We all have to have a roof over our heads don’t we? Most of us are lucky that we have, but is it a house or a home?
A house provides shelter for us and our family but a home provides much more. Walking towards your house/home after working all day, is it an attractive prospect or is it just somewhere to get out of the rain and sit down? The reason I ask is that so often you get the wrong advice usually from people who benefit out of it.
I have recently moved to Swansea where there are some lovely little terraced cottages – my wife and I have bought one – with stone walls, a slated roof (someone was given bad advice and put tiles on ours!), chimneys, timber sash and casement windows, flagstone path, good quality timber door, etc., etc. But I see whole rows which have been covered in beige cement roughcast, whole streets of them, all the same.
Hardly any chimneys remain in some streets with uPVC windows and doors, concrete paths, totally devoid of their original character. A terrace near to us was stripped of its old cement render and the stonework exposed. I had high hopes of it being repointed in lime mortar and shining but, no, beige cement roughcast accompanied the uPVC windows and removal of the chimney stack so we now have a faceless roughcast box in its place.
Why does this happen?
I suppose that it’s partly an effort to modernise but does that mean that the original fabric should be forgotten or hidden as if it’s something to be ashamed of?
Original/traditional features like timber windows or chimneys are in poor condition. MAINTENANCE SAVES MONEY. It seems that very few of you can be bothered decorating your windows or doors and would rather lose that part of your homes history and character by replacing these troublesome features with plastic, which, I must add, also need replaced after about 10 years. The wooden windows you just got rid of probably lasted for the previous 100 or more… So, would it have been worth decorating or repairing them? Everything can be repaired. Chimneys may no longer be used. IF they are repaired correctly there is no reason they will give you any problems for decades or longer and it helps prevent your home from becoming just a house.
You are asking the wrong question of the wrong person. I have mentioned this before but, if you ask a double glazing salesman if you need windows – guess the answer. If you ask a builder if you need building work done, he’ll no doubt find some like removing your chimney or covering your stonework up with beige cement roughcast from the apparently never-ending supply.
The lack of importance of traditional/original features in the community. What sets out an historic town centre from a modern one, how do peoples feelings change towards them? Do you enjoy trips to an historic town with different shops and building styles or prefer 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s flat-roofed or concrete slab-fronted buildings with no soul? You probably are mixed but aesthetically, the craftsmanship of the old must win out.
The local authority has some responsibility for this by allowing or not preventing these changes. And it’s not just the aesthetic and historic value, these features have an intrinsic value and usefulness. Chimneys, even if there isn’t a useable fireplace, can provide ventilation. This is vital for human health, reduces condensation and the risk of some chest complaints, improves air quality and the movement of air in the chimney will help keep it dry.
Sash and casement windows are known as being draughty but this again is good for you and your home, maybe no so good for your heating bills though. Maybe you should expect to be wearing a jumper indoors in the winter and not flip-flops and shorts like my son used to. Old windows can be draught-proofed and double glazed units can be fitted to the same frames however double-glazing salesmen are NEVER going to offer you that option.
If you have a limited budget, as most of us have, it is cheaper to refurbish, repair, mend, decorate, fix, etc., than it is to replace, short and long-term. There is as much value and a great deal more social history in your terraced cottage than there is in the Colosseum or Buckingham Palace so, how about taking some free advice and please consider the consequences of removing something that helps make your house into a home. Or even calling for some advice or to discuss a survey.