Non Traditional Construction (Part 3)

PRCs, Cornish Type 2

The Cornish Type 2

Unlike the Cornish Type 1 PRC houses that are found all over Bristol, the Type 2 does not have the distinctive mansard hipped roof, clad with vertically hung tiles on the upper floor. It has ‘normal’ vertical walls! Type 2 houses can be found in and around Stoke Gifford. However they are not always recognisable. Both Cornish systems were declared as “defective” under the 1985 Housing Act and many were subsequently ‘repaired’.When Type 2s have been “bricked up” or clad with either brickwork or render finishes, they appear to be of standard Council 1950’s style construction. In their original form, the concrete reinforced panels are larger than those used on the Type 1 Cornish.

Some mortgage lenders are still wary of PRCs; for further information, see www.BritishCouncil of mortgage lenders etc.

 What are the problems with the interiors?

The internal partitions were not always the standard timber studwork expected in traditionally constructed properties. They are often a lot thinner.Partitions are around 120mm thick in a traditional type property, compared to 75mm in the Cornish Type 1. The latter were often made of paramount boards and if opened up have a segmental carboard type structure internally. These were poor sound insulators and very hard to fix things such as pictures to.

Where the property has been ‘bricked up’ (overclad),the  floorboards are often loose around the edges of rooms. The support joists have lost their bearing  on the external walls due to the rebuilding work. Hence where they meet the wall, the ends of the floorboards often are poorly supported and “bounce” as a result.

And most non-traditionally constructed properties of this time contain asbestos. Products oftencontaining asbestos are the soffits, thermoplastic floor tiles and the in-built soil stack. This is not readily visible except where it is peeking through the roof. Also Artex™ ceiling coverings, often as a result of the 1980’s fashion to hide cracked ceilings.

What about the services?

As these types of property are generally in Council/ Local Authority estates, they may not have been updated.  Electrical checks and gas checks are strongly advised. Due to the solid concrete spine wall, the electrical services are often in trunking as opposed to set into the walls.

These houses will most likely have the older lead water service pipes which can pose a health hazard. They are set into the solid floors and can leak unnoticed for prolonged periods of time, often resulting in insurance claim. We have helped progress many of these in the past!

Recent developments

There has been a drive in the last year in South Gloucester by Merlin Housing Association to overclad some of their Cornish type 2 Units. We have acted as Party Wall Surveyors to some of the adjoining owners. The tenants have made very favourable comments with regards to reduced mould growth and decreased fuel bills since the external wall insulation has been installed. The only complaint has been that handrails and satellite dishes have required special fixings to go through the insulation and fix onto the concrete beneath.

We should be well versed in their construction as our Surveyor Jon Holloway and his family live in one!