian built houses, both are still standing! They look in much better condition than the local newly built estate commonly known as Legoland which was badly built on a drained fishing lodge 20 years ago. Apparently damp is a major issue.

DowntonTrout Sat 01-Feb-14 09:17:25

My house was built in 1792.

It has sunk slightly in one corner over the years, they weren't very big on foundations in those days.

Despite that, and various hairline cracks in internal walls that are just lat and daub, the main walls are about 2ft thick and solid as a rock.

It's not going anywhere.

Merrylegs Sat 01-Feb-14 09:20:38

We bought a victorian townhouse with the most massive crack in the hall wall. It went from top to bottom and there was daylight. We couldn't get a mortgage until the thing had been stitched - literally - by a structural engineer. That was twenty years ago. Don't live there anymore but drive past a lot and it is still standing. So from my experience you're good for at least 20 yrs.

Wuxiapian Sat 01-Feb-14 09:20:54

I think you'll be ok - it's the poxy new-builds that'll be first to come down.

grumpyoldbat Sat 01-Feb-14 09:23:30

I've only personally known 2 houses to fall down. One was old but had been left sitting empty for about 50 years, roof damaged in storms etc do lot of leaks and more.

The other was in the 1980s and fell down after a couple of months because it had been built by a crooked idiot using shoddy materials.

Doesn't sound like your house falls into either of those categories.

Defnotsupergirl Sat 01-Feb-14 09:24:09

I live in a cottage built in 1400-1450. That is prior to Elizabeth 1, unless there is a specific problem your house will be fine.

perplexedpirate Sat 01-Feb-14 09:27:24

We used to live in a huge crumbling wreck of a place, built around 1800. Many many alterations had been done by people with only the vaguest grasp of engineering (and, indeed, gravity). The back wall had been banded and still bellowed a good foot.
None of the doors inside fit the frames because the whole building was on the squint. Every six months or so we'd patch the cracks in the plaster up with polyfilla and hope.
It's still up. It's a bloody fantastic house! smile

silverfingersandtoes Sat 01-Feb-14 09:29:19

I wonder this every time my 1890s Victorian house is battered by the gales coming off the Irish Sea. But I tell myself that is has been withstanding them all this time, just shows how strong it is.

beals692 Sat 01-Feb-14 09:41:07

Did you have a survey done when you moved in? That should tell you if there are any problems. I worry as well as my flat (in a converted Victorian house) does have a number of cracks in it. I got a full structural engineer's report when I bought the place which said the cracks were old, no signs of ongoing problems etc but I still sometimes think 'was that crack definitely there before?' - then look at photos from when I bought it and realise that, yes, it was there then and I've suddenly just noticed it and decided to start panicking about it!

Latara Sat 01-Feb-14 10:54:15

My mum works for an architect who renovates very old properties - some actually are cob cottages with NO foundations but they are still standing 100s of years later.

Victorian properties tend to be quite solidly built, probably better built than my 1980s house.

Quoteunquote Sat 01-Feb-14 12:30:26

It will out last the shit that is being built now, if you keep it properly maintained.

Pooka Sat 01-Feb-14 12:39:13

My grandmother's house was built in 1542.

It's still beautiful, structurally sound and standing. Yes, the roof bows a bit and it can be draughty. But it's still going strong.

The way I tend to see it, is that with older houses, all the problems that there might have been relating to subsidence, damp etc will have shown themselves gradually and will be sort-outable. With brand new houses or newer houses generally, you just don't know if you are going to be the owner who discovers a big problem and are left to sort it out.

Our house was built in 1902. We recently re-slated the roof for the first time since it was built, but only because we were having a loft conversion and it made sense to do the whole roof while the scaffolding was up. It's nicely settled, everything is sound fundamentally.

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