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Hi everyone,

I’m new to the community, and I was hoping to get some information as someone looking to buy. I’ve found a house in the outskirts of Brighton which is a nice size etc, but is steel framed. I’ve read a lot of horror stories so I’m wondering what sort of things I should be looking out for, and what sort of questions I should be asking to make sure that it’s ok to buy the place. Ultimately will I just have to get a surveyor to make sure it’s ok?

Thanks for any advice =)
Joe

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Hi Joe, unfortunately I do not know much about a Trusteel house but Marc may know more about it. In general terms it seems fairly similar to a BISF house, but with the main difference that there is brickwork hiding the steel frame to give a more traditional appearance. I would expect this might make detecting any corrosion problems and fixing them more difficult, as on a BISF house serious corrosion of the stanchions usually causes the render over them to crack and fail, but if covered in brick it may not be so obvious. I would definitely seek out a surveyor who is familiar with Trusteel construction as unfortunately even many professionals who are unfamiliar with non-traditional construction can get things wrong.

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Hi Ed,

Trusteel

Thanks very much for taking the time to reply to me. The estate agent has informed us that the house is a Trusteel MK 2. Here’s a picture of the property.

Cheers
Joe

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Hi and welcome Joe.

My first question would be is it a British Iron and Steel Federation (BISF) house? There are quite a few different types of steel framed house, but the BISF is the most common. Obviously as this site is dedicated to the BISF house, everyone here will know a lot more about BISF houses than other types. Also, each different type of house has its strengths and weaknesses – BISF houses are fairly unproblematic but some other types of system-built house are more prone to problems and some are even unmortgagable in their original form (this does not apply to BISF).

A BISF house is fairly distinctive unless it has been heavily altered. Usually semi-detached but occasionally terraced. The living room window is large and square and the only window at the front downstairs. Upstairs there is a large rectangular bedroom window the same width as and directly above the living room window and a small bedroom window again directly above and the same width as the front door. Around the door and windows there are protruding steel frames (these may have been clad over) and upstairs there is profiled steel cladding (again may have been covered). Generally the shape and layout of the windows and door positions is the most distinctive thing so I would compare it with the photos on here.

As for horror stories I would ignore anything that anyone who doesn’t actually have direct experience has to say as most uninformed people will confuse a BISF house with a temporary prefab, precast reinforced concrete house, something they once heard on the TV etc. Also you will need a surveyor who has experience of BISF houses to look at it. The main problem that you may come across is that if the steel frame is seriously corroded (it rarely is but it’s not unheard of) it can be quite difficult to tell without opening up the plasterboard lining inside the house. This can be done with a boroscope, but obviously the sellers may not want the damage. I must say I din’t bother and took the chance, thinking a surveyor would probably just warn me of the problems there might be that he couldn’t actually find!

Post a photo link etc here and we’ll let you know what we think.

Ed

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