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Tell me about living in an old house...

(47 Posts)
Gravenwithdiamonds Wed 24-Oct-12 19:31:43

Looking at a Georgian house with a view to making an offer - beautiful, spacious etc.

But it's 200-300 years old so I'm also imagining it's cold (high ceilings, massive windows, though it has newish boilers and good water pressure), draughty, expensive to run (no double glazing). We currently live in a cosy small 1920s semi with double glazing, insulation etc. Should we expect a massive hike in upkeep/running costs if we moved? What are the other downsides to living in an old house? (It's not listed BTW and we would get a full survey).

LadyMaryCreepyCrawley Wed 24-Oct-12 19:33:12

envy I'd love to live in a house like that. Have you asked the current owners about their bills?

Caerlaverock Wed 24-Oct-12 19:34:40

It will be cold and expensive to maintain, roof, windows etc. there will be damp, rot etc. if you accept all of the above you will be very happy

Gravenwithdiamonds Wed 24-Oct-12 19:36:29

No - we didn't really get the chance. I know they use the real fire a lot and there's a lot of radiators.

azazello Wed 24-Oct-12 19:37:31

I live in an old house. There is no damp or rot because it is lime mortar and the house can breathe. Heating is fairly expensive but secondary glazing and wood burning stoves are fab. Can be absolutely fine but you might want to check the EPC. Good job it isn't listed though. That is a total PITA.

Gravenwithdiamonds Wed 24-Oct-12 19:40:06

I was hoping that a house that has lasted that long would be fairly solid! Fixing the roof is my concern plus the cost of fixing eg, a broken window.

Surely not all old houses are damp and rotten? <crosses fingers>

ATourchOfInsanity Wed 24-Oct-12 19:41:55

Good thing about old houses are that the bricks keep heat in more it seems. In the summer my house is lovely and cool and in winter retains the warmth. You need good heavy curtains to keep out draughts and maybe a couple of those roll things to go under any doors - these always look as if they wouldn't annoy you if someone wanted to open the door,r:1,s:0,i:72 If you want open floor boards that can be draughty so a good sealant between boards would help. If I think of anything else I will let you know.
Oh and check the roof as that can get VERY expensive.

LadyMaryCreepyCrawley Wed 24-Oct-12 19:42:20

We moved into a victorian house in June. It has sash windows, open and log fires. It's cheaper to heat one room with a log fire, so save the heating for when you need it. Thick curtains will help with the windows, you can also get shutters which keep in the heat/keep out the cold.

Technoprisoners Wed 24-Oct-12 19:44:18

Don't underestimate the sophistication of Georgian technologies - for eg, I would expect the house to be oriented perfectly to deal with the elements? Do the windows have shutters, (Georgian double-glazing), effective fireplaces and flues, thick doors, stone walls? So the property isn't a modern, sealed & airless box but that doesn't mean your bills will be sky-high. Make sure the insulation is up to scratch and make any window repairs a priority.

ATourchOfInsanity Wed 24-Oct-12 19:44:18

X posted re the roof! Worth getting a surveyor in, not roofing company as hard to find an honest one. If it needs doing get a recommendation or checkatrade are usually good.

Most old houses don't have damp if they have been looked after. Most damp problems are from bad choice to build (something I have noticed with the 2 large local new builds, on flood plains!) or a wonky drain pipe that has been chucking water on the walls or too close without proper drainage for many months/years.
Again the surveyor should be able to point this out very easily.

MoreBeta Wed 24-Oct-12 19:46:21

Graven - I live in a house exactly like that one you describe.

It is very expensive to heat indeed.

Luckily, I rent it and don't own it. The repair bills will take all your money. I would be extremely surprised if your house is not listed Please check that very carefully. Also there is nothing stopping any random stranger applying to get your house listed after you buy it just to stop you making changes.

If it is Listed you will have to comply with listing rules and that will double/triple the cost of repairs. A neighbour of mine had to put in a £30k Georgian replica staircase and glass in the windows is 'Crown' glass - not ordinary glass.

JudeFawley Wed 24-Oct-12 19:46:33

I'd love a Georgian house with those big windows and high ceilings. My neighbour has a huge one - it's very beautiful.

We live in the opposite. It's old (1640) with low ceilings and tiny leaded light windows. We do love it though. The listed status can be a pita however.

Most Georgian houses are listed though because of their age. Are you sure it isn't?

ATourchOfInsanity Wed 24-Oct-12 19:49:43

Real fires are great - you can roast marshmallows/chestnuts and burn old lavender/applewood etc to have a lovely smelling house smile

Old houses are more economical IMO as new builds are tiny and usually develop problems within 5/10 years.

Windows only need to be done once every 15-20 years or so and my sash windows cost 250 each as I agreed to paint them myself after he did the weights and draught proofing. There are ways to keep costs down. If you are particularly worried ask the sellers to put things right before completion if you can negotiate a bit?

They should also be happy to let you have copies of last bills - or at least the companies they use as you can then carry on with the same supplier. Worth asking!

KirstyJC Wed 24-Oct-12 19:50:56

Wow that sounds lovely! We live in a house built approx 200 - 250 years ago, and this is also not listed, although we are in a conservation area.

We had to draughtproof the sash windows (£280 each) and tbh the rest is mostly cosmetic. (and a result of their 7 incontinent cats!)

They had redone the roof less than 20 years ago though - I must admit a dodgy roof would have put me off! If you could get it looked at professionally, then any problems maybe you could amend the asking price? My friends did this when the survey picked up 20 grands' worth of work and they still bought the house, just for 20 grand cheaper!

And long thick curtains by the doors, and add brush bars to the bottom.

charleybarley Wed 24-Oct-12 19:51:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

spicandspan Wed 24-Oct-12 19:53:15

we moved into an 1840s house. We had full survey but they dont catch everything. it has eaten all our money. be careful.

imperialstateknickers Wed 24-Oct-12 19:53:36

Virtually the entire street here is listed, and it's a PITA. Especially as the back of ours is 17th century, the front 18th, and there's a big chunk of 19th century crap repair work that's in the listing but completely structurally incompatible with the earlier bits, it's failing, damp rampaging, and bloody listing means that if we replace it we have to replace it with the same which will still let damp in. <fumes>

And MoreBeta is right, you might not know you've been Listed or Conservation Area-d until the letter arrives...

Gravenwithdiamonds Wed 24-Oct-12 19:54:40

Some of the windows have shutters, there are stone walls, thick doors etc. three-quarters of the house would get the sun over the course of the day (i think, have only visited once). It didn't feel cold or damp but then, perhaps the owner had cranked the heating up before we arrived. Parts are Victorian and are smaller in scale. I'm just very wary as our current house is very cheap to run and I have very little experience of this type of building - I imagine that repairs to any part of it could astronomical.

We did live in a 300 year old flat in Spain with no heating at all and it was fine - cool in summer, warm in winter etc as it was so solidly built.

Thanks for all the advice.

bureni Wed 24-Oct-12 19:54:41

My house was built in 1760 and is no different to a modern house when it comes to heating, it has the advantage of having high ceilings and bigger windows which makes the house much brighter compared to modern homes. A timber and damp check is essential and not hard to do, also check that the roof is in good condition and that some form of waterproof felt has been installed under the original roof tiles/slates (most have).

discrete Wed 24-Oct-12 19:55:39

Old houses have more thermal mass - that means they stay warmer in winter once they are warm and cooler in summer.

The downside is that they take ages to warm up if you go away in winter and come back to a cold house.

Wood fired stoves are fantastic for houses like this, as the heat from them heats up the whole mass of the building. I highly recommend that you see whether there is a way to include one in the house.

Caerlaverock Wed 24-Oct-12 19:56:25

Once you get used to high ceilings there is no going back!

charleybarley Wed 24-Oct-12 19:56:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

DustyMoth Wed 24-Oct-12 20:01:10

We live in a Georgian house, it isn't listed. I'm not sure if it is more expensive but we tend to rely more on the fire than the heating. I agree that damp is usually caused by build errors than the age of the property, we only have damp in the room which has a gate post next to the exterior wall, trapping water in the corner. We did have to replace the chimney so check that if you can because it is so expensive to do.

Bilbobagginstummy Wed 24-Oct-12 20:01:34

Definitely talk to the current owners.

My house is 200-odd years old, and the main downside is the constant stream of maintenance bills. These add up: roofing cement for bay, repaint outside window, clear inaccessible guttering, refit ball cock in inaccessible cold water tank...

There is a bit of damp, from over-wet ground and poor mortar repointing choices, but the main thing is that it just requires more TLC to keep it going. Like an old person, though, it's lovely and cosy too.

bureni Wed 24-Oct-12 20:02:01

discrete, 100% agree with the wood burner idea. My walls are between 3 and 4 feet thick in places with a double skin rubble infill construction, the wood burner charges the walls up which in turn release their heat at night making my home warmer and easier to heat than any modern house I have lived in.

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