Editors note: Whenever we write an article here at the BISF House website, we try to be as accurate and as balanced as possible. But today, this article is somewhat of a rant, for which I make no apologies whatsoever. It relates to certain companies that we both respect & admire within the construction industry. Large companies that deal with BISF refurbishments on a regular basis, who should know better than to contribute to the badly misinformed urban MYTH that BISF were only ever built as temporary dwellings.
Most BISF Homeowners and readers of this website will no doubt be fully aware that BISF Houses were built as permanent homes, with a similar life expectancy to traditional post war brick properties.
Prior to the creation of the BISF House website, the Internet was awash with misleading information that commonly referred to BISF houses as being nothing more than temporary prefabs with a shelf life of just 10-15 years.
Temporary post war prefabricated bungalows were built across Britain in huge numbers just after the WWII and many of these building did indeed have a short expected lifespan. Commonly constructed using asbestos roofing sheets and clad with pressed steel panels, these bungalows were instantly recognisable to the public as temporary prefabs. These small lightweight units were pre-assembled inside factories and often in two halves which were then loaded onto the back of lorries and transported around the country. On site they were placed onto simple foundations and bolted together in very short time. Hence the name prefabricated or pre-made.
Around the same time, 36,000 BISF homes were also built around the country and, due to material & skilled labour shortages, they were also covered with asbestos roofs and clad with pressed steel panels. In effect and not surprisingly, the BISF house, at least in the public’s eye, was simply a two storey big brother version of the temporary bungalow and so the MYTH and misinformation began.
To make matters worse, the term prefabricated was also applied to the steel framed BISF house, suggesting that like the temporary bungalows, these houses were pre-assembled off site or inside a factory when in fact they were not. Of course, certain key parts of the building, including the steel frame and roofing panels were pre-manufactured in advance just as timber roofing joists, drywall panels and a myriad of other building materials are today but, the BISF house was never pre-formed, pre-assembled or Pre-fabricated in any way.
The BISF House is a “Steel Framed Non-Traditional building”, nothing more, nothing less. Some Non Traditional building however appear remarkably different to others as much depends upon the materials used to clad or build the exterior visible surface.
Take a look at the mage below. What do you see?
What you are looking at is a steel framed non-traditional house built in a very similar way to the BISF house, the only real difference is what you can see on the outside. Whilst a BISF house is clad in a mixture of unconventional materials this house has been clad in a brick skin. Yet I would suspect that nobody would consider this house to be a prefab in any shape or form.
Move forward into the 21st Century and slowly but surely, thanks in part to this website and our members and community, we are making a difference, putting the record straight and re-educating the public and commercial sector alike.
But, wiping out the temporary lifespan and prefab myth is proving to be anything but simple, particularly when well respected market leading companies continue to perpetuate these old MYTHS. Take a look at the examples below:
WEBER SAINT GOBAIN
Weber is part of an international group employing more than 10,000 people across 48 countries worldwide. The company is also a major manufacturer of external insulation systems supplying the UK market.
Webers own website describes the BISF House as,
“The BISF house is a steel framed house, designed and produced by the British Iron & Steel Federation and erected around the country from 1946. In Cambridgeshire these temporary prefab homes, constructed in 1950, are still standing securely today”. LINK
HENRY BOOT CONSTRUCTION
Henry Boot are an award winning contractor operating to the highest standards in the construction industry. They work closely with local authorities and social housing groups nationwide in expertly refurbishing and renovating BISF properties.
We have great regard for the work and expertise that Henry Boot deploys in relation to its work with BISF properties but we were equally shocked at the following statement displayed on their company website in respect to BISF renovations in Barnsley:
“BISF properties are prefabricated structures erected after the Second World War to provide temporary accommodation during the housing shortages.
Originally designed to last 10-15 years, many of the properties are still inhabited over 60 years later, meaning modernisation works are essential to allow residents to continue living in their homes” LINK
Last but certainly not least, this last company, albeit apparently much smaller in size than those previously mentioned, manages to take pole position of our MISINFORMATION AWARD.
COBALT CARBON FREE
Claim to offer internal and external wall insulation to owners of BISF houses with 30 years’ experience in a wide range of situations including social housing. They have a full page dedicated to the work that they had carried out on a “BISF” house including before and after photographs with the title:
Pollington BISF Bungalow, Goole
This 1960’s system built bungalow was leaking heat due to age, lower build standards, incorrect materials and lacking production quality.
Not only are the photographs NOT of a BISF House but sadly they ARE of a Post War Temporary Bungalow which is sad really as we think they did a great job on the renovation.LINK
FACE TO PALM
Now, please don’t think we are on a witch hunt here because we are not but unless we strive to highlight these indiscretions and wipe out these false MYTHS, the reputation of our homes will continue to be tarnished and that is one thing we will never accept and nor should you.
The plain and simple truth is that companies who deal with BISF houses should know better better than to display incorrect information that serves nothing more than to undermine their own reputations without needing any help from us to do so.
If you yourself find any similar examples of companies displaying incorrect information regarding BISF houses then please feel free to add your links below and together we may continue to make a difference.