BISF House construction types are often referred to as types A, A1,B and type C which can cause confusion among BISF owners and housing market professionals alike. Most BISF houses across the country are variations of the mass-produced Type A1 house, so why do we hear references to other construction types?
We take a look at the lesser known construction types and see what part they played in BISF Construction history.
The post war 1940’s Government needed to build thousands of new houses quickly and efficiently and prefabricated and part pre-fabricated houses topped the agenda due to crippling material and labour shortages. The Government invited architects and designers to submit new designs for houses and attracted over 1400 entries. Architect, Sir Frederick Gibberd and Engineer, Donovan Lee put forward their prototype designs for a British Iron and Steel Federation sponsored House. Thousands of designs were reviewed and rejected, but the BISF house and several other design concepts impressed the housing review team.
In 1944 an experimental demonstration site was created in Edward Road, Northolt where a number of these new designs were to be constructed and reviewed. Gibberd and Lee produced three different prototypes on the site, each containing two semi-detached dwellings. These were BISF Types A, B and C, and only two of each type were ever built and can still be seen in Edward Road Northolt today.
The BISF Type A house above appears very similar to the more common Type A1 house that went into mass production across the country. The most obvious visual difference is the appearance of a bathroom window along side the standard landing window at the side elevation.
The BISF Type B above, is fitted with much wider bedroom windows to the first floor and a wider but shallower window to the ground floor compared to a typical Type A1 house. It also has an added bathroom window to the side elevation.
On first inspection the BISF Type C house above looks very similar to the Type A house but on closer examination you will see that the large front windows are actually constructed from two separate units. There is a central support column in place which prevents the installation of a larger one-piece unit. This property also has a bathroom window to the side elevation. Note also that there is no visible brick chimney stack, the flue is constructed from a cast iron and supported by the buildings frame.
All of the original prototypes benefitted from the addition of a second bathroom window.
The most commonly produced BISF production house was the Type A1 seen above. These houses were constructed using widely differing materials across the country. Room layouts have been changed as have fireplace locations and construction types with some being of brick and others incorporating a cast iron flue. Side exit doors and windows to the properties vary as does the construction design and material type of any associated outbuildings.
Perhaps the most surprising production build of the British Iron and Steel Federation was the BISF Terraced house.
These houses are far less common than the standard A1 produced house. The internal rolled steel frames used in construction were ideal for terraced builds as the frames could be bolted together to form one long run of properties containing any number of dwellings. This method offered considerable savings in materials as each block required only two end elevation walls and cladding panels to complete the build.
In summary BISF Types A, B and C were only ever built as experimental concept designs and never mass produced.
Often mortgage lenders and insurers list these house types but in reality only two of each of these properties have ever existed. The listing these more obscure house types may be of benefit to the residents of Edward Road Northolt but has little relevance to the BISF housing market itself. This only further demonstrates a considerable lack of knowledge and understanding with this much loved Non-Traditional house.