1960s houses: common defects – asbestos, condensation, wall ties, pitch fibre pipes

1960s houses are now around 50 to 60 years old.  Construction methods have improved since that time particularly with regard to thermal insulation and safety.

This article deals with just some of the defects commonly found in traditionally built houses built during the 1960s (some can also be found in houses of other decades).

 

Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) in 1960s houses

Asbestos containing materials (ACMs) were commonly used in buildings in the 1960s.  Common uses include:

  1. Textured coatings to walls and ceilings, including Artex. Some may have had an additional coating (or coatings) applied over the years.  In any one property there may be different finishes which may have been applied at different times.  It is possible that some may contain asbestos while others may not.
  2. Asbestos cement products including soffits, verge boards, corrugated roofs to garages, flue pipes, water tanks, cladding to walls/panels, gutters and downpipes, pipes, man-made slates.  Asbestos cement products at eaves level are sometimes hidden by new PVCu fascias and soffits.
  3. Vinyl floor tiles particularly to solid ground floors, often hidden below carpets or sheet flooring.
  4. Asbestos insulating board (AIB), loose fill insulation, lagging, sprayed coatings.

If any asbestos containing materials are damaged, or if any planned works, eg, drilling, sanding, cutting, are likely to disturb any ACMs then have sample/s tested for asbestos content and obtain advice from an asbestos contractor.    Most higher risk works must be carried out by a licensed contractor while other works may be undertaken by a non-licensed contractor.

Visit  http://www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/

 

High heat loss and condensation

1960s houses have walls which typically allow high heat loss compared to properties built to meet the requirements of current Building Regulations.  High heat loss not only results in higher heating bills, it leads to colder surfaces and often results in condensation.  Condensation isn’t just water running down windows.  Condensation can occur within the structure and on furnishings and it can lead to mould on affected surfaces.  In some instances, condensation can be reduced or avoided by increasing the level of heating and ventilation, but where surfaces are cold, eg, window reveals, corners of rooms, walls behind furniture and where cold bridging occurs, it can be difficult to eliminate completely.

High heat loss (and condensation) can be reduced by increasing insulation.  One popular method is to install cavity wall insulation.  However, not all properties are suitable for cavity wall insulation.  If you plan to buy a house with cavity wall insulation then check the property has been assessed by a CIGA registered installer to ensure it is suitable for cavity wall insulation.  Some properties may suffer rain penetration if they are not suitable for cavity wall insulation.   Following installation, the installer will apply for, and issue, a guarantee.  The CIGA guarantee can be passed on to subsequent owners of the property.  (Similarly, if you plan to install cavity wall insulation in your property then contact a CIGA registered installer to check the property is suitable first).

Visit https://ciga.co.uk/about-ciga/

Lack of safety glass

Some 1960s houses have large windows and glazed doors which incorporate low level glazing.  These houses predate the requirement under Building Regulations for glass in critical locations, eg, at low level, to be safety glass.  Full height or low level glazing which is not safety glass will break easily and this presents a danger to occupants, particularly children.  The glass can easily be upgraded by replacing with safety glass or by applying an adhesive safety film.

 

Wall tie corrosion

The inner and outer leafs of cavity walls are usually tied with wall ties.  Houses constructed in the 1960s were often built using galvanised steel wall ties.  The steel corrodes over time and can cause cracking and/or bowing.  While wall tie corrosion is more common in older properties this is becoming more common as housing of this era ages.  If there are any signs of wall tie corrosion the condition of the ties should be checked to see if additional wall ties need to be installed.

 

Pitch fibre pipes

Pitch fibre pipes were widely used in the 1960s.  They have a tendency to deform under the load of ground, walls, traffic, etc.  This can lead to blockage of the drains or settlement of any structures above the drain runs.  If you plan to buy a property with pitch fibre drains and suspect there may be a problem then it is a good idea to arrange a CCTV survey to check their condition and establish whether they require lining or replacing.

See also How much does a survey cost?  and  What should I do after having a survey?

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Easing the sale of your house

What can I do to ease the sale of my house?

What can I do to help the sale of my house?

After several viewings you have finally accepted an offer on your house.  You are most likely to be in a chain and do not wish to delay things.  The last thing you want at this stage is to lose your buyer which, in turn, might mean that you cannot proceed with the purchase of your new home as planned.  While you may not be able to speed up the process there may be some things you can do to make things go more smoothly and avoid delays at a later stage.

Get together any documents you have for works carried out to your property

You might ask, “What can I do to ease the sale of my house?”

  1. If you have had any works carried out which required Local Authority approvals such extensions which required Building Regulation Approval and/or Planning Permission, or any other works which required Building Regulation Approval, then make one copy of the documents to hand to your solicitor and keep a further copy for prospective purchasers to see. It is much easier if this information is available at the outset and will avoid delays at a later date.
  1. Get together any documents such as service documents for the central heating installation and any test certificates you may have for the electrical installation. If, say, you have had the central heating serviced regularly on a service contract then it is a good idea that your buyer knows that this has been done.  A property which has been maintained is much more attractive to a buyer.
  1. If any replacement windows or doors have been fitted then get together any receipts and warranties, including FENSA certificate/s.
  1. If cavity wall insulation has been installed to your property then forward a copy of the CIGA guarantee to your solicitor.

Above all, be honest. If the central heating hasn’t been serviced recently then the buyer will know to get this attended to.  Likewise, if any alterations have been carried out it is better that the buyer is aware of what has been done so they can have things checked if necessary.  In some cases where works have been carried out by a previous owner it is possible that there will be no such documentation.

See also Preparing Your House for Viewings

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