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What is an Airey House and Should You Buy One?

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An Airey house might be something you are not familiar with, yet you may well have lived in one or even reside in one today.

Named after the builder that created them, Sir Edwin Airey, the houses were introduced after World War II in an effort to help get people housed quickly and cheaply. Demand was outweighing supply, and this was seen as an incredible way to help house people without putting tremendous strain on the workforce, the economy, or the government.

In all, just over 30,000 were built at a cost of roughly £1,400 per property. With quick construction and cheap costs, Britain was able to rapidly move in rehoming its citizens after the destruction caused by the war.

Today we look into the Airey home and see whether they are still a worthwhile property investment and whether there are any property problems you may encounter with one.  

What are Airey houses?

Chances are, you have heard of a prefabricated house. If not, let’s quickly explain what they are. A prefabricated (or prefab) is a property that is built from precast columns and a prefabricated concrete structure. The walls were assembled at a factory and then bought to site where they were, pretty much wrapped around the structure. Cheap to build and easy to assemble, they became extremely popular very quickly. One thing often not recognised is that part of the cheap cost stems from the fact the tubing used to reinforce the concrete columns was taken from military trucks. The Airey houses filled this description.

The ease of assembly meant jobs could be fulfilled without the workers needing to be particularly skilled and the materials used were readily available at the factories being used. Concrete, steel and more were all readily available.

They first started to hit the assembly line in 1945 and by 1955 there were approximately 26,000 across the UK.

As we mentioned at the top of the page, World War II saw the need for a rapid acceleration in the building of properties and several companies designed properties and were offered contracts to get them built quickly.

The Airey design was one awarded such a contract.

How is an Airey house built?

We have touched upon this a little above by explaining the prefab house style. Let’s dig a little deeper though.

Concrete columns that have already been constructed to predefined measurements are clad with concrete panels. The panels get attached to the columns using copper wire, these columns then use the steel we referenced earlier to reinforce them. Traditionally, other types of houses were using bars for reinforcement purposes. This move to opt for steel tubing in the Airey House construction was seen as quite inspiring and revolutionary by those in the construction business.

The interior of the house is constructed with walls clad with fibreboard or plasterboard. The floor, at ground level, would be concrete whilst on the first floor-These properties never extended to a second floor-the flooring would be built from fabricated beams.

Moving back outside, the roof on an Airey house would be pitched and tend to be clad with timber or PVCU boarding using the rafter or purlin method for construction. This meant that in some houses you would find that the roof runs perpendicular from the top of the walls to the ridgeline (rafter roof) or runs parallel to the ridgeline (purlin).

The products used were commonly sourced in the UK allowing for cheaper construction costs and help reinvigorate British investment.

Can you still buy Airey houses?

You can although it isn’t quite as easy as before, houses that were built in this period under the quick build method will quite often find themselves listed on the Housing Defects Act of 1985. This means mortgages are not always possible and you may have to consult a specialist mortgage provider.

With these houses having been built quickly and cheaply, it is often thought they could be faulty; however many are still occupied today and have not suffered any issues. To be safe though and ensure you do not encounter any unwanted risks or problems when considering the purchase of an Airey house, follow the list below:

Speak to a surveyor: A surveyor will have a good knowledge of the properties in your area. In addition, they will also be able to point you towards mortgage lenders that may be able to help with the purchase of an Airey house. At the same time, if a mortgage is possible, this surveyor may be the one you could use you have your potential new house surveyed.

Be open with any mortgage lenders:  As we said before, some lenders will be hesitant to lend when it comes to securing an Airey house. If you can provide survey results that show no significant signs of damage or fault, then your lender may look more favourably. Likewise, if the survey did throw up any issues, giving your lender an honest account may allow them to make a better-informed decision or at least point you in the direction of someone else that may specialise in a suitable mortgage.

Increase your deposit value: Whenever you can show a lender that they need to part with less of their cash they are always more likely to be willing to help you out. Not to say they will, but if you are reducing your LTV they may look more favourably.

Obtain a PRC certificate:  In some cases, issues with Airey properties have meant that they required quite a substantial repair. There was a time when the government were actively purchasing these properties from the owners or investing in the necessary repairs. This scheme has now ended with most of the repair work required having been completed. It is highly recommended that you obtain a PRC certificate before applying for a mortgage. Without one, it is very unlikely you will find a mortgage for an Airey property.

What is a PRC certificate?

A PRC certificate is your way of showing a mortgage lender that the house you are looking to secure a mortgage on is safe and passes all the requirements for it to be lived in.

PRC stands for Precast Reinforced Concrete is basically what an Airey house has part of it made from. This certification is different to anything a surveyor carries out so you must obtain it as well as anything your surveyor provides you with. An approved PRC inspector must issue the certificate.

Is it worth buying an Airey house?

Ultimately that comes down to you. They aren’t quite as individual as other properties, mainly because they are a very standardized design. However, you can have work carried out on them to add extensions, you could even factor in roof replacement, have the cladding upgraded, have windows replaced or add a porch.

This can make them quite an attractive property proposition. Cheap to purchase and then with your chosen upgrades, possible to sell on at a profit.

There are not a lot of locations with Airey houses so if this classic property type is something you are after, you may have to shop around. Recent figures show that you may find higher numbers of them in cities with both Glasgow and Liverpool having higher numbers than other places.

Can I sell my Airey house?

Sometimes, much like with making a purchase, a sale of a certain property type can be a little tricky. Due to the more limited number of lenders providing mortgages for Airey houses, you may find yourself offering the property to a fairly reduced market.

That is why online estate agents like SOLD.CO.UK are often a great option. They can sell property fast and sell your house for free meaning no costs to you whatsoever.

If you own an Airey house and are considering selling. Speak to the team at SOLD.CO.UK, we are the leading online estate agent in the UK and have a proven track record in generating sales fast. Use our free house value calculator by postcode and see how much you may be able to get for your home.

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