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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
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  • phoebe1989sebphoebe1989seb Forumite
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    Our current (stone) cottage is at least 400 years old, but is rumoured to have Roman origins. It's needed loads of work partly because it was bought as a repossession and the previous two sets of owners did very many unsympathetic works attempting to 'modernise' it which we've been gradually undoing over the past eight months ;)

    Previously we've owned a thatched, stone Georgian house and a Tudor house that had been dismantled and rebuilt in a different location during the 1930s. Our last house was built in 1853 and extended in Arts & Crafts style in the 1920s. That was in a Conservation Area with an Article 4 direction but none of the others have been listed. The 'newest' house we've owned was late Victorian, built in 1888.

    They've all come with their own set of problems, but imho the rewards of restoring and living in such interesting homes has far outweighed any negatives!
    :j Mortgage-free for twelve years! :j

    :T Over £40,000 mis-sold PPI reclaimed :T
  • FreeBearFreeBear Forumite
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    Slithery wrote: »
    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.

    The OP needs to have a look at https://www.heritage-house.org/damp-and-condensation/about-condensation.html and have a read up on the damage that these "damp treatments" do.
    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.
  • Nebulous2Nebulous2 Forumite
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    We've recently bought a 270 year old Georgian house. In an area where there are a lot of them, all listed and they dont fetch anything like as much as modern bungalows in the same town.


    It was refurbished in 1960 and again in 1986. We were led to believe that the roof had been replaced in 1986, it had no access and we accepted that. On opening up a hole in the ceiling with the intention of putting in a hatch we discovered it is probably original. Beams are whole and half trunks, planking is flat on inside and rounded on outside and they are marked with roman numerals by chisel, which apparently means pre-1820. It looks like the ceiling was replaced and not the roof.



    We've no idea what is behind the walls. We're failrly sure fireplaces were simply boxed in rather than removed. There is also an arch, which is one of the main reasons for the listing. It was a fireplace shared between our house and another building to the rear, since demolished. It has been closed up, rather nicely with a wooden feature and windows, through to a 1960s extension which houses the kitchen, but I'd like to open it up and expose the stonework. That will depend on it being in good condition - if the stonework is crumbling it would be better left as it is.



    Sorry - a long rambling post, but the point is we stay in a modern 1990s semi, which is worth a lot of money, is easy to heat and has been low-maintenance. We've also taken on a project which will be a money pit, will have character by the bucket load, but is much cheaper.



    You pay your money and make your choice, as the saying goes.
  • SG27SG27 Forumite
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    TamsinC wrote: »
    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?

    Oh wow! It actually sounds like a great project.
    i) getting rid of the santex on the external walls
    except this! Sounds like a hellish job!

    Ours is going well I think, first fix electrics done, re plumbing underway and plasterers booked in to start next week. Windows and doors also being done. It does make me panic a bit though when the plumber keeps using phrases like "corr you're going to be doing some money on this" and "on such a major renovation as this...) :o its a big learning curve for us though and we are enjoying it so far.

    I do have to admit though it is quite refreshing to be doing a "standard" house without its unique quirks and hundreds of year old bodges. Plus I won't miss limewashing and lime putty! Make sure you wear gloves and goggles when using it!
  • FreeBearFreeBear Forumite
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    One nice thing with lime plaster is that you can mix pigments in - Saves on painting the walls ever again. With the application of various soaps & waxes, it can be buffed up a really nice shine and even used around a shower/bath.

    Venetian_Plaster_15.jpg

    ALK1641.jpeg
    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.
  • AmarnaAmarna Forumite
    10 posts
    Freebear- for some reason the forum won't let me quote you, but that link re damp and condensation was VERY informative. Not one person I have spoken to has given me this information and in fact i may get in touch with them.
    It could well be that the damp work that has been done in the past has made the issue worse and not better then?
    I have never seen anything like those photos above, I had no idea and they look amazing!
    I have a lot to learn no doubt! But I have been inspired and motivated by peoples stories on here. I have never liked new builds, so as daunting as this is, I have to see it as a journey and enjoy it. :)
  • FreeBearFreeBear Forumite
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    Amarna wrote: »
    It could well be that the damp work that has been done in the past has made the issue worse and not better then?
    I have never seen anything like those photos above, I had no idea and they look amazing!

    I have heard countless stories of "damp proofing" work being carried out only for it to be repeated again 10 or 15 years later. Rather than fixing the root cause, slapping a bit of waterproof cement on and injecting fancy chemicals in to the brickwork is much more profitable for these companies.

    I myself had a damp patch on the kitchen wall. It has always been a problem, and undoubtedly, would have had these "experts" try to sell me £x,000 of fixes. During the summer. I removed a few bricks from the outside, primarily to install an air brick to improve underfloor ventilation. What I discovered, was a cavity filled with building debris along with a large quantity of damp sand - Much of this appeared to date from when the house was originally built. The wall is now slowly drying out, and I don't expect it to cause any further problems. Total bill, including the air brick, around £30 - Half of that was for a bag of NHL3.5 lime, of which, I used less than a quarter.

    If you want to see what can be done with lime plasters, look at some of the videos & sites that do Venetian plaster or Tadelakt. Some of it is quite stunning.

    Maybe, one day, I'll post a couple of pictures of my kitchen - A pale yellow finish that is yet to be buffed to a high shine.
    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.
  • stuart45stuart45 Forumite
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    Quite a few cavity walls are likely to have debris above the DPC. I have worked with bricklayers who used to dump a few trowels of mortar down the cavity at the end of the day to use it up quicker so they could go home. Nowadays the concrete needs to finish 225mm below DPC, but when it was only 150mm there was more chance of it getting above DPC at the end of the job.
    Another thing that can fill up the cavity is when render is hammered off the walls,and any snots may fall off the back of the wall and down the cavity.
  • edited 13 October 2018 at 11:17PM
    StumpyPumpyStumpyPumpy Forumite
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    edited 13 October 2018 at 11:17PM
    Previously we've owned a thatched, stone Georgian house and a Tudor house that had been dismantled and rebuilt in a different location during the 1930s. Our last house was built in 1853 and extended in Arts & Crafts style in the 1920s. That was in a Conservation Area with an Article 4 direction but none of the others have been listed. The 'newest' house we've owned was late Victorian, built in 1888.
    That cannot be correct.
    According Historic England (the public body that looks after the list)
    All buildings built before 1700 which survive in anything like their original condition are listed, as are most of those built between 1700 and 1840.
    So your Tudor house must have been on the Statutory List unless it had been altered so much as to be nothing like a Tudor house or it wasn't a Tudor house at all. Are you sure you weren't spun some yarn about it when you bought it? Houses often come with a history which as been "embellished" to the point of legend.

    In the 1930's Tudor Revival architecture was very popular; it was actually a follow-on to the Arts and Crafts style and tended toward either the black and white half timbered look or the mythical "country cottage" with steep pitched, red tiled roofs (often with tiled dormer windows sticking out of them) and decorated with herringbone brick or rendered brick infills rather than actually having the timber framing bearing the load of the house. The cottages were actually more Jacobean than Tudor, but the Tudor name seemed to stick better for some reason. You only have to look at a 1930's housing estate to see any number of black and white half timbered buildings and twee cottages, looking for all the world like a Price Kensington Cottage Ware Tea Set, to see how fashionable the style was.

    You say it was dismantled and rebuilt, did you ever have any documentary evidence of this? If that was how it came about and it wasn't a revival house it would be interesting to know where it was originally located and who dismantled it: they must have been extremely wealthy to do so rather than just build a facsimile especially as that was all the rage at the time so there were plenty of people who could do it. There would be records of it happening somewhere, as relocating a building was very rare in the 1930's. There could possibly be a Pathe news reel about it! Did you ever check with your Local History Society about it? It must have been a very impressive building to be worth all the effort.

    If you still have the details I'd love to see them and have a bit of a dig around to see what else turns up, I'm usually pretty good at getting to the bottom of things like this, because if it is Tudor and not "officially" on the list, then the current owner could still be bound by listed building consent without actually knowing it and that could bring about a whole world of trouble.

    SP
    Come on people, it's not difficult: lose means to be unable to find, loose means not being fixed in place. So if you have a hole in your pocket you might lose your loose change.
  • FreeBearFreeBear Forumite
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    That cannot be correct.
    According Historic England (the public body that looks after the list) So your Tudor house must have been on the Statutory List unless it had been altered so much as to be nothing like a Tudor house or it wasn't a Tudor house at all. Are you sure you weren't spun some yarn about it when you bought it? Houses often come with a history which as been "embellished" to the point of legend.

    Not completely unbelievable. May Savidge dismantled her 1450s home and moved it to a new site in Wells-next-the-Sea. She never managed to finish the rebuild, but her niece-in-law eventually completed the task. https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/ware-hall-house-skb

    After WWI and WWII, councils across the country cared little for many historic buildings and engaged in widespread "slum clearances". Whilst some of these areas were indeed slums, other areas contained buildings of interest. Elm Hill in Norwich was one such area listed for clearance in 1926 and was only saved by the hard work of a few with foresight. If the area had been flattened, it is possible that one or two buildings might have been moved in order to save them.
    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.
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