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Draughty rented Grade 2 listed cottage

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


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.

The nice cream one has sold out though sad

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

Here's the plastic secondary glazing stuff:
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!

Madamecastafiore Mon 25-Mar-13 12:36:31

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?

LRDtheFeministDragon Mon 25-Mar-13 12:46:56

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?

LRDtheFeministDragon Mon 25-Mar-13 12:59:55

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

LRDtheFeministDragon Mon 25-Mar-13 13:47:07

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

LRDtheFeministDragon Mon 25-Mar-13 13:47:28

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

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