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Hilary1
04-03-2014, 12:22 PM
In one of my WIPs, the MC is in England. Obviously I don't want to describe the house too much, but drop in details throughout.

I've never been to England (I'm American), so any insight would be appreciated on the typical features of English homes.

waylander
04-03-2014, 12:24 PM
Where in England?
How well off is the family?

cornflake
04-03-2014, 12:26 PM
Also, when is this set?

Akragth
04-03-2014, 12:33 PM
That's a really broad question, like anywhere else in the world they vary hugely.

They vary a lot even within the same town, and can vary even more from town to town. Housing in certain area may still be old, Victorian era, whilst housing in another area of the same town might be ultramodern. Who, where and when are key to the answer.

Netz
04-03-2014, 12:34 PM
Typical features: walls, windows, doors, rooms, roof. ;) Possibly a chimney.

Is the home in a city, town, village or hamlet? If it's modern day, would your character be the sort to live in a modern house or would they prefer a period home?

AVS
04-03-2014, 12:38 PM
Have a look at a UK property website. There is a great deal of variety.

Hilary1
04-03-2014, 12:39 PM
Where in England?
How well off is the family?

It'd be in a small town, and the family would be of average wealth.


If it's modern day, would your character be the sort to live in a modern house or would they prefer a period home?

I'm thinking of it as more of a period home rather than modern.


Also, when is this set?

Modern day.

usuallycountingbats
04-03-2014, 12:41 PM
Have a look through here: http://www.rightmove.co.uk/

Be aware that the type of house you pick will tell English readers a lot about your character/their background. For example Council Housing/ex-Council housing is pretty much instantly recognisable to people, and certain styles/building materials very much reflect the area of the country you're in.

usuallycountingbats
04-03-2014, 12:43 PM
It'd be in a small town, and the family would be of average wealth.

Define average. Average wealth where I live would only buy you a one or two bed period property. In a different part of the country, you'd get a 4 bed for the same price.


I'm thinking of it as more of a period home rather than modern.
What do you see when you visualise a period property? There are a lot to choose from, and they can be fairly area specific.

Hilary1
04-03-2014, 12:43 PM
For example Council Housing/ex-Council housing is pretty much instantly recognisable to people.

What would be 'recognisable' features of council housing?

Helix
04-03-2014, 12:45 PM
You might need to narrow it down further. Where in England? What period?

It might be worth picking a few areas and having a look on Google Street view to get an idea of exactly where you want to locate your house.

Akragth
04-03-2014, 12:48 PM
What would be 'recognisable' features of council housing?

They're often Victorian era terraces, or semi detached.

For instance:

http://i61.tinypic.com/2cz3a0w.jpg

or

http://i58.tinypic.com/2ivi2wh.jpg

But, to forewarn, places like this are generally considered 'poor' areas (not always true, though). Council housing is cheaper to rent than homes owned privately, but a family with an average income may well live somewhere slightly more upmarket.

You're not particularly likely to finding housing like this in more rural areas, either, they're usually found in inner-mid city or in medium-large towns.

The interiors usually, as you can imagine, change from house to house.

Hilary1
04-03-2014, 12:48 PM
What do you see when you visualise a period property? There are a lot to choose from, and they can be fairly area specific.

I really like the Victorian era style of house, so maybe something like that?

mirandashell
04-03-2014, 12:49 PM
Street View is a great idea.

England is an old country and the housing really does depend on the history of the area. So where is your MC?

ETA: Just saw your last post. It's going to be important to know where your MC is. A lot of the large cities that had Victorian housing lost a lot of it through bombing in WW2. And then, Victorian housing varies a lot depending on what class the original owners and/or tenants were.

Hilary1
04-03-2014, 12:53 PM
So where is your MC?

I imagine my MC to live in a small town. I'm not too sure on specifics though. I'll post in detail after some more Street View searching.

usuallycountingbats
04-03-2014, 12:53 PM
What would be 'recognisable' features of council housing?

So the houses look very uniform and are all of a similar period. It's the proportions I guess, and the layout.

They'll all have the same windows (although if they have been privately bought these might be updated), and generally they were built in/around the sixties. Often semi-detached.

I'm ignoring council flats by the way, since you said small town and by and large the council flats were built in cities.

If you do a google image search for semi-detached council housing uk, you can instantly see the similarities between them - they all come from the same stamp!

Hilary1
04-03-2014, 12:56 PM
If you do a google image search for semi-detached council housing uk, you can instantly see the similarities between them - they all come from the same stamp!

That's the sort of thing I'm looking for.

usuallycountingbats
04-03-2014, 12:58 PM
Also, what are you thinking of as a 'small' town? That will lead to a lot of variation too. For example, a lot of Victorian terracing was built as housing for the workers, so you'd need an area which had some kind of industry, at least historically.

mirandashell
04-03-2014, 01:00 PM
I imagine my MC to live in a small town. I'm not too sure on specifics though. I'll post in detail after some more Street View searching.


What sort of small town? A small town on the coast? A small town in a rural/agricultural setting? A small town west or north in a coal-mining area?
A small town that used to have a mill? A small town built by a Victorian entrepreneur? A small town that's mentioned in the Domesday Book?

Old Hack
04-03-2014, 01:01 PM
So much depends on where they live.

In London, for example, there are areas where houses are built of predominantly red brick, like Haringey; other areas where they're made of a yellower brick, like Holloway; in some places they're mostly built of Portland stone, in South Kensington there's a lot of white-fronted houses.

In Sheffield there are Victorian red-brick terraces, but there are also a lot of houses built from local gritstone, like mine. The pointing (the mortar between the bricks) is usually finished off so it's gently concave.

North from here the houses have church pointing, which is finished off with a protruding, angled edge.

A house that a reasonably affluent middle-class family could afford in Sheffield is going to have four bedrooms, perhaps more, a front and back garden, and be on a quiet residential street. That same family would struggle to buy a two-up, two down terraced house in the suburbs of North London, and wouldn't have a hope of living in the centre of town.

If a house is relatively modern (built within the last 150 years or so) then chances are it will have been extensively changed since it was built; if it's perhaps 400 years old, it's more likely to be listed and retain original features, such as beams, fireplaces, low doorways, original windows.

My sister lived in a listed building for several years: there was a wall upstairs which she was not allowed to paint, as it was original horsehair lime plaster from when the house was built. She wasn't allowed to alter the layout of the house at all.

So yep, you're going to have to decide precisely where in the country your characters live, and where they fit into the social strata, and then you'll be able to do some research into the sorts of houses they might live in and how they would live.

It's really important to get this right. Your whole book will ring false if you don't.

usuallycountingbats
04-03-2014, 01:04 PM
That's the sort of thing I'm looking for.

Unlikely to be period and unlikely to be indicative of 'averagely wealthy'! Sorry!

The people I know who live in ex-council housing are all, without exception, first time buyers, who are all of what you'd consider to be above average incomes. Partly that's down to the area of the country I live in, where property is expensive. People then tend to 'trade up' - at least the people I know do. The other people who own them are tenants who bought them under the right to buy scheme, and they tend to be below average income.

People who don't own them, live in them because they are in receipt of housing benefit of some kind, so are below-average.

usuallycountingbats
04-03-2014, 01:07 PM
It's really important to get this right. Your whole book will ring false if you don't.

This is so true. It's a bit like the characters from Friends having amazing apartments in NYC whilst being part time actors and coffee house workers - it's a nice fantasy but we all know it wasn't anywhere close to the truth!

Bolero
04-03-2014, 01:12 PM
What would be 'recognisable' features of council housing?

Good room sizes usually in the older ones - up to early '80s. Often quite a cheap finish - as in rendered and the render not painted.

Compared to commercial housing estates of the same age, the council houses tend to be larger, plainer and with a bigger garden compared to the commercial one. There is also usually a standard room layout, that anyone knowing the area would recognise - but that gets altered in owner occupied ones.

Council house estates vary a lot - and since the right to buy scheme came in about 20 years back they vary within estates. Council tenants bought their own house and sometimes have sold them on. So the older the estate, the more people who have sold on, the bigger the variety in terms of how the double glazing has changed, extensions, gardens etc.

Do not assume that all council owned council houses are "run down" - they're not. Sometimes even its the owner occupied ones that look tatty compared to the council ones.
There will be a standard council paint colour - and all council house front doors will be the same colour. Or they were until recently. Now some councils are not sending out painting crews but are instead handing vouchers to their tenants and the tenants are going down DIY stores and picking their own paint.

Most council houses are three bed - not all but most - planned for the classic couple with two or three kids. They won't be detached. They will be either semi-detached or terraced. Most of the council house building was done in the 1950 to 1970s - to start with it was re-building after the bombings in WW2. But there are a few rare cases of pre-war council housing and that can be prettier, especially in a rural area - and in a rural area they might have 60 to 70 or even 100 feet long rear gardens. In fact some post-war council houses can have rear gardens up to 100 feet long - though usually about 50 feet. The theory, and practice, at the time they were built, is that the occupiers would be growing a lot of their own food - so it would have probably had a chicken run plus lots and lots of vegetable patches and fruit trees and maybe a tiny lawn. These days, some such gardens would be rough grass, probably with a chain link fence round it, or mown grass with kiddies toys. Far fewer people grow their own veg. Not impossible to have gardens neat and productive, just less common.

In fact, concrete posts and chain link fences waist high around a property are suggestive of a council house, or former council house. Not a guarantee but suggestive.

Also - most council houses wouldn't have a drive or garage (again not impossible) but they were built in an era when it was less common to own a car, and council tenants were unlikely to have afforded one. Newer council estates mostly have parking areas, sometimes allocated, sometimes not - and the garages tend to be built in blocks rather than next to the house.

They can be a very good buy, ex-council houses, because of the room sizes, the size of the garden and often the road is a more generous width than in a commercial estate.

And finally - some council estates can be non-standard construction - the walls being made of horizontal concrete panels bolted together for example. Those are usually not mortgageable - though they can be rebuilt - the roof held up on scaffolding and blockwork walls built up to meet the roof.

And another thought. The size of the estate can vary a lot - anything from dozen of roads and side turnings, to two or three roads, to half a dozen houses up a cul-de-sac - depends on what plots of land the council could buy. Most estates will include a block of flats as well as houses. Some will also have retirement bungalows which are usually in a terraced or semi-detached, but with a small bungalow you just might get detached. So you could have a side road off a main road with say 10 semi detached houses with bigger gardens on one side, and the garage block plus 10 semi-detached retirement bungalows in smaller gardens facing them.
Some council estates have play areas, some don't. If they do have play areas, nearly all the play equipment will have been removed for safety reasons. Slides and swings are dangerous.....

Oh and as you may have noticed from this thread, quite a lot of UK folks like talking about houses - as well as the weather. :) There are a lot of TV programmes about buying houses, doing up houses and also building your dream house. (Property Ladder, Grand Designs for the latter two.)

waylander
04-03-2014, 01:14 PM
Latest average house prices in UK broken up by region
http://www.landregistry.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/76117/HPIReport20140224.pdf

Corussa
04-03-2014, 01:49 PM
I don't know if I'm just adding to the mass of house-related data for you to process, but just a few points I'd offer:

1) Apparently people in the UK have the smallest houses in Europe - on average, 76 sq metres. (I learned this fact from watching QI - yay for that.) So the room sizes might seem poky by the MC's standards - depending on what he/she is used to at home, of course!

2) Just a random note, but some houses (e.g. my uni houses in Birmingham, on Dawlish Road, Exeter Road, etc.) might have a bathroom on the ground floor, accessed through the back by walking through the kitchen (they might have a second bathroom on the first floor as well). But depending on the wealth of the house owner in your story, they might live somewhere more upmarket anyway.

3) My brother lives in a Victorian terraced house - very nice, with high ceilings, but the heating system is fairly, er, antique - and somewhat noisy and inefficient as a result!

Hope those details may help a little. :)

Mr Flibble
04-03-2014, 02:04 PM
Yeah, many of the smaller Victorian houses (like mine) did not have bathrooms when they were built, so they've been added later, either by building out from the back of the kitchen or converting a bedroom. And Victorian houseing goes from "two-up, two-down" with two bedrooms upstairs, a front room, dining room and small kitchen down (plus added bathroom these days) especially common in larger cities, where they built basically slums for the workers, to bloody great five bedroom mansions.

From this (http://s0.geograph.org.uk/geophotos/01/20/75/1207591_7892fa88.jpg) in effect, to this (https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/content/images/other-buildings-and-locations/bletchley/bletchley-mansion-from-east) and everything in-between.

For instance I live in a smaller Victorian semi -- probably originally built for the not-quite-so-poor-as-all-that, but not exactly well off either. The third bedroom comes off the second (no corridor upstairs), and it's only not a terrace because it has delusions of grandeur :D On this side of my town, there's buckets of them, from terraced smaller ones to four bedroom larger ones, all built to house the influx of people into towns after the industrial revolution. Gardens range from just enough to keep a few chickens to enough to house a couple of pigs as well as grow your own veg, as that was what they were actually for. The other side of town (and it's a feature of many towns) is the estates built in the thirties/post war (I say this not because I'm sure of the date -- all I know is my Dad recalls them being built when he were a nipper, and he was born in the early thirties). These are also extremely recognisable. They look like this (http://li.zoocdn.com/e45412fab188e3be534ba6f45e99646b9d5bf0e6_645_430.j pg). You'd be bloody lucky to own one of them around here on an average income -- unless you got on the property ladder at the right time (we were lucky). You're more likely to end up in the modern estates. That look like this (http://li.zoocdn.com/d1ce2ab23c13ab21f0dade51470c7d320fab6bfa_645_430.j pg)

Around here (and in many places I've noted) the dead give-away for a council house is the concrete slab over the door as a kind of poor man's "porch" (ably illustrated here (https://environment7.uwe.ac.uk/resources/constructionsample/Conweb/house_ages/Council%20house,%20Lockleaze%20estate.jpg)) If they've later been bought privately, that may change, and some private built houses have a more upmarket version, but a row of houses with those? Council. More modern council houses don't usually have them (or not as often) but the vast swathes of seventies style ones are recognisable instantly.

Polenth
04-03-2014, 02:55 PM
Ten notable differences from my house/houses on my estate and the homes of American friends:

1) We don't usually have closets - as in part of a room that's had doors added to it to make a storage space. Clothes and stuff usually go in wardrobes - as in a wooden box with doors.

2) Our houses are usually smaller for the same wealth level.

3) Open plan designs are less common in the UK, so most kitchens and living rooms will be seperate rooms, rather than one big room with areas.

4) Building a house from wood is a little unusual - you'll find more brick homes, and in areas with quarries, a lot of stone homes.

5) As a result, the American thing of putting fake stone clading on wooden walls is a bit hilarious.

6) The ceilings tend to be lower on average, which also means the houses are easier to keep warm. May not be true of very old homes.

7) Air conditioning units are relatively uncommon. People just open the windows in summer and complain a lot.

8) Strict rules about grass length and the like are less common. Maybe in some of the very posh places, but not on a council estate. Our estate is more, "Don't put burnt-out cars in your garden."

9) Fewer basements. But most homes have an attic / loft, which may be done up as an extra room sometimes.

10) Differences in kitchen setup. There's less space, so washing machines usually have to go under a counter... hence front-loaded ones with a drum are more common than top-loaded. Fridges tend to be smaller and white - you're less likely to see the big stainless steel ones with water/ice dispensers on the front (side note: this also means we don't have 'fridge packs' of fizzy drinks, because they wouldn't fit - they're sold it stockier boxes). Waste disposal units aren't as common.

And bonus attitude difference: People signing up for council houses generally hope to be placed on the newest estates. Americans often view old houses as these wonderful things, but the UK has a lot of them, and many aren't great. The one I lived in as a baby was an old Victorian house split into flats for poor people. I wouldn't go back. So there's a difference in social attitude here. A big fancy old house... sure. That's posh. But being old doesn't indicate that it's in that category.

A UK house might have the reverse of all of these. It could be old with air conditioning, a giant American fridge, closets everywhere, a basement and an open-plan design. But that's less likely.

waylander
04-03-2014, 03:27 PM
Most older houses would have an open fireplace and chimney - many are blocked up now but still exist behind concealment.

shaldna
04-03-2014, 03:55 PM
one thing to note is that timber houses fell out of fashion for a long time, and anything built between 1950 and about 2000 is likely to be brick with a concrete floor. Timber frames have recently become more popular again thanks to their eco-friendly status compared with brick.

shaldna
04-03-2014, 03:57 PM
Most older houses would have an open fireplace and chimney - many are blocked up now but still exist behind concealment.

the house I live in now is an early 1970's terrace. The previous tenants did a lot of updating, including removing the open fire and blocking it up. However I had some issues with it because it wasn't properly sealed and during a particularly stormy week over winter a lot of water built up behind the new wall. :(

Bolero
04-03-2014, 04:53 PM
The picture of a terraced house in Mr Flibble's post - my immediate reaction was "that's a wide one". :) They come a lot narrower. Can be a bit dark and "tunnel" at times, but the rooms are bigger than the ones in modern estate terraced houses - which in any given area would cost more than a Victorian one.

A lot of the smaller Victorian terraced houses have stairs that go across the middle of the house - no landing, part way - just straight up and they are steep. If you slip and loose your balance coming down, you're airborne even if you fell backwards. (Been there, done that - big bruise.)

Noise. Don't know what sound proofing and wall thickness is in similar looking US houses, but in Victorian terraces you can hear next door. Not necessarily make out the words, but if voices get at all raised, you hear them. One place I lived, next door had a posh chiming clock that really penetrated the wall - and it was 12 minutes fast and they never fixed it.

Due to both the climate and the building type, Victorian terraces can be damp - there is no cavity in the wall and no damp course. Damp courses are retro-fitted by chemical injection. Once double glazing has been fitted, and drafts eliminated, best to buy a dehumidifier. Tends to condensation if you don't and black mildew in corners and behind a sofa if you stick it next to the wall.

Under stairs cupboard - lots of older houses have those. Modern houses tend to be more open under the stairs, even have open tread stairs.

Cooking smells sometimes penetrate from next door if there is an underfloor gap, or a pipe coming through or something like that.

Usually a shower over the bath. Can be mixer tap on the bath, electric shower, or both. More upmarket to have separate shower and bath. Having shower and toilet and no bath is a bit bottom end.

Do get built in wardrobes - but as said above, most definitely not a walk in closet. Some older houses may have a walk in larder, but most tend to be knocked into the kitchen.

Cat flaps - most cats in the UK get to take themselves out for a walk and houses with cats often (but not always) have a cat flap cut in the door. Exceptions would be in a block of flats with internal front door, and sometimes not near a busy road. Varies with the owner.

If there is a big football match - as in England reaches the semi-finals, or finals of the World cup, then in some areas you'd have the cross of St George flag hanging out of some windows, being trailed from cars, people walking around in England football shirts.

Ice cream vans come round estates and play their chimes.

Depending on councils, weekly or every other weekly recycling and bin collections. (Separate vans). Depending on council there may be green and black wheelie bins, small coloured woven sacks for recycling and provide your own black plastic sack for rubbish. Put out on the kerb side on bin day.

Milk deliveries - still happen in some areas - bottles left on the doorstep. Last few years all the major stores have started delivering food to the door from internet orders. (Milk deliveries are totally separate from that - could be a big firm like Unigate or a local farmer.)

Street lights are mostly orange. Rural areas usually don't have street lights. School buses are not yellow. :) Usually a private company's bus hired for the two times of the school run.
Your dog poops in the street, these days "poop and scoop" is practised. Varies - bins with scoops, bring your own plastic bags.

Varying levels of rubbish bins in public places. After the IRA used them a lot for planting bombs they were pretty much discontinued, but have been making a come-back for the last few years.

Oh - and reading a book by Edward Hall (I think it was him) there was a comment that in the USA it is usual practice for neighbours to lend each other tools - lawnmowers etc - even if they don't know each other well. In the UK you'd have to be really friendly with your neighbour to ask to borrow anything. More usual in rural districts. In town estates it can take months to learn your neighbours name.

The whole "hi I'm your neighbour, here's some cookies/muffins" - never done it, never known it to happen. In the rural area where I live people did come by and knock on the door in the first couple of days, say who they were, say "if you need any help", say "come down for a cup of tea" - but no basket of muffins being handed over as in Desperate Housewives.

Mr Flibble
04-03-2014, 05:04 PM
Lol it was the best picture I could find at the time!

Here's a nice (http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2013/03/01/article-2286805-185F6FD2000005DC-273_634x498.jpg)narrow one.

I saw my first milk float in years the other day. Convenience stores have really taken their toll -- besides, our local milkie never used to turn up till 11am, which is a bit late! Not a surprise when he went out of business tbh.



The whole "hi I'm your neighbour, here's some cookies/muffins" - never done it, never known it to happen. In the rural area where I live people did come by and knock on the door in the first couple of days, say who they were, say "if you need any help", say "come down for a cup of tea" - but no basket of muffins being handed over as in Desperate Housewives.

No muffins but people do tend to intro themselves here, in an over the fence kind of way. As for borrowing stuff -- yeees. Less so in towns, but where I grew up in t'country it was pretty common. Then again, I grew up in a village where I'm related to everyone. Sometimes three separate ways.

Bolero
04-03-2014, 05:18 PM
Yup, that's narrow.

Some can have front gardens and bay windows btw - terraced houses in general. Depends on the area.

Milk float - its electric and has a very characteristic hum. Milk can also be delivered by open sided van - ours comes that way from the farmer's dairy. Where we live no way would an electric milk float make it there. And milk floats travel at about 10 miles an hour.

Milk always used to be in glass bottles with foil top, and you put out the empties for the milkman to collect. Now its plastic bottles and you rinse them out and put them out for the recycling.

And not in the least bit contemporary - anyone here seen
a) A rag and bone man
b) Sent sheets out to a laundry and had them delivered (or your mother did. :) )
c) Bought cleaning things from the Kleen-eze door to door salesman. (or your mother did. :) )

Mr Flibble
04-03-2014, 05:28 PM
I get a Kleen-eze catalogue through my door quite often, so that's still going though they don't come to your doorstep with a suitcase any more.

Rag and bone man? Not for years! Nor tinkers sharpening knives door to door either though they used to be regular (as was the bread van that used to come around the villages). And I only know one person who ever sent out to a laundry, and she was very posh (her dad was a lord). I'm not sure it was ever usual among the lower classes. My Gran had a big old copper out the back she used to boil her sheets in.

Bolero
04-03-2014, 05:43 PM
We did both. But we had two elderly relatives living with us and there was a lot of laundry. Mother definitely also boiled sheets, father's hankies and the flannels.We had an electric boiler that was separate from the washing machine. Flannels and hankies were done in a saucepan on the cooker (there was one particular saucepan kept for that) - smell of boiling flannels - bleh. I remember the shirts went out to the laundry but that stopped because they didn't get the collars clean enough. That turned into a "kids job" - scrubbing the collars with soap and water on the draining board before they went in the washing machine.
I'd say we were poorer end of middle class. One professional income, owned house but not exactly rolling in money. Lots and lots of lessons in budgeting and economy.
Scrape the butter off the butter paper, then use butter paper for lining cake tins. Menu was roast on Sunday, re-heat on Monday, cold meat from roast with salad on Tuesday, curry with last of cold meat on Wednesday, lentil stew from boiled up bones from the roast on Thursday, something else on Friday and Saturday - bacon and eggs, tinned soup, kippers, sweet and sour pork or spaghetti with tomato sauce made from tinned tomatoes and served with grated cheddar - no self respecting Chinese or Italian person would have recognised them as Chinese or Italian food I suspect. Same with the "curry".

mirandashell
04-03-2014, 06:02 PM
We've got a rag and bone man of sorts but he only takes metal. Haven't seen a milk float in years. And I've never heard of anyone working-class sending their laundry out to be cleaned. You do it yourself. Thank god someone invented the automatic washing machine!

jaksen
04-03-2014, 06:29 PM
One thing I have noticed from watching many shows 'set' in England:

They have doors at almost every room in the main living area of the house. Whereas in the US, most houses, even older ones, either are built without doors, or the doors have been removed. (And the current trend in the US is for 'openness.' One huge room that flows from kitchen to family room to living and dining, etc.)

In an English home, along a central hall there would be: a door into the kitchen, a door into living room or front room, a door into the dining room, etc. (Of course there are doors on the bathrooms and bedrooms. That's fairly standard.) I had heard the reason for this was due to the lack of central heating in many English homes.

Correct me, those who know better. But my sister-in-law, who lived for many years in England, said the doors contained the heat in whatever room the family was using.

mirandashell
04-03-2014, 06:34 PM
That's correct. Central heating hasn't been around for very long and the vast majority of houses built before 1980 have doors on all the rooms. In fact, in this country having an open plan house is considered posh. It means you can afford the horrendous cost of heating a massive space.

Mr Flibble
04-03-2014, 06:35 PM
Maybe originally it was due to lack of central heating -- we have that now :D But yes, older houses tend to be draughty so doors are good, though many people take them out and knock through walls etc to get a bit more open plan. More modern houses will be likely to be more open plan also (though not always).


It means you can afford the horrendous cost of heating a massive space

Yup.

Bolero
04-03-2014, 07:17 PM
I remember my mother commenting that at the end of WW2 roughly, an American family moved in next door to them - in the UK. It was summer and the first thing they did was take out all the internal doors.
All the locals thought that was rather funny and yup, first winter, they put them all back in again.

I wouldn't want a house where the staircase leads out of the downstairs room - all the heat goes upstairs. Also I want to shut the door on the kitchen and keep in the smells. Some modern houses do have one or two downstairs rooms - so you step into the living room from the front door and the staircase goes out of the room. Either archway or door to kitchen. It makes it seem more spacious and is lighter than having front door into hall and stairs and doors off.

There was a fashion for posh open plan houses - late 70s I think - but it didn't last very long. (Cheaper houses were being built with separate rooms and doors at the time.) I once went round a not only open plan but split level one, terraced up a hillside.

The thing about the UK is it is damp. The temperatures may stay above freezing some winters, at least in the south and the west - but it still feels raw. The damp makes a big difference. But yes, in the main, the practice is to have doors, and only heat one room at a time - or if the kids are doing homework in their bedrooms, then their bedrooms might be heated for the evening too. Fuel prices - including tax - are a lot higher here than US (I think - certainly used to be).
You can have individual thermostats on radiators and time things carefully, so the downstairs living room is heated for when you come in from work, and then the bedrooms are heated later in the evening (but to a lower temperature) just before you go to bed.
Unless you are like OH and I, who like a cold bedroom and would only heat it if the temperature outside drops below freezing. Most nights, including winter, we sleep with the window open. We are well out into rural area, no mains gas for miles (actually tens of miles) and to have central heating it would be tanks of oil or propane, or a coal fired boiler. The house does have old fashioned night storage heaters - they are electric. They have blocks of special bricks in them. They are heated by electric elements overnight on a cheap tariff (there being a surplus of electricity at night most of the year) and release heat during the day. Modern ones are better, with more controls, but the older sort are cold by evening. So house is toasty warm while you're at work and a bit chilly by the time you come in. Having looked at all our options we went with a multi-fuel stove in the lounge and that is the only room we heat (for most of most winters). We keep the door very firmly shut.

Incidentally an American friend I had once (lost contact a while back) used to leave the TV on all the time. Even when not watching it and you were there to socialise and chat. Drove me nuts as I found it hard to hear the conversation over the TV. When I wanted to turn it off (and no-one was really watching it) friend said no, it was part of his culture to have the TV on all the time. Anyone?

ULTRAGOTHA
04-03-2014, 07:17 PM
2) Just a random note, but some houses (e.g. my uni houses in Birmingham, on Dawlish Road, Exeter Road, etc.) might have a bathroom on the ground floor, accessed through the back by walking through the kitchen (they might have a second bathroom on the first floor as well). But depending on the wealth of the house owner in your story, they might live somewhere more upmarket anyway.

I donít know how much the OP knows about Britishisms and translating English into American; but my experience with many British houses is that what you lot call a bathroom rarely exists in the US. In the US, a ďbathroomĒ is a room with a bath (and usually a shower built into the bath), sink and toilet. In the UK, a bathroom is often a room with a bath and sometimes a sink. Thereís a separate room with a toilet calledÖthe toilet.

My sister-in-lawís posh house in Florida that was very recently built actually has separate rooms with toilets but thatís a shocking and recent and ostentatious way to build oneís house. ;)

Also, in case itís not obvious from Corussaís content, what we call the first floor is the ground floor in Britain. What they call the first floor is the second floor in the US.



10) Differences in kitchen setup. There's less space, so washing machines usually have to go under a counter... hence front-loaded ones with a drum are more common than top-loaded. Fridges tend to be smaller and white - you're less likely to see the big stainless steel ones with water/ice dispensers on the front (side note: this also means we don't have 'fridge packs' of fizzy drinks, because they wouldn't fit - they're sold it stockier boxes). Waste disposal units aren't as common.

In the US, dishwashers go under the counter. Itís slightly unusual to not see a dishwashing machine in a kitchen. In several UK kitchens Iíve seen there isnít a dishwashing machine but there is a clothes washing machine under the counter, hence Polenthís reference to front-loaded washing machines. Sometimes the clothes dryer is there, too. Sometimes itís in a separate space and sometimes there isnít a dryer at all, thereís drying racks and clothes lines. Sometimes thereís both a clothes washing and dishwashing machine under the counter in the kitchen.

Iím trying to think of other things that struck me about differences in British housing. Itís rare in towns and even more rare in cities to see detached houses. In the US, outside of the center of a city, itís rare to see undetached houses.

In the US, we call it a yard. Or a lawn. If itís specifically got flowers or vegetables in it itís a garden. In the UK all three of those things can be called a garden. So Iíd say I have a front and back yard with a garden off to one side where I grow tomatoes and celery. My front yard has several flower beds.

Far less accommodation for cars in the UK than the US. Fewer driveways, fewer parking spaces, fewer garages. Iíve got a house affordable with a middle income and it has a one-car garage and enough parking space on my driveway for a 19 foot van and two cars. The UK has better public transportation even outside cities. Here, outside of a few well-organized cities, public transportation is something you are forced to use because you donít have a car.

Living on multiple floors. In the US, houses tend to have the family living space on the ground floor with bedrooms and bathrooms on the next floor up (if itís not a one-story house). Iíve seen several houses in Britain where the kitchen is on a different floor than the living room.

shaldna
04-03-2014, 07:33 PM
I used to live in this street - not the nice white houses, but the crappy brown ones opposite the church. They were all tiny post-war houses with two minute bedrooms, the kitchen was six feet wide, the living room was thirteen feet by 6 feet and the bathroom was accesed through a door in the kitchen. The toilet was in it's onw little cupboard inside the bathroom - which had carpet, natch, including the side of the bath, which I'm assured was considered the height of luxry in the early 80's.

https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@54.5965,-5.700698,3a,90y,235.43h,83.2t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1szee7RjfWBHbGr5Ez529bBg!2e0!6m1 !1e1

Corussa
04-03-2014, 07:35 PM
I donít know how much the OP knows about Britishisms and translating English into American; but my experience with many British houses is that what you lot call a bathroom rarely exists in the US. In the US, a ďbathroomĒ is a room with a bath (and usually a shower built into the bath), sink and toilet. In the UK, a bathroom is often a room with a bath and sometimes a sink. Thereís a separate room with a toilet calledÖthe toilet.

Sorry for being unclear - by 'bathroom' I did indeed mean the same as you: bath (with shower overhead, in our house), sink and toilet. :) The only place in the UK I've personally ever come across where there was just a bath in a room was at boarding school, and that was because of the volume of people who needed to use baths, showers or toilets in the mornings and evenings. But I may be in a minority on this point!


Also, in case itís not obvious from Corussaís content, what we call the first floor is the ground floor in Britain. What they call the first floor is the second floor in the US.

Thanks - I hadn't thought about that!


Living on multiple floors. In the US, houses tend to have the family living space on the ground floor with bedrooms and bathrooms on the next floor up (if itís not a one-story house). Iíve seen several houses in Britain where the kitchen is on a different floor than the living room.

Again, I may be in a minority, but I would have thought it was far more common in the UK to have the kitchen on the same floor as the living room. Maybe I'm just not trendy enough? :D

mirandashell
04-03-2014, 07:36 PM
I remember the carpet up the side of the bath! And yes, it was considered fashionable.

Mr Flibble
04-03-2014, 07:38 PM
I don’t know how much the OP knows about Britishisms and translating English into American; but my experience with many British houses is that what you lot call a bathroom rarely exists in the US. In the US, a “bathroom” is a room with a bath (and usually a shower built into the bath), sink and toilet. In the UK, a bathroom is often a room with a bath and sometimes a sink. There’s a separate room with a toilet called…the toilet.


That confused me for a minute there. As far as I can tell, for both UK and US, the bathroom is the room with the...bath in it? :) Some houses here might have a separate toilet (very handy if you live with someone who likes long baths!) but by no means all, or even most?



Far less accommodation for cars in the UK than the US. Fewer driveways, fewer parking spaces, fewer garages.

For older properties that's true, mainly because they were built either before cars were invented, or before most people could afford them. So parking in my area (Victorian) is a nightmare and almost all on road, whereas my Mum's house (much newer - post war) has a garage and driveway. Most modern houses, if they don't have a drive at least of their own, will have allocated parking spaces nearby, or sometimes a block of garages behind the houses. In London and other cities, those garages can change hands for a lot of money!

ETA: Another difference is that for most places, having a car is not essential. For instance I'm less than 15 mins walk from everything I need, so I walk (and there are good public transport links too) and it was only three weeks ago I bought my first transport for fifteen years, and that only because of work. I'm not even unusual. We tend not to drive everywhere, or at least drive less, because everything is much closer together, though there are more cars about than there used to be. So while parking can be an issue, the houses that have no off road parking are the older ones that also tend to be near all the shops etc. If you live in the country though, a car is a must

I recall being in Florida and we decided to walk the two blocks to a Denny's, and we got some very weird looks! "Walk? WALK! Why do you want to walk?'

mirandashell
04-03-2014, 07:39 PM
Sorry for being unclear - by 'bathroom' I did indeed mean the same as you: bath (with shower overhead, in our house), sink and toilet. :) The only place in the UK I've personally ever come across where there was just a bath in a room was at boarding school, and that was because of the volume of people who needed to use baths, showers or toilets in the mornings and evenings. But I may be in a minority on this point!



Thanks - I hadn't thought about that!



Again, I may be in a minority, but I would have thought it was far more common in the UK to have the kitchen on the same floor as the living room. Maybe I'm just not trendy enough? :D


The seperate toilet thing I've only seen in small flats where the bathroom isn't big enough for all 3 utensils. And it's far more common in my working class experience to have the kitchen on the same floor as the living room. The bathroom and bedrooms go upstairs.

And the whole 'ensuite' thing is a very recent fashion here.

ULTRAGOTHA
04-03-2014, 07:42 PM
I freely admit I haven't been actually inside private people's houses in Britian in over a decade. Have you all joined your bathrooms and toilets a lot since then? Most toilets didn't also have a bath, though many also did.

Most houses I was in had kitchens and living rooms on the same floor. But some didn't. That was very startling as I never see that here.

mirandashell
04-03-2014, 07:49 PM
It may have been because of where you were. Different places can have very different styles of houses, including interiors. That's why we were all asking the OP where the story was set.

Mr Flibble
04-03-2014, 07:54 PM
Most houses I was in had kitchens and living rooms on the same floor. But some didn't. That was very startling as I never see that here.

It does happen in townhouses, or houses that are arranged on more than two floors sometimes, or if there's a great view from the first floor, sometimes people put the living room upstairs. But it's pretty unusual. Mind, my brother once bought a four story house that had two kitchens (one in the half-basement* and one on the first floor). This is because some people are weird. But it was in Brighton, so maybe that explains it :D


*Pretty much the only types of basement -- often in older houses in hilly areas, where it's a basement at the front of the house, that is below street level, but at the back it opens out onto the garden.

mirandashell
04-03-2014, 07:56 PM
That sounds like it used to be two flats?

Mr Flibble
04-03-2014, 07:58 PM
Apparently not. The bottom one was the "grown up" kitchen, all posh like for dinner parties. The upper one was by the kids' bedrooms/playroom and was for them and their meals.

mirandashell
04-03-2014, 07:59 PM
Eh? How old was this house?

Bolero
04-03-2014, 08:12 PM
Thought on toilets (and how often it it that you write that sentence :) )

Older houses used to have outside toilets - inside ones were considered unhygenic. So you'd go out the back door from the kitchen, and there would be a toilet outside, that you went in through an outside door. They tend to be modernised and the space added into the main house. But I worked with someone who commented that she'd had to go out into the back garden sometimes in the night, in dressing gown and nightie, to use the outside loo. They did have an inside loo too by then, but in a big family the queue could get a bit long.

But houses were still being built in 1930s where there was a back porch off the kitchen, which had the toilet in it. So you got to stay in the dry, but there was an inner back door, and then the toilet door, between you and the toilet.
Coal holes are also quite common - shed out the back door that is next to the outside toilet. Again tend to get knocked into the main house these days, but if you look at a house being sold by an old person, or their relatives (after the old person died) it may well still have the original floor layout.

Older houses may also have much older sanitary ware - so high level cistern and chain to flush it, not smooth designer close coupled matching bathroom suite.

As long as it didn't get modernised in the 1960s or early 70s (many did), Victorian terraced houses, even tiny ones, can have quite nice plaster "roses" round the light fitting, and pretty tiled fireplaces. Also panelled doors and round brass door knobs.

Mr Flibble
04-03-2014, 08:52 PM
Eh? How old was this house?

Not sure -- early Victorian? Maybe earlier than that? Like this (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/24/7%E2%80%9316_Vernon_Terrace,_Brighton_(NHLE_Code_1 381070).jpg/220px-7%E2%80%9316_Vernon_Terrace,_Brighton_(NHLE_Code_1 381070).jpg)only less posh. There's hundreds of houses just like it in that area in Brighton (though I suspect most don't have two kitchens! That was a later addition that suited the family who lived there previously. My brother turned it back into what it almost certainly was originally -- a bedroom)

mirandashell
04-03-2014, 09:00 PM
Ah interesting! In Brighton it could well be Georgian.

Mr Flibble
04-03-2014, 09:06 PM
I think perhaps it was, but I didn't want to say so and then be wrong. A lot of Georgian places around here though. Like the Taj Mahal :D

mirandashell
04-03-2014, 09:08 PM
That would George's holiday home, I'm guessing? Man that place is tacky.

Mr Flibble
04-03-2014, 09:17 PM
That would George's holiday home, I'm guessing? Man that place is tacky.

Yup, but no one calls it by its real name. Always the Taj Mahal -- makes it easier to give directions to tourists.

mirandashell
04-03-2014, 09:24 PM
Oh no, that's just cruel!

:D

Los Pollos Hermanos
04-03-2014, 09:39 PM
Can't really add much as my fellow country(wo)men have got there first and in superb detail.

From a personal point of view, I've always gone for the "buy as much as you can afford in a decent area" approach. An Englishwoman's home is definitely her castle, in addition to (hopefully) a sound investment.

I also like to look at how much houses sell for or are bought for, especially those of people you know. There's plenty of websites out there that feed my nosey streak. ;)

I'm currently selling a house, then squatting (hmmm... hope that translates into US English in a not-too-dodgy way!) with relatives until I get another place. It's easier to buy and sell without a chain if you can these days.

shaldna
04-03-2014, 10:04 PM
One thing I have noticed from watching many shows 'set' in England:

They have doors at almost every room in the main living area of the house. Whereas in the US, most houses, even older ones, either are built without doors, or the doors have been removed. (And the current trend in the US is for 'openness.' One huge room that flows from kitchen to family room to living and dining, etc.)

That's to keep the caul out.

(pronounced cowl)

How very dare someone open a door on a winter night, you'd been screamed at by elderly relatives.


In an English home, along a central hall there would be: a door into the kitchen, a door into living room or front room, a door into the dining room, etc. (Of course there are doors on the bathrooms and bedrooms. That's fairly standard.) I had heard the reason for this was due to the lack of central heating in many English homes.


I remember the day we got central heating put in. It was summer 1992 and the council did the whole estate, they moved us out six families at a time to live in static caravans while they put the new heating in. Before that we didn't have any central heating at all, although we did have a fire in the living room and hot water came from an electric run immersion switch in the kitchen which cost a fortune to use. The central heating they put in was a glass fronted fire system (awful) that a lot of houses in my home town still have - although in the last 10 years the council has been trying to convert them over to gas.


I know a couple of elderly folk who still don't have central heating, one of which actually said 'Sure what's the point now?'

I guess that's part of the reason I don't mind the cold. It's very rarely that I'll have our central heating on. My daughter is the same, she's always warm. One of my exes used to say that I was always warm because I had a devil in me. :)


Also, most folk on my estate (bizarrely, due to a change in personal circumstances I'm now living back on the same estate I gew up on) most people don't use their front doors. You go to the back door. Only strangers would ever knock on the front door. And most people don't knock on the back door, they just come in and shout if you aren't in the kitchen.




That's correct. Central heating hasn't been around for very long and the vast majority of houses built before 1980 have doors on all the rooms. In fact, in this country having an open plan house is considered posh. It means you can afford the horrendous cost of heating a massive space.


Oh god yeah. Open plan didn't really hit Ireland until Grand Designs made it look atrractive, but the cost of heating open plan in winter...... eugh. The last house I lived in was a massive open plan over 2 levels with a stone floor. It was wonderful in summer. In winter it would freeze the balls of a snowman.




I wouldn't want a house where the staircase leads out of the downstairs room - all the heat goes upstairs. Also I want to shut the door on the kitchen and keep in the smells.

There was a trend when we were young for people to box in their stairs if they led up out of a room - they would build a sort of cupboard around the stairs to keep the heat in.



Some modern houses do have one or two downstairs rooms - so you step into the living room from the front door and the staircase goes out of the room. Either archway or door to kitchen. It makes it seem more spacious and is lighter than having front door into hall and stairs and doors off.

It was pretty common here for people to not use their front rooms (the living room) and instead everything happened in the kitchen. The front room was kept for best. If you were lucky enough to have two downstairs rooms then the one at the front of the house was 'the parlour' and again it was only kept for best while the family existed out of the kitchen.





That confused me for a minute there. As far as I can tell, for both UK and US, the bathroom is the room with the...bath in it? :) Some houses here might have a separate toilet (very handy if you live with someone who likes long baths!) but by no means all, or even most?

In Ireland it's more common to have a bath and sink in one room and a toilet in another smaller room. If you're really posh you might have a separate downstairs toilet with a small handbasin.

Ensuites weren't common at all when we were kids and they were only for the really, really posh. I remember my granny complaining about them 'why would you want to sleep in a room you wee in?'



For older properties that's true, mainly because they were built either before cars were invented, or before most people could afford them. So parking in my area (Victorian) is a nightmare and almost all on road, whereas my Mum's house (much newer - post war) has a garage and driveway. Most modern houses, if they don't have a drive at least of their own, will have allocated parking spaces nearby, or sometimes a block of garages behind the houses. In London and other cities, those garages can change hands for a lot of money!

Housing estates are different - here at least - you would be lucky to be able to park outside your house - a lot of houses are off road to, down footpaths etc. Mine is like that, the closest space to park a car is 100 years away on the road.

The council used to rent out garages in the estates here, but most of those got knocked down to make room for more housing. At least the standalone ones did. The others had houses under them, although the tenancy of the garage was different to the tenancy of the house, so you would often find people living above a garage them was rented out to someone else from another part of the estate. Those houses were called 'masionettes'



Coal holes are also quite common - shed out the back door that is next to the outside toilet. Again tend to get knocked into the main house these days, but if you look at a house being sold by an old person, or their relatives (after the old person died) it may well still have the original floor layout.

Ah yeah, the coal house. We all had those - ours was a little annex just as you came through the front door.
And your coal was delivered every week by the coal man.

Bolero
04-03-2014, 10:37 PM
Going off topic a fraction - but the mention of cold and elderly relatives, just have to ask - did anyone else get told to dry their hair immediately after it was washed (rather than letting it dry naturally) because you'd catch a cold/catch your death?

And on the subject of shutting doors - loud yell "shut the door, were you raised in a barn/field?"

Oh - and whoever said drying racks etc and not tumble drier. Second that. In our first house as a kid (with very high ceilings) we actually had an airer that hung from the ceiling on pulley wheels and you winched it up and down.
OH and I don't and never have had a tumble drier. We hang most wet washing up in an outbuilding and when mostly dry bring it in on racks in the lounge. In the past (before the outbuilding) put it on a rack with a dehumidifier pointed into it.





There was a trend when we were young for people to box in their stairs if they led up out of a room - they would build a sort of cupboard around the stairs to keep the heat in.


Cottages used to be built like that.




It was pretty common here for people to not use their front rooms (the living room) and instead everything happened in the kitchen. The front room was kept for best. If you were lucky enough to have two downstairs rooms then the one at the front of the house was 'the parlour' and again it was only kept for best while the family existed out of the kitchen.


Yes, my mother grew up like that. They had a piano in the unheated front parlour and she used to freeze in winter when practising. Also she said that her father stored apples in there because it was cold and piano music always reminded her of the smell of apples. They can't have had any parlour level surprise visitors. Must have taken a while to clear out the apples.



Housing estates are different - here at least - you would be lucky to be able to park outside your house - a lot of houses are off road to, down footpaths etc. Mine is like that, the closest space to park a car is 100 years away on the road.


There are ones like that here too. Both council and commercial. Also get Victorian houses down footpaths off the main road.

mirandashell
04-03-2014, 10:40 PM
Yep! All of those. Especially 'Were you bloody born in a barn?! Shut the door!'

Bolero
04-03-2014, 10:45 PM
And it was really, really unwise to turn back to your parents who had just shouted "were you born in a barn?"
To say "well you should know".

On the subject of economy living. Did anyone else's parents mend broken china by sticking it back together with Araldite? Mostly plates snapped in two or handles broken off cups.

waylander
04-03-2014, 10:59 PM
We have no clothes drier. Clothes horse in the spare room or out in the garden if the weather is fine.

Mr Flibble
04-03-2014, 11:02 PM
It was pretty common here for people to not use their front rooms (the living room) and instead everything happened in the kitchen. The front room was kept for best. If you were lucky enough to have two downstairs rooms then the one at the front of the house was 'the parlour' and again it was only kept for best while the family existed out of the kitchen.

Oh gods yes! My Gran only used her front room at Christmas when the whole family came round. Only it was called the parlour as you say. Very reminiscent of a certain sort of working class -- the sort that, as Vimes says, have nothing but would be rather caught dead than not having scrubbed the front doorstep. The parlour was the land of antimacassars, doilies and pot plants, all manner of old Vctoriana and was no to be trespassed in on PAIN OF DEATH!










Housing estates are different - here at least - you would be lucky to be able to park outside your house - a lot of houses are off road to, down footpaths etc. Mine is like that, the closest space to park a car is 100 years away on the road.

That's a hell of a commute :P


There's some estates like that around here -- there is parking, but it may not be anywhere near your house, and may well be in a garage block that is..er...a less than savoury place to be after dark, or in "allocated parking". Down our road, being Victorian, it's every man for himself. And being as some houses have more than one car...At least my motorbike fits on the front "garden" (It's a bit of concrete 6 foot deep)

Los Pollos Hermanos
04-03-2014, 11:16 PM
As a kid I used to get either one of "Were you born in a barn" or "put t'wood in t'hole" when I swanned out of the front room and left the door wide open during winter. Mum's family are from Yorkshire, and they've got some belting expressions for pretty much everything on the wrong ;) side of the Pennines. I don't talk Tyke, btw, but I understand most of it!

We also had a drying rack which could be lowered from the ceiling. Never had a tumble drier - even now. Clothes horses and radiators in winter and the washing line in the garden when it's not cold and raining (so about ten days per year).

Even now I get nagged about going out with wet hair in cold weather (if I'm staying with the Olds) and I'm in my 30s!

p.s. Mr Flibble - "Quarantine" is my favourite ever Red Dwarf episode.
"My name is Dr Hildegaard Landstrom, and I am quite, quite mad" - absolute genius!

mirandashell
04-04-2014, 01:05 AM
(And the current trend in the US is for 'openness.' One huge room that flows from kitchen to family room to living and dining, etc.)

I meant to ask; where do you go when you want time on your own?

AVS
04-04-2014, 01:22 AM
English houses are often old... the doors on the hallways and rooms are to keep more than the cold out. Don't want those things wandering around the house unfettered.

frimble3
04-04-2014, 06:21 AM
I meant to ask; where do you go when you want time on your own? And, when visitors come, you've got to tidy half the house!
The older generation, with their parlours 'just for special guests' had a more practical view of the world than the 'open plan' people.

Kashmirgirl1976
04-04-2014, 06:30 AM
They're often Victorian era terraces, or semi detached.

For instance:

http://i61.tinypic.com/2cz3a0w.jpg

or

http://i58.tinypic.com/2ivi2wh.jpg

But, to forewarn, places like this are generally considered 'poor' areas (not always true, though). Council housing is cheaper to rent than homes owned privately, but a family with an average income may well live somewhere slightly more upmarket.

You're not particularly likely to finding housing like this in more rural areas, either, they're usually found in inner-mid city or in medium-large towns.

The interiors usually, as you can imagine, change from house to house.

Perspective is a funny thing. I looked at those houses and noted how nice they looked. Council housing from what I seen is still better than the housing projects in many U.S. cities.

Akragth
04-04-2014, 08:09 AM
Perspective is a funny thing. I looked at those houses and noted how nice they looked. Council housing from what I seen is still better than the housing projects in many U.S. cities.

Perhaps, though I suspect that overall the two are quite similar. To be fair, though, I think my own perspective has changed since moving to Australia, where housing like the ones I posted basically don't exist.

The issue with housing like that is less the actual home, more the area in general. A lot of housing like the ones in the second pic are fast disappearing though, either sitting dormant/boarded up or being replaced by newer housing.

Kashmirgirl1976
04-04-2014, 11:12 AM
Perhaps, though I suspect that overall the two are quite similar. To be fair, though, I think my own perspective has changed since moving to Australia, where housing like the ones I posted basically don't exist.

The issue with housing like that is less the actual home, more the area in general. A lot of housing like the ones in the second pic are fast disappearing though, either sitting dormant/boarded up or being replaced by newer housing.

Fascinating!

shaldna
04-04-2014, 01:18 PM
Oh gods yes! My Gran only used her front room at Christmas when the whole family came round. Only it was called the parlour as you say. Very reminiscent of a certain sort of working class -- the sort that, as Vimes says, have nothing but would be rather caught dead than not having scrubbed the front doorstep. The parlour was the land of antimacassars, doilies and pot plants, all manner of old Vctoriana and was no to be trespassed in on PAIN OF DEATH!

You're never too poor to buy soap.

The Fifth Elephant?

Bolero
04-04-2014, 01:38 PM
The issue with housing like that is less the actual home, more the area in general. A lot of housing like the ones in the second pic are fast disappearing though, either sitting dormant/boarded up or being replaced by newer housing.

As you say, varies by area. Really does depend a bit on which city you are talking about.

Reading has a lot of red brick terraces - some with no front gardens as in your photos. They are still very much in use - see
http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-40840711.html

(There weren't any without front gardens for sale.) These Reading brick terraces were all built by manufacturers for their workforce. Reading used to be a light industry/manufacturing town. Huntley and Palmer's biscuit factory for example. These days there are a lot of commuters to London living there - though also folks who work in Reading.

Again, terraced house in Hammersmith, London - but it is a bit bigger and nicer than the ones in AK link.

http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-29495481.html

Yet in some areas, where the jobs are thinner on the ground and pay a lot less, as AK says there are boarded up streets. I'm trying to remember where it was - but a council was selling off houses for £1 each but they had to be done up and become owner occupied - they were trying to rescue the area.

So there you go - depending on the area a red brick terraced house could sell for anything from £1 to nearly £1,000,000.

So as folks have been saying - you do need to tell us which area you are talking about to get the detail right.


Thought on cars - has US gone in for really small cars like the Ford Ka? They are quite popular, especially with singles or no-kid couples who live on streets with difficult parking.

Bolero
04-04-2014, 01:44 PM
You're never too poor to buy soap.

The Fifth Elephant?

Oh goodness me yes. And I can't remember if it was in Fifth Elephant, but there was another Vimes comment on "too poor to paint, too proud to whitewash"

I also remember a landlady of mine when I was a student (living in her spare room in a Victorian brick terraced house) who regularly told me which houses on the street still had outside toilets. She was quite sniffy about them - they were definitely a bit lower class than she was now.
She was also very emphatic about how her husband wasn't a builder, these days he was a foreman.

Oh - and the brick terraced houses built by factories. Some areas have a nicer house on the end of each terrace - bigger house at the corner, more garden - and those were the houses for the foreman, rather than the ordinary worker.

waylander
04-04-2014, 02:53 PM
I'm trying to remember where it was - but a council was selling off houses for £1 each but they had to be done up and become owner occupied - they were trying to rescue the area.




Hull?

DrZoidberg
04-04-2014, 02:55 PM
This is how British people live

https://www.google.se/search?q=buckingham+palace&safe=off&client=opera&hs=G8N&channel=suggest&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=gY8-U5uVD-Kn4ATd2IEo&ved=0CAgQ_AUoAQ&biw=1366&bih=645

EMaree
04-04-2014, 03:07 PM
Haha, I wish. :D

mirandashell
04-04-2014, 03:39 PM
There's room for quite a lot of us in there......

Helix
04-04-2014, 03:52 PM
I suppose the bedroom tax doesn't extend to Buck House.

Akragth
04-04-2014, 04:14 PM
but a council was selling off houses for £1 each but they had to be done up and become owner occupied - they were trying to rescue the area.

Liverpool: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/property/propertypicturegalleries/9883749/Pound-land-derelict-houses-in-Liverpool-to-be-sold-for-just-one-pound.html

mirandashell
04-04-2014, 04:35 PM
I suppose the bedroom tax doesn't extend to Buck House.

It should do. But when it's for the Queen it's called the Civil List instead of Housing Benefit.

Helix
04-04-2014, 04:45 PM
It should do. But when it's for the Queen it's called the Civil List instead of Housing Benefit.


That just sparked a memory of Sue Townsend's The Queen and I.

mirandashell
04-04-2014, 05:38 PM
Is it the one where the Monarchy are abolished and she has to move into a council flat?

Helix
04-04-2014, 05:45 PM
That's the one! Prince Philip doesn't like it, but the Queen makes the best of it. IIRC, the Queen Mother settles in and lives it up with the other pensioners until she pops her clogs.

Fallen
04-04-2014, 06:16 PM
I grew up in what's known as the 'cow shed' council houses (in our area). The bottom was wood, the top was brick, with a steel structure throughout. Those were the days when every shopping list came a truck-load of cling film that you'd use to fasten to the windows, just to keep the cold out. Gloves came in handy too.

mirandashell
04-04-2014, 06:20 PM
I remember those! They were pre-fabs built after the War, weren't they?

Fallen
04-04-2014, 07:13 PM
*nods* Very much so. They updated a lot of them by covering them in shale. Only they forgot to do anything about the windows, so the cling film still comes in handy. :D

ablurryfigure
04-04-2014, 08:31 PM
If mine is anything to go by, messy :D

aruna
04-04-2014, 09:49 PM
What a lovely thread! I love talking house and I used to be a property-show junkie when living in the UK! I haven't finished reading it but here are a few things that caught my eye when moving to the UK from Germany in 2001. I moved house three times, to three totally different kinds of accommodation, and some of the things that were consistent that I noticed were:
.. light switches on cords hanging down in the bathroom.
.. no UK houses seem to have names on the doorbells outside the homes
... one big difference -- and I don't know what it's like in the US so this might by ordinary to you -- is that windows open outwards in the UK; in Germany they open inwards. This means that for cleaning upstairs windows you have to call in a window-cleaner! This is an actual profession in the UK which doesn't exist in Germany -- you see them with their ladders and hoses polishing the upstairs windows of houses! (Come to think of it I HAVE seen window-cleaners in US films so probably you do have them.)
-- none of the houses I moved into had mixer taps. I think newer homes do have them
-- open fireplaces, but this has been already mentioned in the posts I have read

You can see what houses look like using Google Street view, but this has also been mentioned I believe.

mirandashell
04-04-2014, 09:54 PM
That's interesting about the windows. Are the windows in Germany on a vertical or horizontal pivot? Are the hinges at the side or half way down the window?

mirandashell
04-04-2014, 09:56 PM
And the light switch cord in bathrooms are a safety feature, AFAIA. Do you not have them in Germany?

And mixer taps have never really caught on here. Only with people who don't have enough room for two taps

aruna
04-04-2014, 10:12 PM
That's interesting about the windows. Are the windows in Germany on a vertical or horizontal pivot? Are the hinges at the side or half way down the window?


They are vertical, and you can turn the handle around so you can "tilt" the window, leaving it open at a gap and yet secure. I'll take a photo tomorrow and post it. The main disadvantage is if you have plants, ornaments on our windowsill you have to remove everything if you want to clean the outside window by opening it up wide (but I only clean my outside windows once a year anyway; Germany seem to clean them all the time!)

aruna
04-04-2014, 10:14 PM
And the light switch cord in bathrooms are a safety feature, AFAIA. Do you not have them in Germany?

Nope. Just ordinary light switches, plugs etc.

And mixer taps have never really caught on here. Only with people who don't have enough room for two taps

Mixers are standard here. I don't even think you can get separate taps!

mirandashell
04-04-2014, 10:17 PM
Really? That surprises me in the bathroom. I've never seen a normal light switch in this country. Always a cord. Wet fingers and sparks. As for windows, I have lived in places that had the vertically pivoted windows but it's not that common here.

Old Hack
04-04-2014, 10:29 PM
Current building regulations insist that bathroom lights are controlled by a switch outside the bathroom--so we have ordinary switches now, not pull-switches.

Our windows don't open inwards OR outwards: we have sliding sashes. They're made from English oak, and are double glazed so they're very heavy, but they're more in keeping with the period of our house.

mirandashell
04-04-2014, 10:35 PM
Oh wow. I love sash windows. I had them in a flat I once lived in that was part of a converted Victorian house. They were fantastic. I actually missed them when I moved out.

Mr Flibble
04-04-2014, 10:35 PM
Mixer taps are becoming a lot more common (I spent a fair while working at a builder centre) but for a long time, separate taps were the order of the day die to ...er..the hot water??? not being potable. That's rapidly changing now, though. Mixer taps are de rigeur, darling.

ULTRAGOTHA
04-04-2014, 10:36 PM
Most houses in the US have sash windows. They don’t open in or out, they slide up. You can sit on the windowsill to clean on the second (first) floor or get a ladder or hire someone.

There are casement windows that open inwards or outwards but they’re newer and sashes are still sold.

If by mixer, you mean one spout in the sink and a lever that leans either left or right for hot or cold or a mix of water, those are quite common here especially in kitchens. You can get them for sinks in bathrooms also but two taps are more common. Two taps are more common in bathtubs, also, but it’s by no means uncommon to have a mixer there, too.

We have light switches on walls in most of our bathrooms. You flip the switch up to turn the lights ON and down to turn the lights OFF. It’s backwards in the UK (and your switch shape is different, too). The only place where it’s common to have a pull cord to switch on a light would be in utility rooms, sheds and garages. Even there we often have switches. I’ve a switch in my garage but pull cords in the furnace room (where my gas furnace and hot water heater live).

The only place I’d expect to see a name on the doorbell button would be at the common door into an apartment building (block of flats). It would be uncommon to have a name on a door bell at a private residence (but then our private residences are usually detached houses with yards separating them).

Fireplaces are not universal here in single family homes. It wouldn’t surprise me to see one, it wouldn’t surprise me not to see one. In general, though, they’re not completely open. They usually have at least a glass door. I had two fireplaces in one of my houses and both of them were open. One had a wonderful two-wall system that had an electric fan so the fire would heat the air between the fireplace and the wall and then be blown out into the room. That was great!

Now I have a fireplace in the living room with a glass door and a wood stove down in the family room. Purely for heat, not a cooking wood stove (those are rare).

Bolero
04-04-2014, 10:38 PM
And mixer taps have never really caught on here. Only with people who don't have enough room for two taps

Well - we had a mixer tap on the kitchen sink as a kid, mixer tap with short shower in the bathroom for rinsing your hair.

OH and I have actively sought out mixer taps for the bathroom and fitted them ourselves to run a shower in several places we've lived.

I'm sure I've seen mixer taps in other houses.

Another rule in UK that probably wouldn't come up in a book - all toilets run off syphons. There are no direct flush from the cistern as there are in Europe. Can lead to toilets being a pain to flush when the syphon is getting old - "well you give it a half pull and wait a moment and then press down hard" says the host as you head to the bathroom.

Names on doorbells - I thought the police discouraged it for safety/security. Just put the flat number on the door bell not "Miss Smith".

Mr Flibble
04-04-2014, 10:38 PM
The only place Iíd expect to see a name on the doorbell button would be at the common door into an apartment building (block of flats).

Same here, but Aruna was talking about Germany so perhaps it's different there?

mirandashell
04-04-2014, 10:39 PM
Then I expect the mixer tap aversion is a Midlands thing. They are not that common here unless you have a small sink.

aruna
04-04-2014, 11:29 PM
And the light switch cord in bathrooms are a safety feature, AFAIA. Do you not have them in Germany?

And mixer taps have never really caught on here. Only with people who don't have enough room for two taps

Every move I made in the UK, I exchanged sink and taps so I could have mixers!


Same here, but Aruna was talking about Germany so perhaps it's different there?

Yes -- it's standard here, especially on apartment buildings. Some families even have really creative signs with all the family member names on them -- even the kids! I also noticed that in phone books, all that is given is the last name. Here, you have the full name, or names, AND addressed -- eg John and Mary Smith, Street Name and number. I guess security isn't such a big deal here!

Mr Flibble
04-04-2014, 11:33 PM
Well - we had a mixer tap on the kitchen sink as a kid, mixer tap with short shower in the bathroom for rinsing your hair.

Oooh! La-di-dah, Gunner Graham*


*I have just dated myself hideously. :D

When I were a nipper, you used to get a rubber hose attachment to put on the sink taps to rinse your hair under a "shower". It was the height of tech at the time...

mirandashell
04-04-2014, 11:58 PM
We had one of those! It was what you would buy if you couldn't afford a shower

shaldna
04-05-2014, 01:05 AM
I suppose the bedroom tax doesn't extend to Buck House.

The bedroom tax is causing a lot of heartache for people around here right now. For those who don't know, if you live in council owned accommodation then your housing needs are assessed on a points system and you are allocated property based on your individual needs - so, for instance, a single person living on their own only needs one, single bedroom. A couple only need one double bedroom. Children are expected to share a single or double until aged 16, and boys and girls are expected to share until aged 7. Box bedrooms (usually about 6 x 9 feet) are considered okay for a single child up to aged 7, I think.

Now, the reality is that if you have three kids you are going to be squeezed for space. I have a cousin with four teenage daughters living in a two double and a box room. It's a tight squeeze with three of the daughters sharing a room only intended for 2.

As a slight derail, getting a council house is really, really hard. The lists are massive because the rent is cheap. The houses aren't generally spectacular, although many estates have seen a lot of improvement in recent years with better quality houses. To get one you basically have to sign onto a list with the housing executive, and then you are assessed and allocated points based on your situation. For instance, a single man might be allocated 40 points, but a family who are threatened with homelessness may be awarded 160. In all honesty though, here you can be sitting on the list for years and never get a house. And you really need to have 140 or more points to even be in with a chance.

And although you can ask for a certain estate or are of choice, once you've been on the list for 6 months then you'll be added to the surrounding areas. You'll get a maximum of three offers of accommodation, and after that you are taken off the list again. And just because you want a house doesn't mean you'll be offered one - you can be offered a flat too. When I had my daughter the council offered me a 2 bedroom flat on the 2 floor (three levels above the street) in a building with no lift, cause carrying a baby, a buggy and groceries by myself was going to be simple.

There are a lot of high rises too - big tower blocks that can have 15 or 20 floors. If you are allocated one of those then you may never be able to transfer out. I have a friend who has been waiting 8 years to try and get him and his girlfriend out of their flat in Scotland, but their council operates a general housing list and an 'aspirational' list for people who want to move to a bigger place - such as if you have a baby or something.

But the issue is that you aren't awarded housing points for a baby until after the baby is born, and even then there's no rush because it's expected that the baby can share the parents room for the first year. That's the theory anyway, I have a cousin who's GF had a baby when they were in a one bedroom flat and they applied to move. A year later they were still waiting and they'd had another baby. So that was four people in a one bedroom flat and they still had to wait, because that's the thing, the council can't give you accommodation they don't have, and the right to buy scheme (where tenants were able to buy their houses at a discounted rate after 5 years of tenancy) meant that the stock of social housing has massively depleated, because, let's be honest, in this day and age if you can buy your house for £35k then you're going to do it (actual price 3 bedroom houses in my street are going for at the moment. A 2 bed closer to town recently sold for £16k). You can, in emergencies, be offered hostel accommodation, but that's pretty dire and you need to be literally homeless or your life in danger before you get on the list, and it's crazy expensive, so if you are working then it's almost impossible for most people to afford.

If you don't have enough points to move, assuming you already have a council house, you can sign up to a swap list - most executives operate a list or book where people who are looking to move - change areas, upsize, downsize etc - can put their details. Swapping is a lot easier than getting a house in the first place.

Now, the bedroom tax means that people who are considered to be underoccuppying and are in receipt of housing benefit (ie. some or all of their rent is paid for them) then they will have to pay for the unused rooms. Now, this sounds fair in principle, but for older folk who's kids have moved out and who have maybe lived in the same house for 30 years, it's causing difficulty and can be heartbreaking. Likewise, unemployed people or single parents (here a single mother can claim income support and housing benefit until her youngest child is 7) who have maybe been originally allocated a three bedroom house when they only have one child, which happened a lot - after all, if you were top of the list when a house became available then you were offered it, but that was back then, now they try to match properties with needs a lot better.

So, an older couple may end up having to pay £20 or £30 a week to top up their housing benefit, which is a lot of money if you are benefits, which for a couple only amounts to £120 per week - that's £60 each. For someone with children it's £70. If you can't afford it, then the only other option is to move, which again, adds a lot of stress.



I grew up in what's known as the 'cow shed' council houses (in our area). The bottom was wood, the top was brick, with a steel structure throughout. Those were the days when every shopping list came a truck-load of cling film that you'd use to fasten to the windows, just to keep the cold out. Gloves came in handy too.

God, they still have loads of those in Belfast. Or there are the ones that have a wooden panel under the window. I never thought they looked safe.



We had one of those! It was what you would buy if you couldn't afford a shower

Where we grew up having a shower was really posh, having an electric shower was considered having ideas above your station. Most people just had a rubber attachment that fitted over the bath taps.

Oh, and the bathroom suites came in some interesting colours - pink, green and peach were common for years. We had a green set - green bath, toilet, sink with matching green tiles too.

Of course, I realise I'm making this sound like no one in the UK or Ireland lives in any sort of accommodation. My folks have a nice semi, three bed, two bathroom. Here most of those sort of developments will be quite nice, all privately owned, and the majority of them will be a storey and a half - the split level / loft conversion look is really popular, and in addition there are a lot of building regulations etc that won't allow you anything more than 1 1/2 levels in some areas.

mirandashell
04-05-2014, 01:12 AM
We are making it sound like real dumps, aren't we?

I loved where I lived as a kid. Every family in the area had the same so we didn't know any different. We had food, we had shelter, we had fun. We could go outside all day without our parents freaking cos they couldn't see us. We had exercise and fresh air and socialisation. I wouldn't give up the childhood I had for any other.

shaldna
04-05-2014, 01:33 AM
We are making it sound like real dumps, aren't we?

I loved where I lived as a kid. Every family in the area had the same so we didn't know any different. We had food, we had shelter, we had fun. We could go outside all day without our parents freaking cos they couldn't see us. We had exercise and fresh air and socialisation. I wouldn't give up the childhood I had for any other.


Same here. But as I said up thread, I'm now back living on the same estate that I grew up in and I don't let my daughter do HALF of what we got up.

I remember that we used to camp out in a tent overnight on a small piece of grass (not a garden, a park area) with no parents when we were about 10 or 11.

mirandashell
04-05-2014, 01:35 AM
What's the difference?

LA*78
04-05-2014, 02:12 AM
In one of my WIPs, the MC is in England. Obviously I don't want to describe the house too much, but drop in details throughout.

I've never been to England (I'm American), so any insight would be appreciated on the typical features of English homes.

I've never been to England either, but I enjoy watching TV shows like Escape to the Country (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0390700/). You usually get to see a urban dwelling, some rural dwellings and a bit about the people who reside in them.

aruna
04-05-2014, 08:05 AM
I just love the look of traditional English houses. They all look so cosy and inviting, form the outside! I realise they can be anything but, when you actually live in them, what with draughts and so.. but when I first came I used to drive around just looking at some of the older Sussex houses, quaint little Kent villages, beautiful gardens -- oh, the gardens! Some are spectacular! And I used to dream about buying one some day, when I got rich from my bestseller! Never happened -- though I did buy a house, which proved to be too much, so I sold it and bought a flat instead.
The flat is in this house:
http://i66.photobucket.com/albums/h266/arunadasi/enys_zps4c38c8cf.jpeg (http://s66.photobucket.com/user/arunadasi/media/enys_zps4c38c8cf.jpeg.html)

It's a Victorian terrace which used to be a row of houses, most of which were converted into flats. And no, the roof is not flat: it's on a slope, and the photo taken from below.

Another thing about English houses: most of them have wall-to-wall carpeting. Which is nice underfoot, but looks quite worn after a few years. The bane of my life!

Oh, and sash windows: I know them from Guyana. Never seen them in Germany (I think).

Kirsty and Phil, I miss you!

Bolero
04-05-2014, 12:35 PM
One other thought for OP's book. Street naming and house numbering. I have the vague impression that it is done very logically in the US - could be wrong.

But in the UK it can be quite "fun" driving around trying to find a house.

In rural areas, once you are outside a village, there is generally no naming of streets. Houses are usually named not numbered.

In estates you get all sorts of layouts and sometimes the road numbering rises from the start of the road, but it is say odd numbers to your left, even to your right. If you have the alleys mentioned earlier, then the house numbering goes off up the alley - so driving along looking for a house, the numbers can jump by say 20 across the mouth of the alley.

In older towns, if you have infill building in a garden to a side of an older house, then if it was built in the garden of number 3, the house become 3a. So 1, 2, 3, 3a, 4 etc

People also like to name their houses - sometimes it is a number plus a name, sometimes just a name. And you get all sorts from "Misty View" and "Sunny Ridge" to "BethnBob" or "Innisfree" or "Windermere" or jokey ones like "Dunroamin".

So you could have quite an extensive scene of your US couple trying to find the house they are visiting...... :D

Bolero
04-05-2014, 12:45 PM
Another thing about English houses: most of them have wall-to-wall carpeting. Which is nice underfoot, but looks quite worn after a few years. The bane of my life!


Nice house. :)

1. Out of curiosity, carpeting - what were you expecting instead?

2. When I was a kid it was floor boards, stained or painted around the edge, and a carpet was a not wall to wall, it was a big rug with bound edges. When you moved, you took it with you and there was the fun thing of working out which room in your new house, the carpets from the old house would fit in. We had a whole mix on carpets - it wasn't fancy axminster rugs. The lounge one was a plain gold, dining room a sort of grey. The stair carpet was a very hard wearing green one held onto the stairs with stair rods.
Wall to wall fitted carpets came in possibly late '70s - I had the impression that was from America.

3. If you couldn't afford carpet, it was lino, which was cold underfoot - so bedrooms would be lino, with a little rug beside the bed to be warm underfoot when you got out to find your slippers.

4. These days plastic, and processed wood, laminate floors are also popular as is taking up the fitted carpets and polishing the floor boards. BUT a lot of floor boards in older house were cheap wood not meant to be seen and don't polish well. In blocks of flats having hard floors can cause a lot of noise and it can be forbidden to have anything other than carpet with underlay, and there will be rules in the headlease that says that carpets cannot be lifted for more than say 48 hours.

There was a brief fad for not only wall to wall carpeting but taking it up the skirting boards too. (My mind pictures a slightly glossy, artificial fibre, deep pile, dark pink carpet when I say that.)

KarmaPolice
04-05-2014, 01:06 PM
Yeah, fitted carpets really took off in the 70's - people put them anywhere, including bathrooms and kitchens. Talk about a plastic love-in; memories of constantly getting static shocks from the polyester clothes, sofa, carpet and the old Ferguson telly. You forgot the middle range between the Axminster and the lino - carpet tiles. They're fine for an office, but rather rough on bare feet, and a bitch to get sticky stains out of.

The thing I remember was that some post-war council houses (from the 50's to 70's) didn't have bare floorboards underneath - they had tiles, like the ones you also found in school classrooms. I think it was to hide the fact they had concrete flooring.

Bolero
04-05-2014, 02:23 PM
Ceramic tiles or lino tiles? (Assuming the latter but thought I'd ask.)

Yes, carpet tiles - bleh. And usually in really thrilling shades of brown. And you hoped the brown was the original colour........

Lino tiles - usually fake marbles and often laid in a chess board pattern. Swirly two shades of blue or green or red vs white with a few flecks of blue/green/red,

Yard - mentioned earlier in this thread that gardens aren't called yards. Just thought to come back and say what a UK yard is - paved and surrounded by walls - maybe or maybe not on all sides. Not a patio, that's different.
So an old house with no real garden, small area out the back of the house, surrounded by three six feet tall brick or stone walls - one to each of neighbours, and one to the alley out that back, laid to cobbles (or flagstones). That would be a yard.
Also builders yard - where the builder keeps heaps of scaffolding and building material, loads his lorry in the morning - surrounded by a fence.

But definitely nothing green and growing in a yard. :) Unless it has a few yuppified tubs with neatly sculpted shrubs growing in them. :D

aruna
04-05-2014, 03:19 PM
I really have an obsession with houses. I love novels, for instance, where the house is a main character; at present reading just such a book, the fifth in the Cazalet Chronicles, (highly recommended if you like family sagas!) and I easily fall in love with houses. I had a friend, actually the mother of one of my daughter's friends, who had (inherited) this lovely old estate on the South Coast, near Eastbourne, with lots of old trees and pavillions and all higgeldy-piggeldy inside.

I also love Old Hack's house, though I've never been there for real.

I love the house in Guyana I grew up in, which had to be sold but fortunately was not pulled down, but renovated. I love grand old houses with a history, where all kinds of people lived and all kinds of tragedies and romances took place. Gorgeous.

I always longed for such a place of my own one day, but it hasn't happened, yet; and maybe won't. And if it does, its history will be someone else's.

All my novels seem to feature such a house. Strange!

shaldna
04-05-2014, 04:31 PM
I completely forgot to mention the corrugated iron houses that still exist in the next town from me. They never come up for sale etc because the tenants never want to move out. They are really quirky little houses, but cute, you know? And I just think how amazing the rain must sound on the roof.

aruna
04-05-2014, 05:28 PM
You don't mean the whole house was of corrugated iron?

In Guyana most roofs are still made of corrugated iron. And you're right, when it rains it is the most wonderful sound in the world. Imagine a tropical rain, where it feels as if the whole ocean is in the sky and pouring down on you, roaring off the roof while you are safe and dry in your bed! I used to LOVE that sound as a child. I still do, whenever I go home and it rains.

shaldna
04-05-2014, 06:32 PM
You don't mean the whole house was of corrugated iron?

In Guyana most roofs are still made of corrugated iron. And you're right, when it rains it is the most wonderful sound in the world. Imagine a tropical rain, where it feels as if the whole ocean is in the sky and pouring down on you, roaring off the roof while you are safe and dry in your bed! I used to LOVE that sound as a child. I still do, whenever I go home and it rains.


Yeah, from what I can remember they were put up post war as a temporary stopgap measure - they are quite small, ground floor only bungalows. But people seemed to love them, so there are still some of them about.

KarmaPolice
04-05-2014, 09:30 PM
Ceramic tiles. Usually in grey, with white dashed lines over them. You'll find them in any public building constructed in the UK in the 60's. Amazingly enough, I know from experience that local councils still have a stock of them just in case.

The corrugated iron bungalows are called 'prefabs'; designed just after WWII to cope with the huge housing shortage from years of bombing. They were made of steel, aluminium and some light woods, parts made in converted aircraft factories, then quickly assembled like flat-pack furniture. People liked them because they had running water, better heating, electricity and proper indoor plumbing - something that their previous houses didn't have. They were only meant to last 10 - 15 years while the proper new houses were built, and most have long perished (British rain, the enemy of all buildings). However, a few have survived; a street of prefabs in a town near me has actually been given Grade II listing.

Mr Flibble
04-05-2014, 10:39 PM
I've never been to England either, but I enjoy watching TV shows like Escape to the Country (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0390700/). You usually get to see a urban dwelling, some rural dwellings and a bit about the people who reside in them.

What you need to remember there is they do not have an average budget...most people do not quibble about acerage, or the fifth bedroom or whether it's got a great view of the Pennines. They feature people well above the "average " bracket usually. I'd love to see what they could get on my halfpenny budget....

mirandashell
04-05-2014, 11:12 PM
Oh yes. And the vast majority of us don't want a kitchen that covers half an acre.

ULTRAGOTHA
04-05-2014, 11:19 PM
I do. Sighs wistfully.

Mr Flibble
04-05-2014, 11:39 PM
I wouldn't turn it down

But I'd kill for one two people could stand in side by side

Bloody Victorians (I'm hoping to extend this year, yay!)

shaldna
04-05-2014, 11:46 PM
What you need to remember there is they do not have an average budget...most people do not quibble about acerage, or the fifth bedroom or whether it's got a great view of the Pennines. They feature people well above the "average " bracket usually. I'd love to see what they could get on my halfpenny budget....

Grand designs is the same, and I'm always pretty shocked about some of the people who are on it - I mean, you often see teachers and nurses on it, who aren't on spectacular wages but yet apparently have a budget of £800k.....? They can't all have big inheritances or family money surely.

I would love to see what those shows do with a realistic mortgage budget for the 'average' couples they show - how much can a nurse and a bin man get with a £100k mortgage and no 'reserve' money.

mirandashell
04-06-2014, 12:05 AM
I wouldn't turn it down

But I'd kill for one two people could stand in side by side

Bloody Victorians (I'm hoping to extend this year, yay!)

We've got one of those. Can't get two people in at the same time.

Bolero
04-06-2014, 12:26 AM
Grand designs is the same, and I'm always pretty shocked about some of the people who are on it - I mean, you often see teachers and nurses on it, who aren't on spectacular wages but yet apparently have a budget of £800k.....? They can't all have big inheritances or family money surely.

I would love to see what those shows do with a realistic mortgage budget for the 'average' couples they show - how much can a nurse and a bin man get with a £100k mortgage and no 'reserve' money.

If they bought a terraced house in London many years back and sold at the height of the market.....

There was the cruck frame house in the woods for the guy who lived off his woodland - that was on a very tight budget and was one of my favourite of the programmes. This one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WgduN7uNGOY

Kevin McCloud has also did a programme (not Grand Designs) of building a small estate in partnership with a housing trust. That was supposed to be good design on a budget.

LA*78
04-06-2014, 02:44 AM
What you need to remember there is they do not have an average budget...most people do not quibble about acerage, or the fifth bedroom or whether it's got a great view of the Pennines. They feature people well above the "average " bracket usually. I'd love to see what they could get on my halfpenny budget....

Maybe I'm thinking of the wrong show? The one I've seen episodes of, they often want a great deal, but even if they get their house to sell, then tend to have budgets between 200-500k (sorry I don't have a pound symbol). So they show them crappy ones that are in the dream location, have the extra bedrooms etc, then show them more realistic ones in their price-range.

200k would be about $350kAUD which would be very bottom of the barrel housing (if that) in any of the bigger cities here.

The big difference I notice between the houses they show and houses in Australia is how small everything appears. Lots of stooping to get through doorways, turning sideways to pass on stairs and in halls etc. I assume much of that is to do with space available as well as climate differences. There they would be aiming to keep heat in, here we try to get airflow to cool things. I don't know how all that compares to housing in the US though.

KarmaPolice
04-06-2014, 11:48 AM
European houses are generally smaller, as we're a crowded continent where land prices are higher; UK houses are small even by those standards (and are shrinking!) Also, many of our houses are old; if I remember the statistic correctly, one third of our houses predate 1900 - and we've got bigger and healthier since then. Also, our standards have risen. Indoor plumbing. Lots of gizmos in the kitchen. Central heating. Kids having their own bedrooms. All of these can really eat into the floorspace of say a Victorian 'two-up, two-down' townhouse. Lastly, we in the UK usually build in sturdy materials - brick, stone and now concrete - even houses in the suburbs are made of these, rather than the wood-framed affairs favoured in Australia or the USA. Let me put it this way; if the Simpson's house was in Watford or Harlow, it would be worth £600,000 plus! (even after all of Homer's crap DIY)

Grand Designs? I've got a term for this - housing porn. For a more realistic view of UK housing, go onto YouTube and find 'Homes Under the Hammer' and it's ilk.

Mr Flibble
04-06-2014, 01:29 PM
Maybe I'm thinking of the wrong show? The one I've seen episodes of, they often want a great deal, but even if they get their house to sell, then tend to have budgets between 200-500k (sorry I don't have a pound symbol). So they show them crappy ones that are in the dream location, have the extra bedrooms etc, then show them more realistic ones in their price-range.

200k would be about $350kAUD which would be very bottom of the barrel housing (if that) in any of the bigger cities here.

The ones I've seen on that show tend to have half a million or so to play with (if we're thinking of the same show! Same name anyway) which is..er .. a lot.

Thing is, prices really vary between places. If you're moving out of say London, you can afford a LOT in the country. Which is a sore point among people who live in the country who then get priced out of living in their own area....

200k wouldn't get you a rabbit hutch in London which is where most of them seem to be coming from.

Akragth
04-06-2014, 03:23 PM
Maybe I'm thinking of the wrong show? The one I've seen episodes of, they often want a great deal, but even if they get their house to sell, then tend to have budgets between 200-500k (sorry I don't have a pound symbol). So they show them crappy ones that are in the dream location, have the extra bedrooms etc, then show them more realistic ones in their price-range.

200k would be about $350kAUD which would be very bottom of the barrel housing (if that) in any of the bigger cities here.

The big difference I notice between the houses they show and houses in Australia is how small everything appears. Lots of stooping to get through doorways, turning sideways to pass on stairs and in halls etc. I assume much of that is to do with space available as well as climate differences. There they would be aiming to keep heat in, here we try to get airflow to cool things. I don't know how all that compares to housing in the US though.

Housing in Australia is quite a bit more expensive, especially in the cities (though, UK city pricing can get a lot higher than 200k). But, almost everything in Australia is quite a bit more expensive thank the UK. A straight up currency conversion of the two prices doesn't tell the whole story, since wages in Australia are also quite a bit higher than the UK.

Trust me, as an Englishman living in Aus, the main difference I noticed is that Aussie houses tend to be one floor and sprawl outward a lot more, where English houses tend to go up rather than out.

No doubt it is indeed partially climate which is the reason for that, but Australia is a huge place with far more than enough land, so there's no reason to worry about finding space like there is in the UK.

Bolero
04-06-2014, 03:28 PM
Grand Designs - its filming building (or converting) your own house. Some have builders and architects, some have builders and project manage themselves, some are self-build. All are houses with something a bit different about them. So massive underground extension in the middle of London, or converting a 300 year old barn or a group of self-builders building an economy row of houses - a community neighbour effort.
The programme follows the build from start to finish - or start to whatever point they reach before the cut-off date for the series. Some projects get a second programme when they've actually finished it.....

skylark
04-06-2014, 08:16 PM
What made a house "desirable" when I was growing up (1970s):

downstairs toilet (as well as a bathroom with a toilet in it upstairs)
fitted carpets
a shower (not a rubber thing that you pushed onto the taps)
a bidet
a coloured bathroom suite
central heating
double glazing
a fitted kitchen
patio doors in the living room
not having an open fire

What made a house "desirable" when I was buying one (about 20 years ago):

"own drive" (rather than a shared one in between each pair of two houses)
having an en suite
a kitchen/diner rather than a tiny kitchen and separate dining room
having a shower AND a bath (not a shower over the bath)
NOT having fitted carpets (i.e. things like "exposed floorboards")
built in wardrobes in the bedrooms

(where the definition of "desirable" is "selling point for houses being marketed to non-super-rich housebuyers").

I have never seen a house with airconditioning (though we have it at work).

Unless you're very rich here or live somewhere extremely remote, plots of land are tiny. Our back garden is 25 feet by 80 feet. I know this because it was a major selling point for it to be so large. (Our house is about 22 feet wide - there's a 1foot gap down one side of the plot between it and the fence, and a 2 foot path down the other side between it and the next house.)

Bolero
04-06-2014, 09:10 PM
Unless you're very rich here or live somewhere extremely remote, plots of land are tiny. Our back garden is 25 feet by 80 feet. I know this because it was a major selling point for it to be so large. (Our house is about 22 feet wide - there's a 1foot gap down one side of the plot between it and the fence, and a 2 foot path down the other side between it and the next house.)

When we were house hunting (and finally found an ex-council semi with a back garden 56 feet by 100 feet long, with mature fruit trees), we had a real struggle with the estate agents who

a) Didn't understand what we meant by big back garden - they thought 20 feet square was generous.
b) Kept on talking up ones that didn't really have a big enough garden - saying to two keen gardeners who'd said they were keen gardeners - its the house that matters, this is a great house and its got a brand name kitchen too!

What we bought was a good solid house with generous rooms - and polystyrene tiles on every ceiling and decorated throughout in colour schemes from the 1970s and minimal central heating system run off a coal fired back boiler - bit on its last legs. We worked on the place, a bit at a time.
Great place to live. :)

ClareGreen
04-07-2014, 05:34 PM
One note to add to this is that a lot varies by location. Cellars were standard in Leeds red-brick terraces, in the places I was in at least; it was unusual not to have a cellar (with ubiquitous coal-hatch and assorted eight-legged wildlife). If the terraces had no garden there was a break every few houses for a communal concrete-floored brick-walled yard, and washing lines hung across the street at first-floor level. I lived in both back-to-back and through terraces (ie, terraces where there was a house on all three sides and terraces where you had a back door as well as a front one), and various ideas of 'garden' from 'door opens straight onto pavement' to 'little walled plot with a tree and stairs to the cellar door'.

In rural Wales, the cottage's living room was open to the stairs and landing. The multi-fuel stove was enough to warm the open area and put heat into the (metre-thick) walls, so if you got it toasty one day it'd stay warm for a day or two before you needed to add more warm. Needless to say, in summer we were gasping - and if we ran out of fuel in winter, we knew about it.

Also, responding to parent's angered shout of 'Were you born in a barn?' with 'No, just a hospital with swing doors' didn't go down well.