Classic Victorian houses in London

With intricately patterned brickwork, angled bay windows and fireplaces in every room, it’s no surprise that Victorian homes are a popular choice in the UK. It’s unlikely that we need to tell you the benefits of investing in Victorian architecture, but just in case, here is a quick list of reasons why house-hunters are so often drawn to properties from this period:

  • Striking curb-appeal
  • Well-proportioned rooms
  • High ceilings
  • Classic sash windows
  • Original wooden floorboards
  • Spacious attics

Our team of Chartered Surveyors visit a lot of Victorian homes, each with its own particular details and unique sense of character. In most cases, the design and construction of these homes have stood the test of time exceedingly well, however, it’s not uncommon to find that when problems do appear, they can be pretty substantial.

Below, we’ve listed the most common problems found in Victorian property. It’s always worth looking out for these defects when you view the home, and commissioning a Building Survey to uncover any less-obvious issues before you commit to a purchase.

1 – Sash Windows

Many Victorian homes still feature their original sash windows, proving that they can last well over a century with proper maintenance. If a home has suffered a slightly negligent owner, you may find that the windows become draughty or the mechanism no longer works. You may need to hire a specialist repair team to restore damaged windows to their former glory.

Installing UPVC double-glazing is also a wise move, as they will maintain the character of the original building while saving you a considerable amount on your energy bills. You may struggle to do this if the property has listed status – check whether UPVC installation has already been approved if so.

2 – Ceilings

High ceilings are lovely, but they can make it difficult to conduct any repairs or even touch-up the paintwork without calling a professional with a long ladder. You will often see cracks in the ceilings of properties this age, which may be superficial ‘spiderweb’ cracks, or symptoms of a more troubling (and expensive) problem with the structural joists.

3 – Original Timbers

If your original wooden floors bounce or squeak underfoot it’s a sign that the supporting timbers may be rotten. Make sure all original wood is inspected for woodworm and rot, which can be extremely expensive to repair once you move in.

4 – Attics

The huge loft spaces in Victorian homes are prime for a family’s worth of storage, or even converting into an extra bedroom when you need the space. Look out for homes which already have electricity and/or water running into their lofts, which will make a renovation far less costly in the long run.

On the downside, it’s not unusual for these spaces to be badly insulated and there isn’t always even felt under the battens (the wooden struts keeping tiles in place).

5 – General Structure

It tends to be that if there are defects in Victorian homes, they’re not a straightforward fix. Other common issues include old wiring that doesn’t comply with building regulations, problems with the damp-proof course and the presence of historic lead piping.

For this reason, it’s really important that you hire a professional surveyor who can find potentially expensive issues before you agree to purchase. A Building Survey will not only make you aware of existing and potential problems with the house, but will also provide advice about the best way to repair damage and maintain unusual features – with cost estimates included. This information will help you negotiate a fair price with the vendor and ensure that you can enjoy your Victorian home for many years to come.

If you would like a free quote for a Building Survey for a Victorian property in London or Essex, contact our team today.