What to look for when buying a 1930s house?(39 Posts)
We're hoping to purchase an extended 1930s semi and was just wondering if there is anything to look out for with this type of house? Also what's particularly nice about living in this type of house?
Thanks in advance
Don't what to look out for (if you mean potential pitfalls) and not sure if you're talking thirties deco or standard thirties style, but we've ended up in a thirties house because we couldn't afford our preferred Victorian property of the same size in this area. I like the height of the ceilings (high but not so high you need scaffolding to paint), the built in cupboards and the big windows. I also love the original features (we have some of the original doors and I hanker after a thirties fireplace). They're a practical family house; solid and no-nonsense, IMO.
Have not found any pitfalls with our 30's house. Second the great high ceilings and large windows. We were not able to have stripped floors downstairs as there was only an airspace and then the bare earth so it would have been too drafty.
Just watch out on the extension - was it properly keyed into the original. Has it got cavity walls (our 1934 one didn't have - but our current 1926 one does have that).
Make sure any loft conversion is properly supported and not just sitting on the ceiling trusses (throws angry glance at former owners). Watch out for dodgy wiring too (in all older houses actually).
Ours had a push-fit mains water pipe. Had to update the ancient boiler as one of our first jobs and had a waterfall through the house when everything was switched on again.
Garden a complete nightmare too. Knew it was bad, but didn't anticipate how bad. Lots of leylandii. Bottom third covered in concrete. (Couldn't see this under all detritus from trees on all sides. Under concrete lots of asbestos.) All flowerbeds full of rubble. Therefore everything mostly dead. Patio in top third surrounded by flowerbeds on concrete. Under patio masses of building rubble and old anderson shelter plus foundations of old outbuildings.
Old extension with host of problems not picked up by survey which started revealing themselves within weeks of moving in.
Upstairs chimney breast/flue full if builders' rubble. (Wanted to open it up.)
Various valves, knackered taps, one radiator keeps stopping working ....... And lots of bodge DIY jobs too. But our previous house had that too. (Takes time to unravel.)
Will be lovely in ten years or so when it's all finally sorted!
Oooh our original 1934 house had lead pipes...
We have a bog standard late 1930s house (2 doubles+box room). Check when it was last rewired. We had to rewire ours and that was a bit of a shock as it was a couple of grand.
Check how easy it would be to add a second loo. Unless we extend/ move boiler and circuit board (i think), we don't have room to put loo downstairs under stairs.
Good points for us are they are solid (rarely hear neighbours) and large long, narrowish garden.
Check for damp course, brick work sealed as the bricks are porous and can let in rain.
Subsidence, wall ties.
Check roof as probably just slated as this is what they were built like.
Don't automatically get cavity wall insulation, we are having to take ours out and were advised that we shouldn't have had it.
Look for blown plaster, significant cracks, especially round windows.
That's about it I think.
We love ours and whilst maintenance eats your money up it suits our needs.
I second the rewiring. Just had ours done and the state the original was revealed to have been in was truly scary.
Also don't believe the survey when it says you have cavity walls - ask the vendor!!
We have asbestos in our garage which is going to be a pain to sort when we rebuild.
Some of the houses still don't have the felt and batten in the roof.
If you can keep the original doors, stained glass and fireplaces then you'll be luckier than me
What do cracks mean? We have a 30s semi and I've notice a couple of big long cracks appearing on the inside walls over the last couples of years. Please tell me it might just be plaster shifting! We're planning an extension this year and can't face the shock of being told the whole house is shifting once they start digging!
Ours are mostly blown plaster, but one wall was moving due to a rubbish loft conversion.
Rioja is right - I'm really annoyed the vendors changed the doors for horrible modern white ones!! It's costing a fortune to try to source replacements!
Look at the windows, double glazing will probably have been put in at some time. Ask when it was done and whether they are guaranteed through the FENSA scheme (there should be certificates with the deeds). As others have said look if it needs rewiring (if you try to count the plug sockets in each room - if there is only 1 its more than likely going to need rewiring). Is there a garage - think ours has an asbestos roof. No problem for now but will add to the cost of demolition.
Extension - check it was done properly with planning permission etc. Is it leasehold? Ours is a 999 year lease, have to pay a nominal ground yr each yr 4 pounds but important point is that we need freeholders consent to extend. Check house has this if necessary!
Good luck, love ours!!
Thanks everyone, very helpful.
Fingers crossed we secure the house!!
The biggest problem with our 1930s house is condensation in master bedroom bay. The wall gets very damp between oct and march. From what I've read only answer is to tank plaster the walls.
i love our 1930s house. big bay windows, high ceilings, we are lucky and have all original doors although some shocking 1970s decor.
our chimneys leak... trying to get someone to sort them soon.
I found reproduction doors for about £70 each. Fire doors were £165 though.
chimneys. check if they are twisted or still at original height as they can be costly to get reduced but often need it. if they have been reduced already and you want to be able to use the fires then they could have been reduced too far (ours have)
definitely check how the extension is attached to the house - that seems a common cause of problems.
plaster - we have a patch on the stairs which is kind of still intact but isn't actually attached to the wall any longer.
check about air vent/brick things. if cavity walls have been done and fireplaces have been sealed then you could get damp issues. our chimneys are just stuffed with newspaper and we still have all the air vents so although we have had the insulation and cavity walls and double glazing done we haven't got any damp issues.
we are lucky - we have original internal doors and stained glass windows still and have managed to get hold of a reclaimed front door which is the right age and style from a local company.
lead pipes aren't unusual - I am pretty sure though that they aren't really a problem, sure I read that somewhere.
and rewiring yes. oh and standard stuff like age of boiler, radiators, water tank etc worth checking.
We've recently bought a 1930s house.
Pros: massive proportions of rooms, lovely big windows, if extension done well then loads of space at back of property. I think they look absolutely lovely if you have a whole road of detached ones!
Cons: lead piping (cost to replace is significant and for us would involve digging up driveway) - but you can get your local water company out to check the lead levels in the water. Ours were so insignificant the advice was it was very safe to drink, so we're not going to bother with the lead pipes for now. Another con though - check the bays, the supporting bit in the middle of the upstairs and downstairs bays, as there can be slippage. This is a job for a structural engineer and if you are thinking of new windows at any point you need to check this bit is sound and can take them. You also need to budget for properly fitted windows in the bays if you need/want to replace them - very costly.
Lastly yes the roof, we have found we are probably looking at a new roof as ours is the original slates and the chimneys will probably need taking down or rebuilding.
All in all, do I regret buying the house? Not at all, but be prepared to dig deep into your pockets and consider a newer property if you don't want any surprises at all!!
Those of you with original doors, could you post a pic? I'm wondering if we do.
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