I am looking at a house which I think is BISF. However typical plans show the main entrance door at the front, whereas the house I am looking at has the main door at the side of the house. Could this be a different type of steel framed house or is this variation possible. Are there any obvious features that would indicate that this is BISF.

Many thanks

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Hi and welcome. Probably the easiest way is to post a photo of the house or a link on Google street view if it is visible. BISF houses were always built in some numbers in each location, so even if the particular house has been heavily modified there will usually be some nearby that show some or all of the original identifiers.

There are lots of identifying features but not really any one that stands out except the canopy over the front door which I think is unique:-

  • Flat roofed steel canopy with front edge upturned and sides downturned, supported by a pair of tubular steel uprights at the front corners with a built-in railing on one side.

  • upper storey clad in vertically profiled steel to simulate timber cladding, lower storey rough textured render.

  • protruding steel surrounds round the windows and front and back door, especially round the living room window

  • Large square living room window coming down unusually close to the floor, landscape format windows in the dining room and two larger bedrooms, smaller portrait windows in kitchen, bathroom, small bedroom and landing. The size, shape and relative positions of the windows and doors is probably the main feature from the outside if the house has been heavily modified.

  • House square in plan

  • Chimney flue near centre of house from fireplace in living room on the living room/dining room wall, exiting the roof just behind the ridge, one per house. Some houses in Scotland especially have the chimney on the party wall up against the chimney of the next door house instead.

  • Fairly shallow simple pitched roof, originally covered in corrugated asbestos or other sheet material. Roof is supported by tubular steel trusses with horizontal “angle iron” purlins.

  • Vertical C-section steel stanchions visible in loft on gable wall

  • Fairly large overhang at the eaves.

  • Pressed steel staircase rather than timber, especially noticeable from underneath.

  • Built-in cupboards instead of a wall between the two main bedrooms between the flue and party wall, cupboard at each end opening into the front bedroom and middle cupboard opening into back bedroom.

Hope this helps!

  • Derek Levett

    Very many thanks for your valuable advice. The house I am looking at is in Essex, near Billericay. There is no reference to this location in the England property list, however a photo will no doubt give further clarification. I have seen a lot of figures relating to various refurbishment works but does anyone have a ball-park figure to bring an unimproved property fully up to date. Such information would be invaluable.

    Many thanks again.

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