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I’d love to hear members accounts of how they came to live in a BISF house.

Did you buy it yourself or did it belong to your family or perhaps your renting and have lived in one for years?

What did you think when you first laid eyes on your house and what is it that you like and dislike most about living in these rather unique homes?

I have found that all of my neighbours love their homes with a passion and in a way that I have never witnessed before from any other brick type home.

So what is it that you love about yours?

Please share your views or memories with me, I’d love to hear from you.

Trish

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This is an interesting question! My first encounter with a BISF house was about ten years ago when my boyfriend lived in one as a shared house while at uni. The doorway between the living and dining room had been closed up so that the front room could be used as a fourth bedroom. The wall between the kitchen and dinning room had been removed and overall it was rather neglected. He had the back bedroom. I was quite intrigued by its unusual features such as the built in cupboard that seemed to go through into the other room (I never saw the front bedroom and how it was between two more in there). At the time I assumed that the downstairs walls were masonry and only the upstairs was some sort of prefabrication, but I didn’t think much more about it.

Quite a few years later I saw this house advertised in an estate agent window and on impulse arranged to see it. We weren’t looking to buy a home at the time so I’m not sure what brought it on, but I recognised it as being the same as the previous one which is only a few hundred metres away. The previous owner had lived here since the house was built till his death. It was empty and neglected but I immediately liked it.

It had a ‘homely’ feel that is difficult to describe. I liked the layout and unique features like the parquet floor, built in cupboards, 1940s 4-panel doors, picture rails and windows above the doors, which hadn’t been destroyed because of the neglect. Lots of things are quirky and different and make the rooms more than dull boxes. Many people who are not familiar with BISF houses will say that they are difficult to work on, but I think the opposite is the case. They’re just different and once you accept that it’s fine.

There are only a few small things I don’t like. Because the house faces North and there is no window in the hall, it s quite dark in there. I think the original front door probably had more glass. Because of the arrangement of doors, window and fireplace in the living room, it makes seating arrangement awkward. Most people seem to put a sofa in front of the window which I really don’t like – feels strange having your back to the window and something blocking the view. Instead I’m planning to take out the fireplace and flue so we can have seating on that wall and also round the corner so it will face towards the window.

Ed

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Hello Trish

What an interesting question you ask.

My first encounter with a BISF house came as a bit of a shock if I’m honest as I had never seen one of these houses before.

My parents were publicans and I had lived in various very large public houses all my life until the age of 16, when sadly my Father suffered a heart attack, forcing early retirement.
Due to lack of savings they had to turn to the Council to assist with housing and subsequently were were allocated a house near Sutton Coldfield.

In 1981 we pulled up outside the given address and before us stood our new home, it was of course a BISF house in full original condition, with hardboard walls that bowed in and out in the living room. Their was an open coal fireplace in the living room complete with back boiler. Walking into the kitchen we were greeted by large tall fitted steel cupboards and a red quarry tile floor.

My first thought was what the hell have we done! This house looks crazy compared to any other house I had ever been inside before and with the outside appearance of a bomb shelter.

We had no choice but to move in and over proceeding decades we refurbished the house to a level of comfort that suited us as a family.

Sure enough we gained a lot of affection for the house over the years and despite its quirky nature it provided us with a easy to maintain home.
We eventually bought the house from the Council under the right to buy scheme and shortly after we also purchased the house next door with the initial view of converting the two properties into one large house.
However financially it made more sense to renovate and sell the property next door which is what we did.

During the years out house has given us many wonderful memories and I always love to speak with some of our elder neighbours as many actually witnessed these housing being built in 1946 with the help of various prisoners of war. I’ve tried searching for archived images of our houses being built but sadly these appear to be non existent but who knows what the future may hold.

Marc

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