Improving house's facade

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Improving house's facade

Post by Londonterrace » Mon 30th Nov, 2020 3:10 pm

Hi everyone,

I'm back for some more advice; this time on tackling the ruined front of my house, please. I've posted this before - my house (at the end of the terrace) and the neighbour:
streetview.JPG (84.74 KiB) Viewed 529 times
(It has been painted and lost one set of prison bars since the streetview photo so is 5% less awful. Just 95% left to go!)

Underneath the paint is pebbledash.

Restoring the bay seems straightforward enough, if £££. I presume I need to get sash windows made, mullions and a sill cast, and a builder to put it together.

The upstairs is trickier. One option is to try and put it back as it would have been, which would probably look best. However, the bricks that would have been between the two sashes have presumably been lost (unless I'm lucky and they were used to brick up the gap where the sash above the door would have been...). Would any attempt at reclaimed bricks stick out like a sore thumb?
Also the big window, whilst hideous externally, is very nice to look out of whilst sitting in bed of a morning avoiding DIY.

I'm also nervous about whether pulling off the pebbledash will ruin the bricks beyond repair. The pebbledash doesn't seem to be causing any damp problems at the moment (although perhaps that will come as it fails..) so pulling it all off only to have to rerender in lime seems a shame and a huge expense.
And presumably if you remove render you always need to repoint afterwards?

So the other option I can think would be to keep the pebbledash and replace the upstairs window with a similar one, although taller (to match the height of the sashes next door) and a better match style-wise.

Any opinions/other options gratefully received!

Also, I can't really afford hardwood windows and would love to avoid plastic. I've seen a company advertising engineered softwood windows as more weather-resistant. Is this true? Is it mad to install pine windows?

It's very much not a posh neighbourhood so expensive windows and lime render are not going to be valued when we sell.

I'll be getting a new front door.

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Re: Improving house's facade

Post by CliffordPope » Mon 30th Nov, 2020 3:14 pm

Give up and buy a different house.

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Re: Improving house's facade

Post by Feltwell » Mon 30th Nov, 2020 6:18 pm

It's criminal what's been done to that house, but you can improve it I'm sure. First off though, give up hope of taking the render off and it being good underneath - it's clearly been massively hacked about, accept the fact that it wlll be a mess and is best covered up. It would be a huge job and very expensive to get it back to how it looked originally.

Budget option? Paint the pebbledash, paint the UPVC windows, get the garden wall rendered and painted or knock it down and put a painted wooden fence up to tie in with the neighbours, get rid of the prison bars, sort out the front garden and the side gate, find somewhere else for the bins, change the front door, get rid of the satellite dish.

Middle option? As above but new windows as well. To be honest, you may as well go for modern UPVC or aluminium windows. You can get slim-profile coloured ones which look far better than the dreaded cheap chunky white UPVC.

Better again? Separate out the upstairs windows to match next door, rebuild a bay to match, sash windows in, take pebbledash off and smooth render in lime.

Too expensive to be worth it option? Strip pebbledash off, find out how knackered the original bricks are, source reclaimed and reconstruct it all how it originally looked with wooden windows custom made.

If you're not in a great area anyway I think I'd be tempted to go with option 1 or 2, sell it on to someone who doesn't care about original features (there's lots of them out there), pocket the increase in value and look for somewhere that's been less abused and is a better starting point. Sorry!

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Re: Improving house's facade

Post by Zebra » Mon 30th Nov, 2020 10:26 pm

To answer your question about windows my windows are softwood, but a decent softwood, Douglas Fir, not pine. Went in 8 years ago so not much of a tale to tell, but all is well. Cost £3500 to have them made by a local joiner, four windows, probably averaging the size of your upstairs one.

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Re: Improving house's facade

Post by LadyArowana » Mon 30th Nov, 2020 10:34 pm

A radical approach might be necessary.... https://www.brightonandhoveindependent. ... al-1143868

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Re: Improving house's facade

Post by StripyCat » Tue 1st Dec, 2020 7:46 am

What's the area like and is it your 'forever home?' That should decide how much to spend.

I think I'd reinstate 2 windows upstairs in uPVC and sort the bay out. Then either render or possibly external insulation over the pebbledash.

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Re: Improving house's facade

Post by Flyfisher » Tue 1st Dec, 2020 4:54 pm

That is such a sad photo and a masterclass in how to ruin a perfectly lovely house, especially with the constant reminder next door. I applaud the OP for taking it on and I'm sure they can improve it significantly.

I think StripeyCat's questions are very relevant. All things are possible but sometimes not worthwhile, even before considering the cost. Rebuilding the bay window and replacing the upper window will still leave the painted facade, which is the jarring thing for me. I think I'd be tempted to try removing a small area of render in the hope that the underlying brickwork could be largely undamaged, though even as I write that I know I'm grasping at straws. Such a shame.

As for the windows, if bespoke ones are required then there may not be a huge difference in price between hard and soft wood. As for weather resistance, softwood frames should be perfectly good for 20 years or so if they are properly cared for, so I wouldn't be too concerned about going that route if the intention is to renovate and move on.

Assuming the house was once identical to the one next door, it's astounding that someone went to a lot of effort to demolish such a lovely bay window and replace it with that new 'design'.
Who was it who said "there's nowt as strange as folk"?

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Re: Improving house's facade

Post by Feltwell » Tue 1st Dec, 2020 5:41 pm

I think it was "nowt so queer as folk" back from when that had a different meaning!

I wish I could find it, *ages* ago (I'm talking 10 years or so I reckon) someone put a picture on here of an Edwardian semi that was just horrific. 1 side was lovely, ornate brickwork, sash windows, fancy woodwork, and in great condition - a real testament to it's owner, totally original and just a well balanced and detailed design to begin with. The other side had been butchered beyond belief - all the original window openings altered, nasty 1970's aluminium double glazing, pebbledash over everything (and in poor condition at that), honestly it looked like a very grotty 1960's box of a house that hadn't been touched since the day it was built.

I suppose there is the potential here that Londonterrace's house never matched next door as it was a later addition to the end of the terrace - the chimney stack makes me think that's not the case though and it was built at the same time. I suspect if the render is removed you'd find blockwork used for the alterations. The render has been put on to hide something. I guess you have to think back to the days when Victorian houses were deeply dated & unfashionable and "modernising" both inside & outside to make your house look like the latest 1960's box was the trendy thing to do. My mother still can't comprehend why we bought this place - big old draughty Victorian house that needs lots of work and will still always be cold (in her mind at least!), why the hell would we want that?

I've had to dissuade my neighbours (other half of my semi) away from the delights of UPVC *again* this year. I'm pleased to say they went with getting a joiner in to repair & double glaze their non-original, but wooden and in a similar style to the original, sashes. I fear it's only a matter of time though.

There is a lovely Victorian villa with big Dutch gable ends and a lot of decorative stonework a few doors down from me - lovely details inside as well, beautiful Minton tiled hallway for example. They had the most horrific UPVC windows though, totally different to the original style and fitted in the wrong place - flush to the front face of the brickwork rather than behind it like the original sashes would have been, it meant the bottom of the UPVC window stuck out over the original shaped cills. Lord knows why they had them fitted like that, all I can think was in order to get an internal window cill big enough to put things on, like in a modern house.

Anyway the current owners must agree because the horrible windows, which were in good condition, have just been replaced - but - with shiny white UPVC sashes that are *still* fitted in the wrong place and still look cr@p as a result. :roll:

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