Looking For Information on The Hills Presweld House

Looking For Information on The Hills Presweld House 1
hills presweld house, non standard mortgage, construction type.
Hills Presweld House

Hi, We are in the process of buying an End of Terrace Hills Presweld property.  It is a 1950 Hills Steel Frame with Brick build. The mortgage lender has agreed to lend money on this property, however I have been trying to find more information online on this particular type of property and there isn’t any available as such. I also contacted BRE for more information, however they don’t entertain inquiries from individuals.


I have asked for a Homebuyers survey on the property, which is due at the end of the month.  In the meantime, wondering if anyone can help me with more information and specifically with below:

  • 1.  Is this type of construction suitable & durable in the long-term, i.e. for 200 – 250 years?
  • 2.  What would a typical wall structure / composition of layers be?
  • 3.  Is cavity insulation for retaining heat possible in these properties, and would the Government scheme cover it for free / discounted insulation?
  • 4.  How energy efficient are these properties?
  • 5.  What are the risks of deterioration in the structure?
  • 6.  Can traditional brick & mortar extensions / loft conversions be added to these kinds of properties?
  • 7.  Would these properties sell at a discount compared to a traditionally constructed property?  If yes, how much would it typically be discounted by?

Hope someone has answers to at least some of these!




  1. Hi, I am also looking to buy a Hills Presweld house. This is in Harrow. End of Terrace Property. This has been recently extended on its side as well as fully refurbished. My question is if this house has gone through recent extension, this would have been possible after checking the existing steel frames structurally good? Is this a good indication that this property is in good condition?

  2. Dear Marc,

    Thanks a TON for the invaluable advise and you time.
    I have asked for the invasive structural survey. Not sure if the vendor will allow to drill a hole in the wall for the invasive survey.
    If you can recommended some structural engineer with experience of HILLS / BISF houses that will be great. I have found 2 on RICS website, but they have to refer the manuals etc.

    Many thanks


  3. Dear All,

    I was told by agent that its a BISF house but on doing the survey the BANK refused to lend on it.
    They mentioned its a “Hills House". But the 2nd Bank has approved the lending on it.

    My question is – Is the valuation of the BISF and HILLS house is same ?

    I am better off getting the Hills house at the cost of BISF?

    Please advise it so confusing and no information.

    Many Thanks


    1. Hi Vicky
      Can you tell me, does your house look like the property above?
      The reason that I ask is that there are several variants of houses built by Hills West Bromwich, also known as Hills Patent Glazing.
      Some of the steel frames fare better than others as some are known to suffer from severe corrosion such as the Hillcon house built by Hills, this would obviously have an impact on the value of the house.
      As for a comparison between the value of a BISF house and a Hills House, it’s impossible to compare the two, other than to say both are steel framed, non-standard built properties and as such, they will probably sell at a lower price than a comparable traditional brick house of the same size.

      Just to clarify, are you saying that the asking price or valuation for the property has remained the same, even though you have now discovered it’s a Hills House and not a BISF House ?

      1. Dear Site Admin,

        Thanks a lot for the reply.
        Yes please, the house looks very similar to the property above. Except it has tiles outside on the walls. Attaching the picture of it. I tried creating a new port yesterday but failed.

        Yes please the valuation of the property is still the same. Both Vendor and agent are silent on it. Do you think HILLS house should be of lower valuation?
        Assuming both are at same location and all same.

        Many thanks


        1. Hi Vicky
          Firstly, I would stress that I would strongly advise that you undertake a full and invasive structural survey when buying a Hills house as there could be substantial underlying hidden defects that will not be found in a basic ‘homebuyers’ type of survey.

          In my own personal view, I would value a BISF property higher than a Hills Presweld. It’s worth remembering that only around 600 Hills Presweld homes were ever built compared to over 36,000 BISF homes, meaning most issues that could arise probably already have with a BISF house.
          Also because the Hills is rarer, it may make it difficult to find an experienced surveyor or builder to remedy any defects that could arise in the future.
          As for pure value, I can only suggest looking up sold prices in the street that you wish to buy in and compare these with the sold prices of BISF houses that may be nearby, you can do this on Rightmove.

          I doubt if you will find any significant difference in values between these two build types, but I personally would want to pay less for a Hills house over a BISF house but that’s only my opinion.

          I also think it would be far easier to sell a BISF house in the future too as for me there are simply too many unknown variables and potential problems that could arise with a Hills house. It’s a little like buying a brand of car that nobody has heard of and nothing puts off buyers more.

          I’m sorry I can’t give you a more definitive answer, in part because there isn’t a clear answer. It’s not as simple as valuing a Ford against a Vauxhall so to speak.
          If you decide to buy the Hills property, please make sure you obtain a full and invasive survey, no only to protect your invest but it can also be a powerful bargaining tool if problems are found.

  4. Hello Jasmine
    As you have no doubt already noticed, there is very little general information available regarding these properties.

    However I am currently in the process of researching data for you regarding this particular build type which includes a number of Freedom of Information Requests to Sandwell Council who posses a large number of these properties.

    From the information gleaned so far, I understand that the houses were built as permanent structures and not as temporary units like so many post war houses.
    The expected lifespan of any property is of course variable dependent upon the structural integrity of the frame. Should the property be well maintained and the steel frame is in good condition, there should be no reason why it will not have a similar lifespan to a traditional brick house, but of course a full invasive survey of the property would be required to confirm this.

    The walls of these houses were constructed using different materials from house to house or area to area, as the were built as standard semi detached and terraced dwellings. The BRE lists the following information:-
    2-storey semi-detached and terraced houses. Steep pitch gable roof covered with interlocking tiles or
    PRC scalloped tiles. External walls of brick, rendered block, roughcast no-fines concrete or PC panels throughout.
    Tile hanging to gable apex of some brick clad houses. Terraced houses have ginnel access to rear.
    PS door and window surrounds. Flat PC or pitched tile canopy over front door.

    They are known to suffer from superficial corrosion of steel lattice stanchions, particularly at bases where the stanchions join the foundation slab.
    They also witnessed vertical cracking to the no-fines concrete, external walling.
    But generally the galvanised components that they examined were fond to be in good condition.

    The BRE also lists the following information under construction.

    Substructure: Concrete trenchfill incorporating ground floor slab [1]. DPC. Frame: 20 steel lattice stanchions [2], 6 steel lattice floor joists [3], 1 double RSA mock joist [4], 5 RSA perimeter ties [5], 6 steel lattice trusses and 1 RSA mock truss, see frame layout [A].
    Protective coating: Galvanised or red oxide and black bituminous paint.
    External walls: Brick and block cavity [6]. Block in roof space. PS door and window surrounds.
    Separating wall: 9″ brick, 9″ block in roof space. Partitions: 9″ brick single storey spine wall, remainder 2″ block.
    Ground floor: Concrete.
    First floor: Timber boarding on battens.
    Ceilings: Plasterboard on battens.
    Roof: Bituminous felt, timber battens and interlocking tiles.
    Some steel components galvanised.
    Roughcast no-fines concrete external walls.
    Rendered no-fines concrete block external walls.
    External walls of PRC panels, cavity, fibreboard on timber battens.
    Glass fibre insulation in cavity. Woodwool slab linings.
    Ground floor of timber boarding on battens bedded in concrete.
    Roof cover of PRC scalloped tiles.

    In general with most steel framed properties, extensions can be added but loft conversions can be more problematic, not only because of the pitch of the roof often being on the shallow side but the main concern is the increased weight that would be added to the steel frame. This increases load bearing to levels that the steel frame was never designed to carry.

    In general most non traditional dwellings that are not classed as defective, tend to sell at around 10 – 15% lower values than traditional properties, however with the BISF House we have seen this price disparity reduce somewhat in recent years, partly due to education, that not all non traditional properties are inherently bad.

    I have no data at present on U values etc but you can purchase a BRE report from this link http://www.brebookshop.com/details.jsp?id=327242

    The file is an instant 16 page digital download and states :

    Please note that this is a scanned copy of a paper originally published in 1991, so the text is not as clear as in documents created as pdf files.
    This report records the form of construction of Hills Presweld dwellings, identifies positions where deterioration has occurred, and highlights areas where surveyors should pay particular attention when carrying out an inspection. The system is also known as ‘Presweld’, ‘Hills’ or ‘Hilcon’.

    I hope this helps and I shall shall be publishing a more in depth report on the Hills Presweld house and it’s history in due course.


    1. Hi Marc,

      Thank you for the information you have provided. It will definitely be very useful once I understand all the architectural terms :-) . I look forward to your detailed report on Hills Presweld houses and its history. Hoping the homebuyers survey will come out all clean and clear. Since we plan to have this as our family home for the next few decades at least, hopefully we are making the right choice by going for a steel frame, non-traditional property.

      Once again, thanks for the info.