building valuations



London Mansion Houses


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Introduction to Mansion Houses


If you are new to London it may be the first time you have come across mansion houses. These were built in the late Victorian era and early Edwardian era from approximately 1880 to 1910. The earliest one known is Albert Hall Mansions built in 1876, the designer at the time was a British/Scottish architect called Norman Short. (Norman Short did Bedford Park as well). It was the first type of flats or apartments that we had in cities particularly London and it was a completely new venture. If you can imagine moving from very large houses, far bigger than most of us are used to into smaller properties, there had to be ways to entice people into them and this they did by having the grand outer fascia of large windows, they rose often four to six storeys or more, some of them having turrets or very steep slate roofs and very grand entrances very much as you would have had in spectacular properties at the time. Many still have that grandeur but some don't.


Problems with mansions house flats and apartments

From a surveying point of view there are all sorts of problems that we have found with mansion house flats and apartments that can occur dependent upon how well they have been maintained. Everything from lack of a budget to carry out any maintenance at all to wrongly maintained areas where builders are not aware of how to deal with older properties. Through the years as well they will have had various modifications for example that include asbestos. The sheer cost of high level work can cause problems particularly where all owners, be they leaseholders or shared freeholders have to contribute. We have dealt in the past with mansion blocks where repair costs have been in the hundreds of thousands. Even where there are a lot of people occupying them the costs are still quite substantial particularly where they haven't built up a fund of money via the sinking fund. Indeed any high level work such as repairs to render or brickwork (often we find cement mortar has been used to bond a soft red brick which has then caused deterioration) or windows have deteriorated at high level simply because they haven't been painted because they can't be without four, five or six storeys of scaffolding which in itself costs thousands of pounds, if not tens of thousands of pounds.


Building Survey on Mansion Flats and Apartments

We will carry out a building survey on such properties looking not only at the apartment itself but at the mansion block in general. We have only touched upon the sorts of problems that can occur. We haven't mentioned such things as noise transfer that occurs in some of these properties, blocked waste pipes and downpipes, rusting cast iron gutters and soil and vent pipes.



West Hampstead has a number of mansion blocks that fall both into the good category, the average category and the poor category.



The mansion blocks idea was first developed in France . It came about due to the Industrial Revolution associated population boom and the need to house people in the main areas. It should be remembered that it was a big step in the Victorian era for the wealthy (upper class with their own servants) so there literally was an upstairs/downstairs mentality.


How were mansion house flats built?

The construction was relatively advanced using concrete and a concrete frame. There was a variety of additives. The mansions were so popular that the London Building Act of 1890 and 1894 put height restrictions on them (typically these are five or six storeys in height). We have heard them described as the first time that types of different people of different ages and classes were gathered together in one place. They did however have the convenience of central locations, a grand and spectacular building far cheaper than a house.


Independent Surveyors

If you truly do want an independent expert opinion from ad surveyor on a mansion flat then it is important to make sure that you use a surveyor who has experience of mansion flats and we certainly wouldn't recommend a Home Buyers Report as these don't usually look at the property as a whole and therefore can miss major problems. We can also offer advice on valuations of mansion flats as well as structural engineers reports and engineers reports on mansion flats. For free friendly advice call us on free phone 0800 298 5424.

We hope you found this article on surveying mansion flats of interest and if you have any experiences that you feel should be added to this article that would benefit others, or you feel that some of the information that we have put is wrong then please do not hesitate to contact us (we are only human).

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