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What's it like to live in an older (ie Victorian) house? Pros and cons please.

109 replies

TsarChasm · 27/02/2008 19:06

If we ever get out of out of our 3 bed semi I would love to buy an older house.

I've not lived in an older property before but it seems to me that they are bigger inside (ie you get more for you money) are better built (ie not plaster board walls and chipboard floors) and have more character.

Can you tell I'm very disenfranchised by my house

I'm starting to hate the way newer houses are asking more money for so little living space and quality.

So what are older houses like? Draughty and expensive or better than newer houses? Do you love or hate yours?

OP posts:
kerala · 27/02/2008 19:42

Heartened to read this as just had our offer accepted for a house 2 floors of which date from 1790s. Am a sucker for the atmosphere of old houses - just trying to explain our choice to a MIL who thinks anything built before 1970 is asking for trouble.

TsarChasm · 27/02/2008 19:42

we have no parking here though (1980's semi). It drives me insane.

OP posts:
MrsMattie · 27/02/2008 19:42

We had mice in our Victorian terrace - the whole street had a pretty much ongoing mousey problem, actully. I don't blame that on the Victorians, though, I blame it on Hackney being a rubbish strewn dump .

nickytwotimes · 27/02/2008 19:43

I also haven't read the entire thread, but in answer to the op (and speaking as someone who lives in an early vic house)
PRO: Size of rooms
thick walls
ceiling height
original features, eg coving, etc
historical "romance" of it all - I love thinking about who has lived here, what their life was like, etc

CON: Constant maintainence
fight against the entry of damp, from below, above...
layout - changing can be expensive!

if I think of any more, i'll add them!

wheelybug · 27/02/2008 19:44

I think this thread probably shows that you either like old houses or modern houses and there's no rhyme or reason why. It just is.

DH pretends to want a modern house but he always manages to fall for the older house...

hippipotami · 27/02/2008 19:44

MrsMattie, that's what we have started doing. We moved into this house 10 years ago from a bland 1970's flat. Over the pat 10 years we have got rid of our nasty Ikea furniture (disclaimer not all ikea furniture is nasty, just the stuff we had) and have acquired:

a true Victorian chest of drawers (pine and simple farmhouse style, inherited from dh's grandad)
a true Victorian trunk (via an old gentleman in Portsmouth)
a 1920's double school desk complete with inkwell (found by the recycling bins in our village carpark)
a 1920'2 or so carved leg extendable solid oak dining table (dh was asked to take it to the skip by his boss as it did not fit into the new build this boss had just moved into)
two Victorian cast iron bedroom fireplaces which we have had shotblasted and restored
a Victorian reclaimed radiator which we have had shotblasted and restored and now graces our bathroom

And there are many many more items we would like for the house, dining chairs which match the table for a start. But the fun is in the hunting, and in owning and loving something old, and the fact that not many people are going to walk into your house adn say 'I have that dining table'

For me that is part of the fun.

TheBlonde · 27/02/2008 19:44

pros are big windows, high ceilings, nice fireplaces and cornicing (if you are lucky and they remain)

cons - some are wonky, round here the foundations were not deep enough so they have all dropped slightly on the chimney side
drafty, gappy windows and floors, huge heating bills

wheelybug · 27/02/2008 19:45

Also, older houses tend to have smaller rooms rather than open plan so depends if you like that or not.

wheelybug · 27/02/2008 19:46

I think looking at this thread -

the pros - are touchy feely things
the cons - practicalities

TsarChasm · 27/02/2008 19:47

Lynette...haunted?? Yikes! That I wouldn't like. There's only so much charm I want.

OP posts:
hellsbells76 · 27/02/2008 19:49

mine is c. 1860s mid terrace and mostly i love it (huuge rooms, high ceilings, real character, that lovely wondering about all the stories it's seen)...but then again last week the gas bill arrived - £300 despite the fact i've been freezing my tits off all winter and spending a fiver a night on logs just to keep the living room warm...i did say a few Very Bad Words and declared my intention to move to a barratt home

Mercy · 27/02/2008 19:49


Sash windows look great but rattle in the wind and are a bugger to clean. The cords can break.

Some (not very interesting) original features remain but some have been removed and cost a fortune to replace

Toilet or even bathroom might be downstairs

Potential subsidence esp if you have a bay window

CatIsSleepy · 27/02/2008 19:50

we live in a victorian semi
it's not huge but nicely proportioned
suits our furniture/general air of clutter + lots of books
walls/doorways a bit wonky but that adds character
damp can be a problem-this house is ok but our last place (a flat, also victorian) had a problem with condensation

if you're lucky you'll get nice fireplaces
if not you can always add them back in

CatIsSleepy · 27/02/2008 19:51

semi, why did I say that? wishful thinking
it's actually a terrace

MrsMattie · 27/02/2008 20:05

Our old house - Victorian terrace was very narrow. The rooms were long and thin, and it pissed me off because it really limited how you could arrange furniture.

hippipotami - we're trying to get hold of some original bits and bobs for our house, too. I think I'm going to become a bit of an antiques bore!

hippipotami · 27/02/2008 20:16

Me too Dh just shakes his head and smiles at me indulgently. He is a bit concerned I am going to turn into one of those odd biddies who scour antique fairs every weekend though

My friend (who lives in the most stunning Victorian detached house which her and her dh renovated themselves) is currently doing an uphostery course, so I am on the lookout for an old winged armchair which she can upholster for me, or maybe a chaise lounge or old sofa.... The possibilities are endless

kaballie · 27/02/2008 20:21

Scary for the first couple of years as you worry about everything that has/could go wrong. Then you just chill out, figuring that it has been standing for over a hundred years and will probably still be there long after you've gone.

MrsMattie · 27/02/2008 20:21

Oooh, upholstered chaise lounge sounds lovely! I have had a lifetime of crap Ikea stuff that falls apart when you touch it. I'm determined to get some quality original pieces for this house.

janeite · 27/02/2008 20:27

When we were buying ours and I took pictures into work, a colleague looked at one of the lovely big window and said "That's just begging for a Christmas tree to be sitting in it" - so I agree about ethe Christmas trees!

Pros - bigger rooms, fab high ceilings, lovely original features (ours has 2 lovely ladies on the arch in the hallway and they always make me smile), lovely bay window which the girls like to "spy" out of.

Cons - expensive to heat, the "middle room" which leads into the kitchen feels rather like a corridor as the house is so long and narrow, small garden as a lot of it is just passage way at the side of the house and so wasted space really.

I love it though and couldn't contemplate a new house - ever - although I think dp would quite like one.

Threadworm · 27/02/2008 20:29

I love ours. There ndoes seem to be a constant routine of minor maintenance, but at least you know that since it has stood up for 110 years, nothing major is likely to show up.

cupsoftea · 27/02/2008 20:32

Best aspect is that it's a unique house and has lots of character. Lots of space and great design.

Colder & draughty but wear a cardi & have a shawl plus have lots of cosy blankets.

Damp in basement but keep it aired

FuriousGeorge · 27/02/2008 21:31

This has made me realise that I still miss my lovely old Edwardian terrace,after nearly 3 years.

It had huge rooms,a utility,2 loos,period features,100ft garden,huuuge landing,massive bathroom,thick walls an potential to extend up into the loft.The downside was that it was in a bit of a dodgy area of town.

And I gave it up for a 1960's semi [sob!],in a gorgeous village though.


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PanicPants · 27/02/2008 21:34

I love mine. It's so much bigger than my tiny 2 bed new build I had before.

But no room in my house is straight, so tiling is a pita, we have got some damp - but that isn't due to the age of the house rather the crappy extension the previous owners put in.

Best bit: Having an open fire in the winter with the original fire place - bliss!

PanicPants · 27/02/2008 21:36

Oh yes huge long garden, and bay window for the Christmas tree!

My heating bills have gone up a bit though

LyraSilvertongue · 27/02/2008 22:08

PanicPants, I love your name.

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