Buying first BISF house  




My partner and I are first time buyers and are looking at a BISF house this weekend. 

The house looks very well looked after, very beautifully kept inside, and looks clean and freshly painted on the outside. 

What questions should we be asking when viewing the house, and is there anything we should be looking for, or at, when viewing the house. 

I'm trying to get myself clued up on BISF houses before viewing the property. Any information regarding these houses would be lovely, such as their history, upkeep, mortgage issues (if any)

Thank you. 


4 Answers

The top part of the property hasn't been insulated and had cladding installed, that is not the cheapest of jobs to have done, You can't see the roof but make sure that has been replaced and doesn't still have the asbestos the roof as then it would be unmortgageable. Check for any cracking in the render especially in the corners of the property. It looks from the image to be a nice property.


Hello Teale and welcome.

Is it possible for you to post an image of the outside of the property before I give my thoughts please?

The reason for this is that some properties are original, some have various types of cladding fitted whilst others have EWI (external wall insulation).

It will be much easier for me to assist you once I see the property as each have their own plus and minus points including areas that require a closer look.

Best regards


If you don't want to post the images here, you can always forward the image(s) or link to the sales page directly to me by email at

Screenshot 20200215 074913  01

Hi Marc,

Thank you for your reply. 

I hope I have added the picture of the house correctly, I can get some close up shots when I view the house later today. 

Best regards,



Hello Teale, I hope the viewing went well.

John provided some great advice above before I was able to update myself, Sadly the site was down over the weekend due to a huge behind the scenes site upgrade which delayed my response.

As John previously stated, the presence of a lightweight steel roof is always a bonus because it reduces the need and cost of installing one later. These roofs tend to look like traditional roof tiles when viewed from a distance as opposed to corrugated asbestos.

As John also stated, the ground floor render should be in good condition with no horizontal cracking as seen below, as this can indicate a breakdown and possible future failure of the render mesh walls. Although it would not be difficult to remedy, the old render would need to be removed and replaced at some extra cost.

Also, check for obvious signs of corrosion around the edges of the steel cladding panels and pay special attention for any protruding domed bolt heads at various points.

Also, pay close attention to the concrete foundation plinth on the outer corners of the property if they are visible above ground. You are checking to see any signs of spawling or cracking to the concrete, which could indicate corrosion at the base of the stanchion which is located behind the corner wall junction. Once again though, if present, it can be easily repaired, but there would be cost implications.

There won't really be any visible obvious signs to look for inside the property as most surfaces are covered by the various coverings etc.
I would like to have entered the loft-space if possible and visibly check the exposed metal framework for any signs of serious corrosion, (Which is extremely rare), although a little light surface corrosion or spotting is normal and nothing to worry about.

It's also worth noting that many of these houses were built using hardboard to line the walls and fibreboard to line the ceilings, due to the scarcity of plasterboard after the war.
Hardboard panels can be a fire hazard and they too can warp over time.
Worse still is the fact that many occupants chose to disguise uneven surfaces through the application of polystyrene ceilings tiles or thick layers Artex.

If the property does have hardboard covered walls (which sound quite hollow when tapped, then just be aware that you may need to replace these surfaces with real skimmed plasterboard at a later date.


IMG 0238s
IMG 0231s

 Once gain

bisf render cracking (2)

I do hope to produce a full and extensive guide in the future. I hope this helps for now.

If you have any concerns or images you want checking, just post them here as we're always happy to help.


Scroll to Top