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Concrete houses in Cambridge

I am considering buying a concrete house in Cambridge. There are a few in CB5 around Howard and Peverel road that I know of.
Does any of you have experience with those houses as owners / renters? As far as I know all lenders (maybe with exception of Barclays) do mortgage them and they seem to be selling well on the market too (albeit for significantly less then brick equivalents).
What is it like to live in one ? I have read they were all poured in situ (laing easiform type of concrete? ) when built. Apparently there were many batches of same concrete in the 50-ies when they were built. Some good some bad.
The fact they are still standing after 70-ish years would suggest it was good (-ish) I guess... Houses I have seen had a decent layout and massive gardens!

I would welcome comments from you


Published by hawk2014 at 9:22pm on Mon 13th February 2017. Viewed 6,441 times.

There are a bunch of them on the Milton Road too, all originally council houses. I was told that some had been significantly upgraded or rebuilt while in council ownership, and those are the ones that are easily mortgageable today. I dare say there's more to it than that though.

Published by sam i at 11:09pm on Mon 13th February 2017.

I've been in one for the last 15 years. Can't remember any issues getting a mortgage. Trying to drill through external walls usually causes a certain amount of swearing but apart from that it's just like living in any other house.

Published by Vindaloon at 10:40am on Tue 28th February 2017.

Are you sure yours is a concrete house, Vin?

Published by B-bam at 11:28pm on Tue 28th February 2017.

Thought it was. Maybe it isn't!

Published by Vindaloon at 1:30pm on Fri 3rd March 2017.

I know of a few people who have bought concrete houses (or prefabs) just to knock them down, build a new modern house, and sell that.

Since concrete houses can be bought cheaper, these people are effectively buying a building plot for about £300,000, yet still making well over £100,000 easy profit, even taking into account the costs of building a new house.

Such is the madness of housing at the moment.

Published by Silent Rob at 1:48pm on Fri 3rd March 2017.

As I understand it, not all concrete houses are problematic - just the ones that were built in a hurry to replace the ones that the Germans blew up during WWII.

The problem is that the steel reinforcing rods inside the concrete can start to rust - and the only way to find out if this is happening is to smash the wall to bits and take a look.

Published by Wrongfellow at 3:35pm on Fri 3rd March 2017.

As much as rusty rods, the alkali-silica reaction is the cause of many issues in concrete structures - when water finds its way into the concrete via cracks, it forms calcium silicate hydrate and increases in volume turning small cracks into big ones in the process commonly known as concrete cancer. Well-built structures made of good quality concrete tend to suffer less, hence so many post-war pre-fabs and "new town" buildings ending up in such a bad state that many have been demolished; newer types of concrete are less susceptible.

Published by John Techno at 8:43pm on Sat 4th March 2017.

From what I can gather, based on a very quick read of some architecture websites, Laing Easi-Form ended up being used as a bit of a generic term for any cheap concrete house built in the first two or three decades after WW2 and earned a bad rep as a result, but genuine Easi-Form was apparently a good-quality material and houses built from it weren't listed as shit in the 1985 Housing Act (they might not have used the word "shit" in the Act) and as such it remained possible to get mortgages on them. So, provided the survey doesn't highlight any issues, the price is low enough to reflect the possibiity that it feasibly could develop alkali-silica reaction problems (or other issues associated with concrete buildings) in the future and the house is in fact Easi-Form, I'd probably go for it.

Published by John Techno at 9:00pm on Sat 4th March 2017.
This reply has been edited, last edit at 9:12pm on Sat 4th March 2017.

JT - off topic completely, do you service bikes for cash?

Published by B-bam at 10:12pm on Sat 4th March 2017.

Used to; haven't got a lot of tools anymore though (plus I'm really lazy) so I'm limited in what I can do. If we're talking really basic stuff (tightening the headset, cranks and stuff like that) I'll do it for a couple of beers. If it's hub regreasing, bottom bracket servicing (oo-er) and stuff like that, I can't help unless you hve a time machine allowing me to go back a few years to retrieve my tools from before they got nicked*.

*If you have, I'll do it for free.

Published by John Techno at 10:35pm on Sat 4th March 2017.

I'm not expecting you to do anything for free my dear.

What tools did you have stolen? Can you put up either pics or links so I know exactly what you mean?

Published by B-bam at 1:26pm on Sun 5th March 2017.

It was loads of stuff - mostly Park Tools specialist bike stuff that cost quite a bit to buy and would be really rather easy to sell on, plus some vintage stuff I'd collected up for working on older bikes. All got nicked about six years ago, and I've never bothered to start replacing it all as I don't really need much other than a set of allen keys, a multitool, a torque wrench and a few other bits and pieces for my own bikes.

(Having said that, I recently added a nice 1960s Hercules to my stables - and like most British bike manufacturers pre-1980, Hercules seem to have made all their nuts and bolts in-house and to whatever size and thread patterns happened to take their fancy that day, so those vintage tools would be welcome to have back!)

Published by John Techno at 2:20pm on Sun 5th March 2017.
This reply has been edited, last edit at 2:25pm on Sun 5th March 2017.

If JT canny help you, take your bike to Cambridge Cycles opposite the old maternity hospital in Mill Road. Grimbol is a good old boy, very good and very cheap.

Published by bigmal at 9:39pm on Sun 5th March 2017.

I like that shop.

Published by John Techno at 2:03am on Mon 6th March 2017.

There's a couple of Pill boxes along the river near Waterbeach, they're made of a shit load of concrete.

Published by Priority 23 at 12:28pm on Mon 6th March 2017.

There's another one by the railway bridge on Stourbridge Common, and more further up towards Bait's Bite Lock. You've got to be careful if you go in them though because there are often discarded needles lying around.

Published by John Techno at 3:34pm on Mon 6th March 2017.

I am wondering about the pill box by the railway bridge on Stourbridge Common. It's almost exactly where the new bridge is going to go. Are they going to demolish it for the new bridge, and are Pillboxes listed?

Published by Silent Rob at 5:52am on Tue 7th March 2017.

Interesting point. I suspect some types are, but that one's the same design you see all over the place and so it might not be.

Off Wikipedia -

"Today, it is very rare to find any part of Britain's defences other than that composed of concrete. Immediately after the war, there were more pressing matters to attend to than conserving the detritus of a battle that never happened. For decades, with the sole exception of Pevensey Castle — where the new fortifications were seen as a part of the building's history — there was never even a suggestion that anything should be deliberately conserved... it is estimated that some 28,000 pillboxes and other hardened field fortifications were constructed in the United Kingdom, of which about 6,500 still survive"

- so still enough of them about that the commoner types might not be protected at all. Be a shame if they were one of those things where everyone says "there's loads around, so this one doesn't matter" and then all of a sudden there were none left.

Published by John Techno at 11:08am on Tue 7th March 2017.
This reply has been edited, last edit at 11:15am on Tue 7th March 2017.


i'm sure these pill boxes are listed and can't be demolished...

Published by Priority 23 at 12:16pm on Tue 7th March 2017.

They could always build the bridge over the pillbox and somehow incorporate it into the structure.

Published by Silent Rob at 5:38am on Wed 8th March 2017.

I find the idea of these pillboxes quite interesting. The chances of The Nazis invading Blighty by sailing down the Cam is next to zero, so these defences are effectively useless. Their value was in making the people THINK they were better defended, plus it gave people something to do in constructing them, to make them think they were helping the war effort. It's all quite clever really.

Published by Silent Rob at 5:42am on Wed 8th March 2017.

The "General Arrangement Plan" from the planning application shows the pillbox being retained:

Published by Wrongfellow at 11:54am on Wed 8th March 2017.

That Pillbox is hilarious. Can you imagine if the Wehrmacht made it over the channel and landed and were able to get a foothold at dover and then move upwards through, or around London and were then making their way up the country and you happen to be the poor sod told and defend the Cam and had to sit in that Pillbox.

Published by bigmal at 7:04pm on Wed 8th March 2017.

I suspect the British government were well aware that if the Nazis ever got that far good old Blighty was well and truly fucked, and the chaps in the pillboxes were there simply to be a bit of a pain in the Arsch.

Published by John Techno at 11:02pm on Wed 8th March 2017.

It's similar to the story about a group of soldiers and their captain waiting for rescue on a beach facing possible death:

Captain: your boots are muddy. It's a disgrace!
Soldiers: but we're going to die sir!
Captain: if you die and go to heaven then who are you going to meet, eh?
Soldiers: well, God sir...
Captain: and you're telling me you're going to meet God with dirty boots!!

I think that the main purpose of the pillboxes was mostly psychological. I think that building them gave the people something to do to take their mind off the imminent threat.

Published by Silent Rob at 5:41am on Thu 9th March 2017.

Double post

Published by Silent Rob at 5:42am on Thu 9th March 2017.
This reply has been edited, last edit at 5:47am on Fri 10th March 2017.

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