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Which kind of houses are most durable ? Timber Frames, BISF, Stone Houses or any other modern

16 replies

VandFamily · 29/04/2023 22:34

Hi Everyone,

We are moved here from Germany few years ago and planning to buy a house in UK. The architecture in UK is somewhat different from the one in our home country given special conditions of weather and taste.
So I was looking for some info on the type of custruction material and durability of houses in UK. From Energy efficiency point of view, I believe the newer houses are better but I am not sure which one are more durable and which ones are at greater risk to turmites, moss or moisture damage.

if someone can give some pointers or share their experience in this direction I would really appreciate it.

We will anyway plan to a private surveyor to do level 2 or level 3 survey of the house before putting things on paper, but any guidance or things to check would be really helpful.

Thanks in advance.

OP posts:
Sylviag · 30/04/2023 01:21

Best energy efficiency, no doubt new build.

but a little bit small bedroom, smaller windows, sometime dinning combined into open plan kitchen, smaller garden, sometime located in middle of nowhere. You pay the premium for its “new” but obviously it will get “old”

not my favourite

almostwarm · 30/04/2023 01:31

New build will be the most energy efficient but probably the worst build quality.
They also tend to have smaller rooms and lower ceilings.

Moss and termites are not a usual concern in any type of house.

Period homes usually cost more because they often have more space and a more desirable aesthetic.

Older homes usually have more damp issues but any house can suffer from them.

Where are you thinking of buying? This will impact the housing stock available.

HipHipCimorene · 30/04/2023 04:21

I’d look for stone buildings, thick walls, but not listed. If they’re listed it’s hard to get permission to put in double glazing and such

You only have to consider damp if they are low lying really. Again if they’re not then they can be sealed, but this often affects the long term durability of the older building as they were built to breath. damp occurs if a building is not well ventilated, so make sure it is.

New builds as PP have said will be the best from an energy efficiency point of view. But the internal walls are plasterboard between rooms, and the spaces and gardens often smaller.

BISF buildings as they are non standard construction can be difficult to sell as not all mortgage companies will offer a mortgage on them.

Older timber buildings if they are listed are cold…trust me I live in one. But if they are not listed can be upgraded to offer excellent up to date energy efficiency without having to add extra layers and loose floor space. The rooms are larger but some more cottage types have low ceilings as people were shorter.

Traditional Victorian or Georgian houses of brick if they are double glazed and have roof insulation are an excellent alternative to new builds, Georgian houses tend to have larger rooms with higher ceilings.

We don’t have issues with termites or moss. We get woodlice if there’s wood in a property but they are just wood lice. Older buildings can get infestations ( beetle ) which eat away the wood if the building is damp but is easily treated and they only eat the soft outer wood, never the harder core which is actually doing all the structural work.

Surveys will pick up any issues that could be of a concern.
Plus each property in the uk can’t be sold without an EPC showing how energy efficient it is. It will be on all the info you see when you spot a house you want to look at.

Good luck OP

Sylviag · 30/04/2023 04:41

Basically 1930s houses are everywhere across the country.

very balanced one

you can do some improvements in order to achieve a better EPC, C without any problems or even B if you have solar panels.

but after all location location location

Sylviag · 30/04/2023 04:43

HipHipCimorene · 30/04/2023 04:21

I’d look for stone buildings, thick walls, but not listed. If they’re listed it’s hard to get permission to put in double glazing and such

You only have to consider damp if they are low lying really. Again if they’re not then they can be sealed, but this often affects the long term durability of the older building as they were built to breath. damp occurs if a building is not well ventilated, so make sure it is.

New builds as PP have said will be the best from an energy efficiency point of view. But the internal walls are plasterboard between rooms, and the spaces and gardens often smaller.

BISF buildings as they are non standard construction can be difficult to sell as not all mortgage companies will offer a mortgage on them.

Older timber buildings if they are listed are cold…trust me I live in one. But if they are not listed can be upgraded to offer excellent up to date energy efficiency without having to add extra layers and loose floor space. The rooms are larger but some more cottage types have low ceilings as people were shorter.

Traditional Victorian or Georgian houses of brick if they are double glazed and have roof insulation are an excellent alternative to new builds, Georgian houses tend to have larger rooms with higher ceilings.

We don’t have issues with termites or moss. We get woodlice if there’s wood in a property but they are just wood lice. Older buildings can get infestations ( beetle ) which eat away the wood if the building is damp but is easily treated and they only eat the soft outer wood, never the harder core which is actually doing all the structural work.

Surveys will pick up any issues that could be of a concern.
Plus each property in the uk can’t be sold without an EPC showing how energy efficient it is. It will be on all the info you see when you spot a house you want to look at.

Good luck OP

I would love to have higher ceiling and bigger windows even with lower EPC😍

HipHipCimorene · 30/04/2023 04:45

Sylviag · 30/04/2023 04:43

I would love to have higher ceiling and bigger windows even with lower EPC😍

Me too.
Its easy to just put on your thermals

Sylviag · 30/04/2023 04:57

HipHipCimorene · 30/04/2023 04:45

Me too.
Its easy to just put on your thermals

True, EPC isn’t the only we should think about.

location, neighbourhood, school, garden, house size, ………………………, and EPC

HipHipCimorene · 30/04/2023 05:11

Sylviag · 30/04/2023 04:57

True, EPC isn’t the only we should think about.

location, neighbourhood, school, garden, house size, ………………………, and EPC

To be honest I’ve never taken any notice of the epc but OP seemed concerned which is why I concentrated on it. If I cared I wouldn’t have bought the house I’m in now.

Cinnamonandcoal · 30/04/2023 07:16

Bear in mind EPC reflects energy cost rather than efficiency. So a property with electric heating and an air source heat pump could have a lower EPC than a less efficient gas heated property, because gas is cheaper. It's not a great measure.

New builds can be very good but it does depend on the developer.

VandFamily · 30/04/2023 17:48

@HipHipCimorene @Sylviag
thanks for your generous advice. It gives me some points to sort on. There are some areas and villages around London that we are visiting these days to get a feel of them, now we have almost zeroed down on some villages. However, Durability and low maintainence are the major factor that we still haven’t zeroed down on, that’s where you advice is very valuable.

OP posts:
almostwarm · 30/04/2023 19:26

I think houses from the 70's have a lot going for them. They aren't pretty but they tend to be better built than most modern houses and have decent size rooms and gardens.

HipHipCimorene · 30/04/2023 20:57

VandFamily · 30/04/2023 17:48

@HipHipCimorene @Sylviag
thanks for your generous advice. It gives me some points to sort on. There are some areas and villages around London that we are visiting these days to get a feel of them, now we have almost zeroed down on some villages. However, Durability and low maintainence are the major factor that we still haven’t zeroed down on, that’s where you advice is very valuable.

You’re welcome.
Im an architect and we have developed a lot. So I suppose I’ve just got a bit savvy over time.
Good luck.

BlueMongoose · 30/04/2023 21:05

You get bigger rooms and windows in the 1960s houses than more recent builds, smaller kitchens too unless extended. More recent houses, usually gradually better insulation over time, usually smaller plots for the same size of house so less room to extend if you want to, smaller windows so darker inside, and they tend to have smaller rooms, though kitchens are larger on average. As time goes on, less and less storage space, bedroom size sacrificed to add titchy ensuite bathrooms.
Some of the most modern houses are built for a design lifespan of mere 70 years, which tells you how lousy many of them are.
I always have a survey.
Pre 1960s, brick, depends on the specific build, and the specific brick, and even older stone houses, usually very solid, but you absolutely do need a good survey when you get to any house that age. These houses will be colder as a rule.
Personally I'd go 1960s unless I wanted an older house for some reason.
Older than that and general maintenance over its lifetime becomes a bigger factor in it condition.
We currently have a 1920s 'Accrington red brick' house, with render above 1m. Very solid indeed (that type of brick is very, very solid, unlike some modern bricks). Very chilly in the winter, but parts of it stayed nice and cool all last summer. Good sized rooms, and a generous plot.
The UK is a damp climate, as doubtless you have already found! This does mean that you do need to ventilate houses -even in cold weather- to keep them dry.
Good luck, and welcome.

Sylviag · 01/05/2023 00:52

VandFamily · 30/04/2023 17:48

@HipHipCimorene @Sylviag
thanks for your generous advice. It gives me some points to sort on. There are some areas and villages around London that we are visiting these days to get a feel of them, now we have almost zeroed down on some villages. However, Durability and low maintainence are the major factor that we still haven’t zeroed down on, that’s where you advice is very valuable.

Btw if “low maintenance” is the major factor to you, I would say don’t go for built-in kitchen appliances, pretty hard to replace with new one without breaking the plinth.

Cattenberg · 01/05/2023 01:53

BISF buildings as they are non standard construction can be difficult to sell as not all mortgage companies will offer a mortgage on them.

Yep, I have one. If you’re thinking of buying one, consider getting a structural survey to check the steel frame is still in good condition and that no one has installed an unsuitable type of insulation.

For example, cavity wall insulation can make the steel frame “sweat” and rust. One of my neighbours has just sold her steel-framed house. When her buyers found out it had cavity wall insulation, they said they’d only proceed with the purchase if the insulation was removed first. My neighbour had it done and it didn’t look like a cheap or easy job.

Cattenberg · 01/05/2023 02:00

However, the advantage of BISF properties is that they’re normally significantly cheaper to buy than an identical property of standard construction. Also, they can be very durable provided they were built and maintained properly.

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