What home improvements have you made?

What Home Improvements Have You Made in Your Home?

We Know that BISF home owners are passionate and resourceful when it comes to home improvements.

We want to know what you yourself have done to improve or renovate your BISF home!

Share your thoughts, ideas and designs with us a BISF House and get valuable feedback from other members of our site.

You can easily upload photographs, show of your work or even share before and after shots. If you’re feeling really creative you even create your very own post and upload images of your project for others to see.

You can also discuss any problems or concerns that may have in fact you can share any aspect of BISF home improvement on the internets only dedicated BISF Website.

We know how hard it can be to find reliable and resourceful information relating to this type of property.

By sharing your projects, you will be helping to create a one stop information and resource database for other owners facing similar projects. You will also receive valuable advice from other members that can prove invaluable to any BISF property owner.

Responses

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  1. Why not get members to post flyers through the letterboxes of their local BISF houses? This website has got great potential as a helpful and innovative resource, it just needs a greater amount of input from BISF home owners all over the UK.

  2. I agree Denton, we do need more input from other BISF owners as after all it is for the benefit of us all.

    I have a couple of mail drops planned for areas gathered from Google Mapping, it can be a bit hit and miss but as the site is still so new I am confident that the user base will grow in time.

    Thank you also for your comments, It makes all the hard work worthwhile!

    Marc

  3. We have knocked our wall down in the living room and it made a massive difference.
    The wall itself came down pretty easily and as it wasn’t load bearing no other support was needed.
    I think having a porch too though is a must as it stops the draught coming in and stops people seeing straight into the living room. :0)

  4. Hi

    I bought my house from council a few years ago and I want to start and do renovations to my house. Has anybody ever knocked down the wall in the passage to the sitting room?

  5. Thanks Teresa, we have already knocked our wall down in Kitchen/Dining area. Which made a big difference. Dont have a porch tho, maybe put that on my list too 😀

    1. Hey Sharon, do you have any piccies of your removed wall in the Kitchen and dining room?

      Would love to see them if you have.

      Teresa

  6. Does anyone have the external dimensions of a BISF house? I’m looking to create a sketchup model which I will upload and share.

    By the way, where did the forum go?

  7. Hi Denton
    I don’t have any specific dimensions available yet sadly. I spent most of last week trying to load sketchup on my laptop but it had a capatibility issue with the Indel R HD graphics built in to my machine. I hope you have better luck.
    The only image I have that may help shows the building frame but offers no measurements.
    I hope it helps.

  8. I have these plans which I think are pretty standard. They are in pdf format – I will try and uploads them.

    HandedBISFHouseOrginalPlans1 Page 1
  9. I bought my BISF house in November and have been gutting it since Xmas.
    I’ve removed all the walls and all the old insulation which had all slipped. the walls downstairs were plasterboard but which fibreboard upstairs. The house is pretty much just a steel frame and cladding with a few floorboards left!! Scary Stuff!!
    I’m hoping to install bi-folding doors in the dining room – if anybody has experience of installing doors in place of the window i’d love to hear. I have pvc cladding and not sure how the doors will be fixed.
    I have a few photos that I will upload when i get chance.

    1. Great set of plans Alexandra, I have few sets of similar original plans by Frederick Gibberd one of the original Architects and another set due to arrive from the National Archives any day now. It will be interesting to see the differences if any.

      Thank you so much for sharing yours with us, I will have a good look through them when I get a spare minute as currently I’m wading through a pile of BISF reseach material and the hours are just flying by.

  10. That plan is very interesting, where did you get it from? Apart from the outhouse, it’s identical to mine right down to the meter cupboard.

    Your outhouse though is completely different to mine, which has a corridor/alleyway through it.

    Many of the BISF houses here in Bath have had the wall below the dining room window removed in order to fit sliding doors of the same width, so I don’t believe it’s too much of a problem.

    Here’s a downstairs plan of my house in which you can see the outhouse layout. It’s an estate agent diagram so it’s not accurate like yours eg the fireplace is exactly like in your plan in reality but hasn’t been drawn properly in the estate agent diagram.

    1. I have installed bi-folds inside one of my properties leading into the dining room but to do so I did enlarge the door frame so that it would accomodate 3 sections of bi-fold panels.
      I do have a photograph that I can dig out.

      Fitting patio doors is pretty easy in place of the existing dining room windown.
      If I recall correctly as it was a few years ago I simply removed the old Crittall Hope windows and frame. The galvanized protruding surround was bolted in place onto steel stanchions which run down each side of the window opening. I cut the bolts loose and the frame comes out easily. In order to create a nice clean cut in the external render down to floor level I used an angle grinder with a good quality multi purpose blade. I then made a vertical cut into the render down to floor level keeping it in line with the window opening above.

      The rest was plain sailing. The gap was measured and the doors were fitted.
      A liitle bit of tidying up was needed around the frame but I did all the work myself saving on labour costs.

      It does make a huge difference though to the feel of the room.

  11. A friend of the family had carried out work on a few BISF houses and had acquired the plans along the way somewhere. They are from a different development to mine and handed but they have been very useful. I’ve also produced sketches in AutoCad which I’ve changed to metres, I can upload those if they are of any use to anybody.
    Thanks for the info on the door – I have spoken to a few suppliers and they were not keen on knocking out so at least I know what to ask for now.
    My outhouse is brick so I think these may have been modernised later on.
    I have a few photos, shall i upload them here or is there somewhere else you’d prefer??

  12. My dad suggests placing plasterboard on top of the fibreboard upstairs, attached by dot and dab, before skimming it. My instinct is to remove the fibreboard first, so it would be like boarding a newly built wall. What are peoples thoughts on this?

  13. Just received the keys for a BISF house in Sheldon and it would appear to have plasterboard throughout. I think I recall the estate agent mentioning that the property next door had plasterboard throughout as well. It all looks pretty original, do we know if any were built like this or is it more likely to have been plastered some time after construction?

    Also, it doesn’t have the windows above the internal panelled doors that I’ve seen elsewhere and has a pair of cupboards on the bedroom side of the bathroom wall (which is where the boiler has been installed).

  14. Here a few pictures, as promised.

    My grandparents live in a local ‘traditional’ 30’s semi, and have done for 50-60 years – I’ll ask if they remember when their local BISF’s went up.

    Apologies about the pics, the old Galaxy S2’s sensor seems to yellow the whites somewhat. I’ll get proper shots tomorrow.

    Rear bedroom:

    Hallway – never seen a sliding door like that. I’ll replace it, instead of changing my name to Spock:
    Front bedroom:

    Hallway :
    Lounge:

    1. Hi Denton, congratulations!

      The house was designed for plasterboard throughout but when they came to build them there was a shortage of plasterboard and they relaxed the rules to allow hardboard to be used instead upstairs. Perhaps your house was built before the plasterboard shortage developed or perhaps it has been done later?

      Mine is plasterboard downstairs and hardboard upstairs.

      I would think the glazing was removed later above the windows, as it’s something people seem to like to remove, though I think it gives more interest and a lighter and airier feel.

      I’d be interested if you could post some photos as I’m interested in the original details like internal doors, built-in cupboards, staircase etc.

      1. I didn't like the idea either, so in the end I stripped all the hardboard off the walls and the strange spongy fibreboard off the ceiling too to reboard them with plasterboard.

    2. Congratulations Denton!

      I don’t think you will be dissapointed, I bought my house three years ago and there is so much that you can do to them it’s brilliant.

      It can be daunting at first but just take each room one step at a time.

      I wish you every success in your new home.

      Sindy x

      1. Hi Ed,

        Thanks :). I will return to the property later with a handy wallpaper scraper and a tub of paint so I’ll be happy to take a few pictures.

  15. Spent a bit of time on the smaller bedroom over the weekend. It's the first room to be renewed before I move in, so it's vital I get it done ASAP. As a result, I'll skip any remedial work such as removing walls and adding insulation and revisit this room in the future.

    This is the only before picture I have, taken around 5 months ago:

    The colour scheme reminds me of a war room, the floor boards are a deep brown (the camera phone hasn't reproduced the colours correctly):


    I have filled over the exposed wood to the sides of the window:

    This is the corner of the room at the corner of the house, it had been papered over:


    I found this etched into the plasterboard underneath the window. It's really small, but it's there:

    1. Hi Marc,

      Rear Bedroom

      Yes that is correct. The boiler cupboard backs onto the bathroom but I'm not sure if the bathroom is smaller than other BISF houses. From the pictures Ed has uploaded, it looks as though the front and rear bedrooms are smaller. The doors to both rooms are in line with the dividing wall of the little front room, making for a large square hallway.

      With regards to the cupboards/bathroom – the estate agent said that in many local BISF houses he had seen, the bathroom had been knocked into the cupboard space.

      Hallway

      Yes that is correct. The small door is a cupboard, and the section at the top looks as though it once held some sort of water tank. The sliding door does save space in the bathroom, but as it has been converted into a "wet room" that isn't so important. I want to remove the little cupboard and replace it with a doorway to the bathroom so that the door swing doesn't take up so much room (that's when the time comes to replace the bathroom).

      Lounge

      I can't see any pipework around the fireplace. I forgot to mention that all the downstairs doors are sliding doors – no idea if they are original or fitted afterwards.

      Yes, the flue is brick built and against the party wall, and yes the upstairs fireplace is also on the party wall. There aren't any fitted cupboards on the front/rear bedroom dividing wall, which is also different to other BISF houses I have seen.

      It would be nice to see what the Scotland BISF's are like inside as they also have the brick built chimney.

      1. Hi Denton
        What a very interesting set of images.(I have resized them for you and removed some of the yellowing)

        Rear Bedroom
        It has been a long time since I have see original fitted cupboards in the rear bedroom in fact I’m still trying to figure out the location of the boiler cupboard. As there is a door on the left hand side, does the boiler cupboard back onto the bathroom and if so does it take up any room in there?

        Hallway
        I would imagine that the sliding door allows for quite a bit more room in the bathroom. I have never seen that small panneled area by the side of the sliding door before. Is it another cupboard?

        Front Bedroom
        Now this is a first for me. A fireplace in the front bedroom and it looks original too!

        Lounge
        This also appears to be fitted with another original fireplace but not one that I am familiar with. Most were fitted with coal fired back boilers, can you see any remnants of old pipework around the sides of the fireplace.

        I can see by the location of the living room fireplace that it is mounted against the party wall so am I right to assume that you have a brick built flue and chimney?
        If that is the case then I assume that the bedroom fireplace is also mounted on the first floor party wall along with the cupboards too.

        Are there any storage cupboards in your house Denton that are located on the front and rear bedroom dividing wall?

        Your images have revealed some surprising variations, thank you so much for sharing them.

        Marc

  16. We started the renovation of the living room and 3rd bedroom last year. Built an alcove for the plasma, designer ceiling etc. Waiting for refinance to replace roof n cladding and complete internals to bring up to 2012 stardards…kingspan and 15mm thick plasterboard etc. Walls feel very solid now.

    1. Wow, that really does look like a war room! I quite like the colour combination, but definitely not suitable for a bedroom!

      Mine has a large built-in cupboard over the stairs that looks as though it has been added later (it sits on top of and flush with that corner that is just poking into your second photo, near the radiator). Below are two drawers that may be original.

      Is that a wooden strip in the corner? All my rooms have one, it's the same as the one at the ceiling/wall interface and at picture rail height too.

  17. I’ve got the hardboard downstairs and up (I’m in South Wales). Originally there was a wooden strip which went around all the rooms (a bit like dado rail) but the council took it out. The only thing with that is that the boards move more easily and cracks can appear, the bedrooms have it the worst.

    Out side my back door there is a toilet and old coal shed with a roof bit covering them. The walls of the toilet and shed are single width breeze blocks so not very good. We boxed in between the toilet and shed to create a space where my drier lives. We also knocked a door into the shed and I use it as a pantry/store room. the toilet is freezing in the cold weather!

    I’m getting some ideas of what I want to do with the house so thanks everyone.

    1. Hi Kate
      Welcome to BISF House it’s good to have you with us!
      I’m surprised to hear that the council removed the old wooded filler strip without filling the gaps or re-boarding the walls for you. I still have one property that has two of the living room walls still covered in the original hardboard covering. We used filler and a thin surface tape to conceal the gaps followed by lining paper and wall paper and so far they haven’t cracked at the seam. They are due to be overboarded and plastered this summer and it should be a simple enough process. The larger job involves replacing the fibreboard ceiling panels that are still present in the living room. It’s more of a dust and debris issue when the ceiling comes down but it does look a lot better.
      Some harboard walls do have a tendancy to warp too, has this been a problem in your house?

      Was your breeze block out-house rendered and do you see any moisture coming through the single skin wall? It would also be interesting to know what type of roofing material is fitted to it as often asbestos panels prove to be far colder.

      It’s great to hear that you are getting some inspiration, it would be great to hear how you get on 🙂

      Marc

      1. Hi Marc

        Yes the outbuildings have been rendered and pebble dashed. I had a problem in one corner with damp in the shed but my husband put cement between the house wall and shed wall on the outside and it has sorted it.

        I know my neighbours have lined their outhouse and put their boiler and fitted a radiator and theirs is much warmer. Mine really needs to come down and be built properly maybe even extending it so the space is more useful. Some neighbours have done this and put their kitchens in there.

        The main feature I don’t like is the chimney which is in the middle of the house – it seems a bit awkward to me having always lived in houses where the fireplace is back-to-back with next door. You can’t have everything I suppose and I bought it cheap enough from the council so can’t grumble.

        I haven’t really done anything to the house since I bought it 6 years ago because I want to get the design right and I keep flitting from opening the kitchen/dining room up to keping the kitchen the same size and take the double doors away and go through from living room to dining room and have patio or French doors.

        The kitchen is a nightmare really since it has 3 doors going into it there isn’t any way of having a good run of units. There used to be a large pantry in the kitchen but the council took it out – I wish they hadn’t because I’m lacking storage space!

        1. Hi Kate
          I was going to suggest lining the walls but if it needs re-building then perhaps there is little point.
          I have just one of my out houses knocked down and replaced by a utility room which has been a godsend as it has has doubled my storage space and made for a better downstairs toilet.
          I think overall it cost around £2,500 – £3000 but to be honest I didn’t keep that close a tab on the running costs. I think the worst problem for me was finding a reliable builder as the first ones did a runner and the second had a heart attack half way through so I finished most of it myself.

          I understand your comments regarding the fireplace, they arn’t the most inviting of designs either. Most people I know have removed theres but again if you are able to do it yourself it can be pretty cheap to do.

          As for the Kitchen, I have always blocked off the door opening from the hall and opened up the kitchen into the dining room as it seems to allow for better use of space. It also allows for a full run of kitchen units along the back wall which is an absolute must if you are serious about cooking which sadly I am lol.
          Blocking off the door is perhaps one of the easiest renovations to perform but the knocking down of the Kitchen dining room wall does mean that the ceiling will need plastering in most cases. The wall itself is very easy to remove as it is just studwork.

          I think without a doubt for me, the introduction of patio doors makes a dramatic difference to the feeling of space and allows the light to flood inside. If I could only undertake one task in my house that would be my ultimate choice.

          The only trouble is, that once you start renovating, one thing leads to another and another etc and it can become a little bit of a never ending circle! 🙂
          That’s great if you enjoy DIY but not so good if you hate dust and disruption.

  18. Hi All
    In the process of a major overhaul of my BISF house have added a 2 story extension to the side of the house giving 4th master bedroom with en suite with a garage and dining room on the ground floor. Moved the front door and hall into the new addition and extended the lounge into the old hallway I’m now working in the lounge and kitchen and want to remove the fireplace and the fire tube which runs up through the house. Has anyone removed this would love some advice on the best way of going about this tricky task. Have uploaded some pics have lots more if anyone interested in how we joined the old to the new
    Doug




    1. Hi Doug
      What a brilliant set of images showing the fireplace casting, Thank you for sharing them with us!

      I have undergone the same process several times now and it has been pretty straighforward. The hardest part was removing the precast flue and I found brutal forge with a lump hammer was the best option if not the safest.

      The flue will shatter if hit very hard but you do need to wear protective clothing and a face guard if possible and ear defenders are a must along with some anti vibration gloves. You can use an angle grinder on the frame just make sure you use a high quality multi surface cutting blade otherwise you will use up plenty of blades.

      The flue is fitted in two pieces with the lower section joining the upper section just below or slightly above ceiling level depending on the size used.
      If you intend remove the entire flue, remember that you will be left with a hole in the roof that will require covering but that should be pretty simple.

      The upper section is braced against more framework in the loft space and this part is very very heavy. If you intend to remove the whole lot you may want to start at the top section as at least it will still have some support from below. The job will probably require two people at least and mainly involves a lot of hammering to shatter the cast iron into manageable chunks. I wouldn’t use an angle grinder in the loft though due to it being a fire risk.

      If you would like the easier option then you can leave the upper section of the flue in place but this will mean that you will still have the enclosure box running through the front bedroom but saying that, it can be made into a feature of sorts. You may also need to place support struts underneath the suspended flue as a further precaution to prevent it slipping from the brace.

      I have undertaken both methods and the latter was much quicker but it did require some remedial work downstairs such as the brace support already mentioned and a false ceiling feature to house the brace as it had to be supported about 3″ below the ceiling level in my case. Of course these are only suggestions. I will post an image below but apologies for the slight curvature caused by the wide angle lens.

      In the case below I installed a shallow false breast together with a fireplace and a flueless gas fire that is 100% efficient as it requires no flue. This fire could have been mounted anywhere in the room but I fitted in back into a similar position.

      If you wanted to remove the fireplace and flue completely though, then obviously the whole lot would need to come out.

      Let me know if you have any further concerns or questions.

      Marc 🙂

  19. Thanks for the advice marc you said that the tube is in 2 sections joined just above celling level, how is it joined?
    Liked how you finished your fireplace off I’m going to lower the lounge celling by 50mm with batons to enable me to put heating and electric cable under, so i might leave the top tube in place. Will also fit a flue less fire, but not too sure where yet. As a note hope you have the fire serviced yearly very very important and have fitted a carbon monoxide alarm sorry but I’m a gas safe engineer and this type of fire if fails can be dangerous.
    great site good to have advice on tap.
    few more pics
    Regards
    doug


    1. Hi Doug
      Another great set of images and thank you once again for sharing them as they can be so very useful to other members and a valuable resource for us all.

      It was around five years ago that I removed the last flue pipe so apologies if my recollection is not brilliant but I seem to recall that the pipes just slotted together in a collar that was not permanently fixed in any way.

      As for the flueless fire yes, I have two carbon monoxide detectors in the room and it was a good job that I did because after around 3 years of excellent trouble free performance the alarms activated one night showing a high PPM of carbon monoxide in the room. I shut down the fire and inspected the catalytic converter and it had started to visibly degrade. I searched the internet and found a huge difference in price for the replacement part but managed to get one for around £40. It was easy to fit and the monoxide levels are back to zero. I had the fire serviced once again and got a clean bill of health but if I hadn’t had the alarm it could have been far more serious.

      I would suggest only fitting a flueless fire after all major works have been finished in the house, otherwise the fine dust from plaster etc can cause the catalyst to produce soot above the vent. Since the new one one fitted I’m glad to say there has been no more soot and despite some comments on the internet regarding condensation it has never been a problem for me.

  20. You can remove a flue in 5 minutes with a special tool we hired. It’s a chain with sharp bits on it and winches around the pipe. 10 to 15 winches later its gives out an almighty crack. Done. Simple n easy. Squeezes the pipe basically.

  21. Hi richsmif
    thanks for your advice im such a wally have used a chain cutter before in my line of work, never occured to me to use on flue pipe simple. should be having a go over next few months see how it goes
    regards
    doug

    1. Hi Richmif
      Now that sounds like a great tool to me and one I have never used but it would have saved me a huge amount of work.
      In fact that could mean doug could easily cut the flue in the loft just below the bracket in the loft and remove the flue and the flue box in the front bedroom if he wished leaving just the upper section of the chimney and cowling in place rather than repair the hole in the roof.

      What did you do with your roof Rich after removing the flue?

      Also do you have a photo of the chain cutter as it’s not a tool I’m familiar with?

  22. I’ve started renovating the living room and today I stripped the plasterboard off the window wall in order to reinsulate it and rebuild it like I did in the back bedroom. 

    The wooden structure I found is exactly the same as upstairs, fairly flimsy compared with what you’d normally build, but as it only spans just over a metre on either side of the window I guess it was OK. 

    Some sort of rodent (I guess) has damaged the old glassfibre insulation in patches. It’s removed the brown paper in a few places and burrowed through the insulation itself and removed some too. I guess it’s got in through the loft as the cavity opens into the loft.

    Another problem I’ve found is that the centre wall is thicker above the picture rail than below. It seems to have an extra layer of plasterboard above the rail. It is the same in the dining room, kitchen and hall too and I think it’s to do with steel beam in it. Not sure how the plasterer will deal with skimming it…

    Here are the photos. You can see the old insulation and woodwork here, some of the damage to the paper I did when taking off the plasterboard, but some looks like rodent damage.

     

    Possible rodent damage under the window. The paper casing of the insulation has gone and a lot of the insulation itself has been chewed/removed. I’m surprised any animal would touch that itchy fibreglass!

     

    More possible rodent damage above the window:

     

    “Fibreglass heat and cold insulation”

    Woodwork and old insulation stripped out. The render wasn’t what I was expecting at all. I thought it would be like the back of lath and plaster walls and you would be able to see the steel lattice laths, but it’s been smoothed over completely. It looks pretty much as good as new – no sign of rust, cracking etc.

     

    Here’s the steel upright in the corner next to the hall/front door. You can see how the woodwork is clamped on with a special clip thing. I think it’s important to leave that woodwork in as I can’t think of a DIY way of attaching new woodwork to steel, so it gives something to screw your new woodwork into.

     

  23. Hi Marc, I’m glad you like the photos! There is a vent in almost the same place as you describe, but it’s under the right hand side of the window.

    Fortunately the ceiling boards are actually plasterboard, but they look a bit strange because where I’ve scraped the wallpaper off them it has come away with the top layer of the cardboard backing of the boards. They look a little bit different from modern plasterboards because the paper/cardboard is a lot thicker and the gypsum plaster inside is grey rather than white, but basically they are the same thing. I’m going to coat them with PVA before I get them skimmed because they look very absorbent because I’ve taken some of the surface off. All of the downstairs ceilings seem to be plasterboard and all of those upstairs were fibreboard. I’m not sure if i’ve drilled/tapped all of the downstairs ceilings, but I expect they are all the same because the boards are continuous between rooms, which is unusual but logical as they obviously put the ceiling up before they built the internal walls.

    I have been putting in some more sockets already actually. While doing the living room I took the opportunity to put two in through on the other side in the kitchen to replace a death-trap the previous owners had. They had put in a socket in the kitchen that was connected to an ordinary appliance flex that went through a hole in the wall to the living room where it was plugged in(!) to another socket!

    In the window wall on the left I found the original rubber-insulated mains cable and also in the wall was a piece of board with a circular hole where I guess the original sockets were mounted. The house had been rewired with wiring in surface conduits which I’ve taken out in order to put them in the wall. Is it normal for a BISF house to only have one ring main? I’m guessing it was done because the wiring has to drop down from ceiling height to each socket downstairs because of the solid ground floor so it makes more sense to put the sockets upstairs on the same ring.

    I seem to remember you said something about harvest mice liking the wall cavities. Maybe that is what damaged the insulation? I did find a bird skeleton in the protruding steel window surround so I guess that the old windows must have left a gap they could get through.

    1. Morning Ed,
      Ah the joys of having plasterboard downstairs! Sadly as I have mentioned before, all of my walls were hardboard and all the ceilings were fibreboard but I’m glad to hear that you have a plasterboard ceiling as this can save a lot of work.
      Out of curiosity are your ceiling light points offset, ie not situated in the middle of the room? All the front rooms that I have worked on have had off centre light fittings. This was easy to resolve but it did involve inserting a support between the joists.

      The plastic conduit rewiring was pretty standard in many BISF houses and in this area it was installed in the 80’s although the consumer unit was still pretty dated having no rcd’s. These houses in the Midlands were also only fitted with one ring main using a multitude of junction boxes which by todays standards is not best practice. I have since replaced some of the individual fuses in the consumer unit with RCD,s and that reminds me that I still need a few more. They are pretty cheap and much safer in my opinion. I will take a phot of my box to share just in case it helps others.
      As for the cables through the wall lol, that sounds like something my late Father would have done bless his cottons and no small wonder that accidents do happen with bad wiring.

      I’ve never seen a vent under the window before and yours appears circular from what I can see. Do you think this was an original vent or one fitted later?
      At this point I would also check with a Gas fitter if new regulations require a vent at a higher level or not. I know mine had to be inserted around 6ft high from the floor. Not being Gas Safe registered I am unsure about the latest regulations but I would hate to see you having to bore a vent after you have completed the work.
      I may be way off but it’s probaly better to double check.

      As for vermin, yes I had the exact same issue but it occured around a window in the back room of one of the properties. All of the paper was chewed off the insulation causing it to collapse. I have no idea how a bird could have got inside though lol.
      One thing to mention, in two of my properties despite rewiring, they were not earthed. There was no grounded earth cable going from the consumer unit. This may have just been particular to the houses here but it is also worthwhile to check your box just in case. Once again it was pretty easy to resolve but do take a look just in case.

      Right off out to do another few jobs for the day before it pours down again.

      I will catch up later.

      Marc

  24. Morning Marc,
    I’m glad as well because redoing the ceiling upstairs was by far the most time-consuming job! 

    The light in the living room is in the centre but in the dining room it’s nearer to the window, same in the kitchen. Also in the two larger bedrooms there are two lights, one near the party wall and one at the other end near the window. Someone told me having the ceiling lamps near the window was standard in those days and the idea was for privacy as it made it harder to see in at night. I don’t know if there’s any truth in that. Also, in the architects plans it shows a table or desk under the one position and a bed under the other. I didn’t change the positions, but I did rewire them slightly as the far light was operated by a pull cord and the near one by a switch by the door. Instead I put in a two gang switch so they could both be operated from the same point next to the door and I could get rid of the untidy pull cord.

    As far as I can tell the ring main runs from one socket to another with no junction boxes and the consumer unit has RCDs so I think it’s basically fine and just needs a few extra sockets and cosmetic work. Actually my partner did get a shock from the dodgy socket when he plugged a kettle into it which must have drawn more current than the flex (table lamp/small appliance type flex) could handle. Fortunately it wasn’t serious! I have checked the earth because we were getting static shocks from the electric shower and it turned out that the earth to that wasn’t connected inside the shower unit!

    Thanks for the tip about the vent, I’ll look into that. Some of the other houses have two, one low down and one high up. It looks as though it was put in when the boiler was put in, maybe 20-30 years ago at a guess. The hole through the wall is round (you can see the plastic pipe for it on the window sill in one of the photos) but the face plate/grill is square. It does let quite a draught in, but obviously essential to let the boiler work safely.

    Here’s a photo or two of the vent under the window, which I had dismantled to put the insulation in. Then I cut through the insulation board which I thought would be easier than cutting the hole first and trying to line it up. The render is about 5cm thick. I guess they put it under the window to make it more unobtrusive. I looked into the vent question and the requirement is 100cm3 of free air, which is what I have (it’s marked on the vent itself). 

    I have though removed the vent between the living room and hall by replacing the piece of plasterboard it’s cut into, because I don’t really see any point in it.

    I have a quick question about getting the walls skimmed. I had two plasterers round for quotes but both said that the walls and ceiling needed reboarding because the surface had come away with the old paper. My dad said that’s nonsense and it would be fine once primed with PVA. I also spoke to my neighbour and she said she had her livingroom, diningroom and kitchen skimmed without being reboarded. What’s your experience with this?

    I have reboarded the small wall between the door into the hall and the window wall to get rid of the vent and put in a new flush finish light switch. Underneath the old switch was this piece of wood with a hole cut through it with a surface-mounted switch on top (there is the same thing for the electrical sockets). I cut the wood out and put in a dry wall box for the switch.

     

    I was surprised to find that there was no support for the studwork above the window – it spans the whole 2m between the steels with no attachment above. When I removed it, the wooden window surround started to sag a bit. To support it and the new studwork I cut a bit of the old 2×2 and bolted it onto the steelwork just above the window in the middle, which had a handy and unused hole in it! Then I screwed up from the underneath of the window surround into the 2×2 which lifted it back to being straight.

    Here I’ve put the ring main cables that were in a surface conduit in behind the boards by cutting out holes above the battens on the party wall and notching them. It’s a fiddly job but I think it’s worth it to hide them. The thinner cables are ethernet cables – one to the back bedroom and one to the small bedroom that we use as studies. They run through the loft and I have built them into the bedroom/bathroom wall with a socket there as part of the bedroom refurbishment. The square hole is for the ethernet sockets and the rectangular one is for the power socket. Unfortunately there isn’t enough space between the plasterboard and concrete blocks behind to fit in a dry wall box so I’ll have to drill into the concrete to fix metal boxes in instead.

    Here’s the whole window wall – I’ve put the CLS timbers in the other way round from normal because there isn’t as much space as upstairs because of the thickness of the concrete render. Obviously it’s not quite as rigid as normal, but it should be at least as good as the original, which was fine. You can see the re-used piece of 2×2 which is darker than the new wood, above the middle of the window. I’ve also screwed the bottom of the window frame down as that was bowing upwards for some reason.

    And now not directly BISF related, I found this G-plan sideboard on Ebay which I think will look fantastic with the 50s theme!

    I can see now why the top of the wall isn’t vertical. For some reason they have used a piece of 2×2 timber in the steel beam instead of a thinner piece of wood, so it sticks out further than the studwork underneath.

    I haven’t tried to prize it out yet because it isn’t clear how it is attached but I thought I’d replace it with something thinner and then the wonkiness can be corrected.

     

  25. Ed,

    Hi Ed, apologies for the delay. I managed to get a couple of weeks vacation in Spain but sadly the internet was so hit and miss and it was dial up which was a real blast from the past lol.
    Re the plaster boarding issue I personally would agree with your Father. PVA should be sufficient on old plasterboard as long as the paper outer lining isn’t too bad such as large areas where it has separated from the underlying plaster.
    In cases where some of the paper covering has peeled away with old layers of wallpaper, I found that as long as the plaster underside isn’t fully exposed, PVA is acceptable. When the plaster is exposed in large it can be prone to crumbling and hence not a good base for new plaster even with PVA.

    That’s just my experience as I’m no plasterer. :0)

  26. Ed,

    Another first class installation Ed, the front room window wall looks very neat and tidy. What thickness Celotex Kingspan did you use on the wall?

    Also you mentioned that the underside window batten had bowed, has it got vertical studding resting on either side that may have caused this due to movement / weight?

    Very nice piece of G-Plan! I’m really looking forward to seeing the design theme come together as I’m a big fan of retro :0)

  27. shmuck9681,

    Shmuck, superb set of images, thank you for sharing them with us!
    You certainly have not done things by half and this is the first time that I have seen steel plasterboard studding installed inside a domestic property let alone a BISF house.

    What were the advantages and disadvantages if any in fitting this? Would you say that the speed of installation was an advantage and did this require you to replace any of the original stud-work or was this left in situ?

    Also did you leave the flue in place as it also looks like you have had a new replacement flue installed?

    Apologies for so many questions but it is rare to see an entire first floor strip out.
    I also see your loft hatch access is on the landing. Many here in the Midlands are located in the rear bedroom.

    How long did the overall renovation take you and did you encounter any major problems?

    Would I also be right in thinking that you are no stranger to this type of renovation work and if so how would you compare the BISF renovation process to a standard brick built property?

    I will stop there :0) and once again thank you for sharing your project with us. The results look brilliant!

    Marc

  28. Hi fellow BISF dwellers, this is my first post.
    We live in a BISF house in Essex, which we bought 8 years ago from the original family who were allocated it in 1947 (they bought it under right to buy and made a fortune!)
    It has had a fair few alterations over the years, so I’ll start at the top!
    The roof is of the sheet metal tile boards type – done by the council years ago. Also the metal upper floor has been reinsulated and covered in UPVC weatherboards.
    When we moved in the flue was cut off in the ground floor, but we have subsequently removed all of it and gained extra space in our front bedroom. There was no sign of the quilted liner that I have read about, but it was lucky we did it as it was just balanced on some wood, apart from the metal strap! The chimney stack is still there at roof level and has been made watertight.
    Our loft has been boarded in its entire length and width and reinsulated. The firm that did it used battens over the top of the existing framework, stuffed it with insulation, then put the boards on top. We also had a new ladder fitted.
    On the upper floor we had a new fitted bedroom put in, we’ve had new ceiling pretty much throughout the house, and a new bathroom. The cupboard in the small bedroom is gone, as are the drawers, but the base has been reduced to the absolute minimum it can go. We have number 2 son’s bunk bed fitted over that, so we now have quite a decent sized room.
    We replaced the glass lighters above the doors with a new glass, which is laminated and partially frosted with a star pattern.
    All the upstair rooms remain the original size. Like i said the flue is gone, and we gained extra space. The cupboard next to it is the airing cupboard and contains the hot water tank. The other cupboard is no longer there and is now extra space in the back bedroom.
    Downstairs – we have a porch which we want to replace with a brick built one. The lounge no longer cuts through to the dining room, and the kitchen and dining room have been knocked through to make a massive galley kitchen with a desk for the computer at the far end.
    Where the back window was, the previous occupants knocked it out and buit an extension. In there we have our dining table, a sideboard and a sofa. It has french doors onto the garden.
    The side building was in a right mess. We had the original roof removed and replaced with a timber one coated in a good thick felt. We had a hand basin put in the toilet area, and the whole area re tiled. We had the roof space insulated and then a proper ceiling put in. We had the walls insulated and an internal plaster studwork applied to the external walls. We had the whole electrical system replaced and the gas pipes re routed. We now have a really good utility room with radiator, washing machine, tumble drier, fridge freezer, and a large half depth kitchen unit. Prior to the electrics being done there was no ring main apparently, it was all on spurs.
    The front garden has been partially converted to off street parking.
    There is still much work to do , but we find our BISF house is ideal for a growing family.
    If anybody is interested I may try posting some pictures in a few days time.

      1. Hi Ed, I’ve just been browsing through some of our older posts from earlier discussions that we had. It still amazes me how much work you completed in a short time including the transformation of your living room shortly after you moved in to your house. I really do love the 50’s furniture and the design style that fits in perfectly with your home. I’ve edited one to black and white and reposted it below. Apart from the modern electricals, it looks just like those original early images of furnishings inside the newly built houses. Fantastic!

        Ed's BISF Living room in Black & White

  29. Hi all,

    just a quick update on the living room renovation which is now almost complete. I just thought I’d share my attempts to insulate the wooden window reveal – not sure if this is the right term, but the wooden frame that surrounds the window opening.

    Once I’d finished rebuilding and insulating the wall I realised that there is still a big air gap behind that wooden reveal. Basically that roughly 15mm thick piece of wood is the only insulation between the room and the outside world. Because of the cold there, condensation forms on the wood next to the window frame leading to mould growth (the only place where it’s a problem in the house). You can see it’s been a long term problem because the paint was flaking away in the corner from persistent damp.

    To try and solve the problem, I have drilled holes about 15mm in diameter roughly 150mm apart in the reveal and injected expanding foam into the gap. Fingers crossed it will fix the problem!

    You can also see some of our new red and yellow colour scheme and the newly exposed floor (though the colour cast from the lighting is horrible!)

    Post Merged

    Here are the photos. You can see the old insulation and woodwork here, some of the damage to the paper I did when taking off the plasterboard, but some looks like rodent damage.

     

    Possible rodent damage under the window. The paper casing of the insulation has gone and a lot of the insulation itself has been chewed/removed. I’m surprised any animal would touch that itchy fibreglass!

     

    More possible rodent damage above the window:

     

    “Fibreglass heat and cold insulation”

    Woodwork and old insulation stripped out. The render wasn’t what I was expecting at all. I thought it would be like the back of lath and plaster walls and you would be able to see the steel lattice laths, but it’s been smoothed over completely. It looks pretty much as good as new – no sign of rust, cracking etc.

     

    Here’s the steel upright in the corner next to the hall/front door. You can see how the woodwork is clamped on with a special clip thing. I think it’s important to leave that woodwork in as I can’t think of a DIY way of attaching new woodwork to steel, so it gives something to screw your new woodwork into.

     

  30. admin: Ed, Another first class installation Ed, the front room window wall looks very neat and tidy. What thickness Celotex Kingspan did you use on the wall?Also you mentioned that the underside window batten had bowed, has it got vertical studding resting on either side that may have caused this due to movement / weight?Very nice piece of G-Plan! I’m really looking forward to seeing the design theme come together as I’m a big fan of retro :0)

    Hi Marc, I’ve just realised I never replied to your post! I used 70mm Celotex/Kingspan behind the studwork and then 50mm in the gaps between the studwork. Ideally I think 70mm is a bit too thick, but I had it already either left over from upstairs or bought before I removed the original lining. I hadn’t realised there would be less room than upstairs because the thickness of the render is on the inside not the outside.

    Above the window the original woodwork was only attached to the steel uprights on either side and to the window surround/reveal below and probably relied on the plasterboard to keep it all rigid, but i’ve managed to pull the window surround up and straighten it out by bolting the new studwork onto the steel upright above the window which had a convenient and unused hole (maybe it was meant to be used originally?).

    The room looks a lot smarter and more contemporary, but still with a BISF flavour I think!

  31. Hi fellow BISF dwellers, this is my first post.We live in a BISF house in Essex, which we bought 8 years ago from the original family who were allocated it in 1947 (they bought it under right to buy and made a fortune!)It has had a fair few alterations over the years, so I’ll start at the top!The roof is of the sheet metal tile boards type – done by the council years ago. Also the metal upper floor has been reinsulated and covered in UPVC weatherboards.When we moved in the flue was cut off in the ground floor, but we have subsequently removed all of it and gained extra space in our front bedroom. There was no sign of the quilted liner that I have read about, but it was lucky we did it as it was just balanced on some wood, apart from the metal strap! The chimney stack is still there at roof level and has been made watertight.Our loft has been boarded in its entire length and width and reinsulated. The firm that did it used battens over the top of the existing framework, stuffed it with insulation, then put the boards on top. We also had a new ladder fitted.On the upper floor we had a new fitted bedroom put in, we’ve had new ceiling pretty much throughout the house, and a new bathroom. The cupboard in the small bedroom is gone, as are the drawers, but the base has been reduced to the absolute minimum it can go. We have number 2 son’s bunk bed fitted over that, so we now have quite a decent sized room.We replaced the glass lighters above the doors with a new glass, which is laminated and partially frosted with a star pattern.All the upstair rooms remain the original size. Like i said the flue is gone, and we gained extra space. The cupboard next to it is the airing cupboard and contains the hot water tank. The other cupboard is no longer there and is now extra space in the back bedroom.Downstairs – we have a porch which we want to replace with a brick built one. The lounge no longer cuts through to the dining room, and the kitchen and dining room have been knocked through to make a massive galley kitchen with a desk for the computer at the far end.Where the back window was, the previous occupants knocked it out and buit an extension. In there we have our dining table, a sideboard and a sofa. It has french doors onto the garden.The side building was in a right mess. We had the original roof removed and replaced with a timber one coated in a good thick felt. We had a hand basin put in the toilet area, and the whole area re tiled. We had the roof space insulated and then a proper ceiling put in. We had the walls insulated and an internal plaster studwork applied to the external walls. We had the whole electrical system replaced and the gas pipes re routed. We now have a really good utility room with radiator, washing machine, tumble drier, fridge freezer, and a large half depth kitchen unit. Prior to the electrics being done there was no ring main apparently, it was all on spurs.The front garden has been partially converted to off street parking.There is still much work to do , but we find our BISF house is ideal for a growing family.If anybody is interested I may try posting some pictures in a few days time.

    Hello Mr Spock welcome!

    Wow your house sounds great and you have done so much to it too. I like the sound of a fully boarded loft and it would be great if you could share some piccies with us.
    I keep trying to get my other half to board ours but he says its too difficult lol He just doesn’t want to get up there me thinks.
    How did you remove your flue, as ours sounds just like how yours was, there is still half of it left in our house running through the bedroom into the loft. I have no idea whats holding it up!

    I’d love to have a utility outside and yours sounds perfect as there isn’t much room in the kitchen as it stands. It would be great having the washer outside.
    I think our electrics are all connection boxes, circular plastic things in the ceilings, I do think we should get them changed. Did having a rewire cause much disruption in the house?

    Looking forward to hearing back from you.

    Trish :0)