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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:
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LyraSilvertongue · 27/02/2008 22:09

We had a spectacular tree in the bay window at Christmas. Also enjoying lots of log fires. Would never buy a new build now.

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Cam · 27/02/2008 22:14

Draughty and expensive, yes. Constant maintenance.

Beautiful proportions and lovely atmosphere.

Our house is unique.

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francagoestohollywood · 27/02/2008 22:14

I love old English houses, they are beautiful and the wooden floors are amazing.

The only con of our old English house was that somehow mice managed to get inside .

And high ceilings room were difficult to warm up in the winter.

But they are beautiful (missing our house emoticon)

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PanicPants · 27/02/2008 22:15

Thankyou LyraSilvertongue

This is making me feel all christmassy again - have an urge to light the fire and get the tree out

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Cam · 27/02/2008 22:16

Log fires are the answer to cold rooms backed up by central heating and an aga

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pointydog · 27/02/2008 22:18

Therein lies the rub. You get your Victorian des res, weigh yourself down with hefty mortgage and then you need an aga. They don;t come cheap, you know.

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LyraSilvertongue · 27/02/2008 22:20

You don't need an aga, just open chimneys.

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Cam · 27/02/2008 22:21

Yah but pointydog, one has to cook on something so one may as well dry the socks at the same time

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francagoestohollywood · 27/02/2008 22:21

lol pointy. an aga. I feel a bit frustrated to be honest, I spent 8 yrs in the UK and didn't manage to get one, or even try one (which would have been more realistic)

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Cam · 27/02/2008 22:21

I don't want an open chimney in the kitchen, I'm not a witch

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pointydog · 27/02/2008 22:22

oho, I know all the pseudo-thrifty comments aga-owners come out with. I have a friend who recently purchased one.

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Cam · 27/02/2008 22:25

Constant hot water as well

My aga is circa 1974 it was already here

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LyraSilvertongue · 27/02/2008 22:30

I'd love an aga but I live in a tiny Victorian semi. We're trying to upgrade to a 'detached Victorian villa' but no-one wants to buy our house

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francagoestohollywood · 27/02/2008 22:30

cam

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francagoestohollywood · 27/02/2008 22:30

no one wants to buy our lovely house either . the bloody house market!

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LyraSilvertongue · 27/02/2008 22:32

We could have sold ours in minutes last year for a ridiculous price. Ho hum.

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francagoestohollywood · 27/02/2008 22:36

we always seem to choose the worst times for selling...

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allgonebellyup · 28/02/2008 09:49

Pros:

lovely huge rooms, including bedrooms
loads of character
fireplaces
bay windows
not living on an estate
beautiful outside and in!

Cons:

costs a fortune to heat
my house has thin walls so can hear a lot!
ours has tiny garden too
dusty
no parking!
wonky walls as everyone keeps saying!
damp

but i love it. am on market at moment and will only consider another Victiorian house, but the bleeding estate agents all keep phoning me saying "ooh we've just got a lovely 1980s terrace on the market, perfect for you!"
Er, no.
I want another Victiorian, thanks v much.

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JillJ72 · 28/02/2008 10:32

Our last house was 12 years old, we moved shortly before Christmas to this 108 year old. It's gone from a "lick of paint" kind of thing to a renovation project that has been going a month now, but the bulk of the work is now complete.

Pros:

  • big rooms (esp when lounge/diner is knocked through as ours is)
  • high ceilings
  • big kitchen
  • downstairs bathroom (this hasn't been the problem I thought it might be!)
  • space alongside the kitchen to knock through or add on a conservatory (at present there is a ramshackle lean-to, I dream of the day it becomes a bona fide garden room)
  • heaps of scope for putting your stamp on the place
  • paint schemes in DIY stores, the possibilities are endless
  • people admiring your home, regardless of its current state (potential abounds!)
  • the age, character, history, quirks and charm


Cons:
  • it is colder and draughtier
  • middle of the night toilet run can be a tad chilly at times
  • it can be a 'long walk' from back door to front door when someone (usually MIL) is knocking impatiently
  • parking permit only (hasn't really been a major problem for us), restricted visitor parking (which is a problem)
  • and we bear in mind the bills.....!


For years I admired my friend's Victorian house and said I'd like to live in one. As it turned out, this was really the best affordable option available to us; the kind of modern 3-bed we'd have wanted (space to swing more than one cat and have a decent garden) was out of our range. As it is, we're in the middle of a town but it's so quiet and leafy and pleasant. I think we'll be here for some years
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Cam · 28/02/2008 10:51

My house is over 300 years old, it was originally two tiny farmhouses built in the 1700's then joined together with a Georgian facade in the 1800's so it now looks like a Georgian villa but has two separate staircases inside.

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princessosyth · 28/02/2008 10:58

Pros

They are all different - no one else will have quite the same layout

Lots of character

Atmospheric and cosy in the winter

Cons

The victorian didn't live like we do and they don't tend to be as suited to family life as a newer house

Expensive to maintain - always something to spend your cash on

Lack of parking with is a real PITA

Not all old houses are spacious - We live in a small 2 bed victorian house and we have much less space and light than a new build

Unless I could afford a really fabaroonie spacious victorian house I would choose a 1930's semi I think they do have character too and so much scope to extend and improve.

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branflake81 · 28/02/2008 11:07

Not all Victorian houses are spacious. Ours is a 2 up 2 down, the walls are very thin and there's no parking.

but other than that it's great -it's got soul I think.

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Fennel · 28/02/2008 11:12

We love old houses. Ours has a secret cellar, bricked up 50 years ago, which DP found by accident. One day we're going to excavate it. We also have secret passages (complete with mice) within the thick old walls, you can get into our neighbour's houses that way (like in the Magician's Nephew). Or you can sneak out onto the neighbour's roof, but I hope the dds don't work that out.

It's a very high maintenance house though, high ceilings and draughty. But DP loves DIY and building and rewiring so it keeps him very happy.

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Zazette · 28/02/2008 11:34

Often, there are issues to consider which are not so much to do with the house itself as the kind of area that is created by clusters of houses of a certain period.

E.g. I think 30s houses are rather nice, and where I live they tend to have bigger gardens than older ones, which is a draw for me. But they also (here - not inevitably, though I don't think these features are unusual) tend to be in a kind of outer suburbia which has very few local facilities, is a bit drearily quiet for my tastes, and really makes life difficult unless you are a two-car household. And those are real drawbacks for me, though they have nothing to do with the actual houses.

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GrumpyOldHorsewoman · 28/02/2008 11:42

I have lived in a large variety of old houses. Most have been lovely - inglenook fireplaces complete with old bread oven, wooden casement windows, cottage gardens, thick walls even a thatched roof (once).

ATM, I'm living in an 1870 house and it's awful. It's like a rabbit warren - you're always on the turn and can come over dizzy on the trip from the sitting room to the main bedroom. The bedrooms are all small with sloping ceilings so there's only one wall in each room where a wardrobe will fit. Some of the floorboards upstairs are starting to sink and it's all wonky and creaky. The kitchen is narrow and not the least user-friendly. The electrics haven't been updated since they were installed about 50 years ago, and no electrician will do any work on the house until it has been completely re-wired (which the landlord insists it doesn't need). We have had a couple of companies look at the roof for repair - it's shockingly bad- but both companies said it was 'too big a job'. The built-in cupboards smell musty and have peeling paint and black mold on the walls, which is why you need wardrobes because you wouldn't keep anything in them. Basically, the house is in such a state of neglect, it's practically terminal decline. I actually cried when I first saw it, because there was SO much to do, and little hope of getting it done. Now, 18 months later, it's the same shit-tip it was then and is practically a moving-out job. If a property hasn't been well-cared-for, it's not worth doing unless you have a serious amount of money to spare.

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