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Historic non-traditional houses

The term ‘non-traditional housing’ may be used to describe all the various methods of house building that have moved away from the traditional ‘bricks and mortar’. As far as concrete is concerned, many different systems have been developed over the years, using combinations of precast and in-situ concrete. In some cases, many thousands of units have been built; examples include Airey, Cornish and Reema houses. In other cases only a few prototypes were constructed.

Some have been successful while others suffer from basic design faults. BRE (the Building Research Establishment) was commissioned by the Government in the early 1980s to assess a range of house types whose condition was causing concern, and a number of detailed reports were published. Owners of such houses were entitled to government assistance for a 10-year period from 1984. Houses subject to this assistance were covered by a so-called PRC Certificate. Information is now held by NHBC, who can be contacted for information on a particular property.

BRE has recently published Non-traditional houses: Identifying non-traditional houses in the UK 1918–75. This covers metal framed and timber framed houses as well as concrete. 450 housing types are covered in detail, with brief information on a further 230. For each main type there is an isometric drawing that provides a clear explanation of the construction details, which will significantly help to diagnose problems and issues.

The publication comes with a CD ROM to help identify houses by type, local authority, construction class, identifying characteristics or by any combination of these. It also includes 6 Government reports on non-traditional housing.

Further reading: Clarke, N., Non-traditional concrete houses, Concrete, Vol. 39, No. 3, March 2005, pp 40–41, available from the Members area of the Society web-site.

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Acknowledgement: BRE

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