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Anyone here ever owned a really old cottage?

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in House Buying, Renting & Selling
37 replies 3.5K views


  • FreeBearFreeBear Forumite
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    Amarna wrote: »
    Ive had three surveys done ... one for the damp and wood

    Are there any money saving hacks I should know about when it comes to maintenance?

    The "damp & timber" survey - Was it one of these "free" jobbies from a damp proofing company ?
    If so, use it to light the fire.

    As for advice - Get yourself a tub or two of lime putty and keep it somewhere frost free. The stuff has oodles of uses around the (old) house. Mix some with finely ground chalk or limestone, and you have a cheap plaster & filler. Mix it with sharp sand, and you have a mortar to repoint the stonework with (don't use it below the DPC though). Finally, mix it with plain water to the consistency of cream, and you have whitewash that is a darn site cheaper than anything from F&B.
    Her courage will change the world.

    Treasure the moments that you have. Savour them for as long as you can for they will never come back again.
  • SG27SG27 Forumite
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    TamsinC wrote: »
    Now living in our newly acquired mid seventeenth century cottage. Second one I've lived in of this age. I LOVE it.

    Join this forum loads of advice

    How its going Tamsin? All good I hope!

    I second joining the forum there, I had some great help with a few things over the years in my 17th century listed cottage. A growing family forced us to leave otherwise we would still be there.
  • AmarnaAmarna Forumite
    10 posts
    Thanks everyone, some great advice and experiences here. :)
    Thanks Tamsin for the period property forum I will definitely take a look.
    Dig for Victory your door story made me LOL :D
    I think the previous owner did paint / plaster over the cracks to sell it, but now I've been here a while they are beginning to show. All by the doors and windows, ceilings and where the walls and ceilings meet. I think I have to get over the paranoia and just monitor them to see if they are serious or not. Most are just hairline cracks.
    The damp and wood survey was done by a company who tanked / injected damp proofing course under one of those 30 year guarantee schemes. It is still covered under the guarantee. I paid for them to come round but will get the money back if they do the work. I waited ages for a report, they still haven't sent one and say they want to send a senior surveyor round to have another look first. Anyone else had experience with companies like these?
    And anyone else's roof keep getting wasps nests?!?
    Thanks again
  • MoneyGeoffMoneyGeoff Forumite
    194 posts
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    Sorry to be pedantic but the phrase is "par for the course" not "part of the course"! It's a golf term.
  • SlitherySlithery Forumite
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    Amarna wrote: »
    The damp and wood survey was done by a company who tanked / injected damp proofing course under one of those 30 year guarantee schemes. It is still covered under the guarantee. I paid for them to come round but will get the money back if they do the work.
    And what did you think that a firm that makes its money selling damp-proof treatments was going to say - that you didn't need any work doing.

    You should always use a proper surveyor that doesn't sell treatments, as the ones that do are well known for suggesting work that at best is a pointless waste of money and at worst can actually cause damp problems.
  • trailingspousetrailingspouse Forumite
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    My first ever house - 300 year old cottage in Devon.

    Since then I've owned a 300 year old house in Northumberland, and I'm currently in an Edwardian town house in Yorkshire.

    Well done for taking the plunge. The trick is to see all these cracks and suchlike as 'character'. There's a fine line between character and bad workmanship, but after a certain age it's definitely character...

    You get used to the sloping floors and the creaking floorboards, doors that don't quite fit (in one house we had a door that would randomly swing open for no apparent reason...) and a slight dampness about the place. And you balance that with the original features and the fact that you're not living in a box surrounded by loads of other people living in the same sort of box.

    I've lived in relatively new houses, but I've never felt an emotional attachment to them the way I have to the older houses I've owned.
  • I lived in a 200 year old cottage for over 20 years.

    It was rented but I never had the need to ask my landlord for any repairs whatsoever regarding the structure or fittings. Apparently there hadn't even been anything done for the 6 years prior to me moving in.

    At the other end of the spectrum; a relative bought a new build which, after 6 months, developed a bowing exterior wall..........says a lot for modern workmanship.

    So, on the basis of that, I'd say these worryingly old cottages are nothing to worry about.
  • pramsay13pramsay13 Forumite
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    Our house was first built sometime between 1829 and 1850 as it appeared in the latter map but not the first.
    It was in the middle of a weavers row of cottages and at some point around 1900 a second storey was added in a totally different style from the ground floor.
    A two-storey rear extention was also added at some point and was never bonded to the original house.
    The houses to one side were all flattened so it is now an end terrace.
    Over the years there has been a bit of movement and settling.
    Nothing in the house is square or flat, we have a bookshelf in one room where one end is propped up around 40mm to keep it level.
    One bathroom is always freezing in the winter.
    We are constantly repairing and fixing but I am quite handy at DIY so this was always going to be part of it.
    The only major imrpovement works have been damp work and a new roof, both of which we knew would need done at some point after buying the house (we managed to wait around 12 years before we did the roof).
    We recently got a new house built in our land and everyone thought we would move into it but there is no way in the world I would live in a new property after living in an older one with way more character.
  • edited 13 October 2018 at 11:36AM
    TamsinCTamsinC Forumite
    625 posts
    edited 13 October 2018 at 11:36AM
    SG27 wrote: »
    How its going Tamsin? All good I hope!

    I second joining the forum there, I had some great help with a few things over the years in my 17th century listed cottage. A growing family forced us to leave otherwise we would still be there.

    Well, we are enjoying the house as only people who love old houses can. Issues are being thrown up left, right and centre but nothing we can't handle. The main problem is stopping my head spinning and working out what we want to throw money at and when.
    a) So chimney was condemned when we had it swept due to shoddy workmanship thirty years ago and a defective clay flue. SO knocking back to original fireplace wall and putting in a woodburner. So, that's one big job we thought we might do next year that might be brought forward as we fancy a fire sometime this year.
    b) The metal twelve foot gate is too heavy for the posts and they have cracked and are failing big time - so new wooden gate in two halves and posts - needed cos otherwise the dog takes herself off for a walk.
    c) I was wondering about double glazing but with advice from the forum have decided against it as the window are fine in themselves - though looking at 'nice' window furniture it will cost over five hundred pounds to replace the lot in the house. So one room a month.
    d) looking at a ground source heat pump but this requires .... e)
    e) lots of trees need felling as the previous owner let them get WAAAY out of control. About twenty very, very tall conifer/cedar/leyandii type trees that need a tree surgeon and another fifty or so hubby can manage himself
    f) discovered a third pond by nearly falling in it it was so covered with over grown bushes - do we want three ponds?
    g) extension? Small ish to extend the kitchen and provide a utility as if we go ground source the utility we have will be used for the ground source equipment - and a lot of our dining room furniture is stuff in a shed as there is no room in the house for it
    h) cleaning the beams in the kitchen - we've already done the living room and the wires now need putting back up and 'hiding' away behind some kind of something - it's that well founded an idea.
    i) getting rid of the santex on the external walls
    j) changing the piddling little ensuite in the master bedroom as you may as well use a chamber pot next to the bed for the amount of privacy it affords.
    k) 'maybe' level the floors upstairs - did look at exposing the old floorboards but maybe too much work.
    l) thinking about extractor fans - but two of the places they are needed may go if we build the extension and one won't need one once we rejig the room
    m) popping in a velux or two
    n) removing cement render from around the chimneys and popping on chimney hats
    o) if we go ground source popping in underfloor heating down stairs as it is more efficient - meaning lifting and relaying the Victorian pamment tiles that are already there - and of course who knows what horrors that may reveal.
    p) reinstating a wall that has been removed to create a third bedroom
    q) replace the tiled window sills inside with oak or slate

    and the list goes on . . . . and on . . . and on, and I'm sure I've forgotten some fairly major stuff - simple decorating isn't even on our radar yet. BUT . . WE STILL LOVE IT - there could be so much more to do but the basic building is sound and dry and warm enough even without any curtains cos the !!!!!!s took them all to their three bed small bungalow where they would never fit.

    OP; we knew almost ALL of this when we bought the house and still took it on - that's what living in an old property entails. It becomes part of the family and you help it to grow into the best it can be and stop it collapsing under the pressure of modern life. And this house doesn't actually need too much doing to it in many respects. It's perfectly liveable in and sailed through it's historical houses survey.

    How's your renovations coming on, SG?
    “Isn't this enough? Just this world? Just this beautiful, complex
    Wonderfully unfathomable, natural world” Tim Minchin
  • Our cottage was built in the 1840s (and it's listed and in a conservation area). it was 'updated' in the seventies/eighties with renders and plasters that then caused all sorts of problems. Old houses need to breathe and move, just like us, and ours was suffocating when we bought it. It was hard work, getting rid of all the modern gunk, but it was so worthwhile. Yes, old houses require love and attention, but we've learned to do most of the maintenance ourselves.

    If you like perfectly flat walls, flawless finishes, straight lines and symmetry, you'll probably not enjoy living in an old building. Also, if you like a house to be silent, you'll not like an old one. Ours talks all day long, and all night too; during last night's storm, it was shouting its head off. Old houses have personality; they're present in your life in a way that modern buildings just aren't. Those cracks that appear and disappear depending on the time of year... we don't think of them as cracks, we think of them as laughter lines.

    We don't have a single level floor. Every piece of furniture has to be 'adjusted' with bits of wood to stop it leaning. Hanging a picture is fun; what do you line it up against, the crooked floor, crooked wall, or the crooked ceiling?

    We're now selling our cottage. When we buy our next home, it will be another lovely old timer.
    Selling up and moving to the seasaw. Mortgage-free by 2020 :)
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