Fix your home - whatever its age

From terraces to cottages, from mansions to maisonettes, the UK has a huge variety of places people call home. Some of us are living in houses built centuries ago, others in freshly-built flats that still smell like new paint. Whatever the age and style of our properties, they can all fall victim to a variety of issues that can require the help of dedicated tradespeople. However, sometimes the problems in our home are directly related to what kind of home it is. We’ve broken down some of the most common problems that various types and period of home have, so you know where to focus your attention.

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Victorian terraces - brickwork, chimneys, roof beams

A common sight in London and across towns and cities around the UK, Victorian terraces are as British as tea and crumpets, with their traditional layouts and beautiful bay windows. As you might expect from some of our oldest housing stock, some of the most common issues in Victorian terraces are simply down to age - especially when it comes to structural elements like brickwork and roof beams, the years can take their toll. A sagging roofline is an easy problem to spot, though not necessarily cheap to fix.However, shoring it up will protect your home for another century to come - a roofer will be able to advise.

When it comes to brickwork, look for places where the mortar is discoloured compared to the rest or comes away in your hands - it may be that a simple repointing job gets it back on track. A bricklayer can take a look and see what needs doing. If there are significant cracks in the brickwork, or walls are bulging, there may be larger problems. All houses shift over time in their foundations - the most common issue with subsidence is trees and drains. Sometimes these issues are mainly cosmetic, but you may need to reinforce some walls with new ceiling or floor joists.

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1930s semis - insulation, old pipework and electrics

The classic suburban stalwart, the 1930s semi-detached, can be found across the country, still going strong, 80 years after having first been built. But the decades haven’t always been kind to these iconic homes, and bringing them up to modern standards is necessary if they haven’t already been brought up to date.

1930s houses can have real issues with insulation, thanks to suspended wooden floors and ground floor cavity walls, which is a common feature of the period. Adding in modern insulation, filling cavity walls or adding underfloor heating for example, can help make your home more energy efficient, more environmentally friendly, and lower your monthly bills.

If your 1930s home hasn’t seen much in the way of serious renovations since it was built, then its key that the electrical wiring and plumbing are updated. Lead piping was still common in the 1930s, which must be swapped out, and electrical standards have changed hugely - it’s vital an electrician inspects everything.

Another period feature which can cause problems is the ceilings - traditional lath and plaster methods were often used at this time, which over the years can become bonded and fail, or fall victim to rot or woodworm, and may need to be replaced by plasterboard. Watch out also for Artex or other wall and ceiling coatings, which can contain asbestos and must be removed safely. These may have been applied during renovations back in the 1960s or 1970s, but should be dealt with as soon as possible.

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1960s and 1970s homes - cladding, central heating

Whether detached or semi-detached, these homes can be found up and down the UK, easily spotted with their uPVC windows, and typically some sort of external cladding, whether plastic or wooden weatherboards, or tiles.

In fact, it’s this cladding that can be one of the key things that needs updating - over time, uPVC cladding can discolour, become weathered and crack, while wooden cladding can rot, and tiles become loose and fall away. Specialists who deal with fascias, soffits and guttering are generally best placed to help with this.

Another part of these homes that can need updating is the central heating - older systems tend to be low pressure and can feel underpowered for modern tastes, so making sure the boiler and radiators are up to standard is vital.

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New builds 1990s to present - decoration, storage

The modern period of homebuilding has often had criticisms for focussing on maximum density, at the expense of space and light - smaller rooms and smaller windows can be a common feature when compared to older properties.

Getting creative with storage solutions can be a way to address this - whether that’s converting understairs space into a useful place to keep things out of the way, or building inbuilt wardrobes into the master bedroom - a carpenter can give bespoke options for these.

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Decoration can also be a sticking point - most homes were built to be as neutral - or some would say, bland - as possible, with simple paint jobs and often cheap carpeting. To personalise your space, you can consider changing up the floor with tiles or wood, and redecorating the walls with new paintwork or paper.

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1 Comment

  1. You haven't included stone built older homes. My home is 200 yrs old and built from granite stone. It has had major issue with damp as the walls were covered with concrete render so it couldn't breathe and its difficult to find builders who understand the need for lime mortar.

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