annaevans1

Anyone got any good ideas for making an ex council house look cool?

Anna Evans
6 years ago
With the shortage of affordable properties and houses in the UK, ex council style houses are becoming a premium to buy. I personally see them as ugly and drab but appreciate the space and plot size. Does anyone have any examples where people have spruced them up (especially from the exterior) and made them look uber modern?

Comments (60)

  • Anna Evans
    Original Author
    6 years ago
    @timsummers @kerry Wow doubled the price - that's amazing. Hmm very interesting. Thanks for your input!
  • Marc Haslam
    6 years ago
    Insulate externally and clad in timber? Materials are cheap and the more adventurous could do this themselves. Depending on you location and Local Authorty, you won't need planning approval as the changes would be covered by Permitted Development legislation.
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  • nicole3238
    6 years ago

    Actually I don't agree that council houses won't make money. In the end it is all about location. I think that you should paint it white or cream to cover the pebble dash. My recommendation would be a light cream, because it will look smart with the white window frames. We did this to our house which looked hideous and it completely changed its kerb appeal. If you wanted it to look more modern maybe a chalky pale grey/blue. If you had the money some prettier white windows might help, but these ones should be fine. I would paint the door a chalky pale blue, grey or a pale sage green. I would replace the fence with a white picket fence and put hanging baskets on each side of the door. Or wooden pots painted the same colour as the door with bay trees or conifers of some sort on either side of the door. Paint the concrete over the door in white. This may not be uber modern but it would look great. A house down the road from ours did all of this and it looks great - smart, clean, and inside theirs is very modern. It might encourage your neighbours to paint their pebble dash too. In London ex council houses are going for over a million pounds, if you plan to hang on to it for a while, depending on where the house is its very likely to make money.

  • PRO
    Peden & Pringle Ltd
    6 years ago
    Both these photographs are from a former council house that my husband & I renovated some time ago. The room sizes were super for the money we had available at the time. When it came to selling everyone (estate agents) were doom & gloom however we sold within a week & got £20k more than anyone ever thought we would in a difficult market. Sadly I don't have any exterior shots but we kept the front simple with a lovely hit & miss fence & some well positioned pot plants (that moved with us to our next property). My recommendation is to keep it simple. Good luck!
  • PRO
    colourhappy
    6 years ago

    Tim Summers - I couldn't agree more. I live in Cambridge too and have noticed a house for sale in Grantchester for £800,000. It's an ex council house and a semi. Crazy prices.

  • PRO
    Corinne Young Textiles
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I have an ex Council house in a great rural position. Sure, the outside could be prettier (though it is much nicer than the ones in the pic), but it was affordable, and is light, bright, warm, spacious and is on a good sized plot. What's not to love? Here are some pics of the interior - http://www.corinneyoungtextiles.co.uk

    Portfolio · More Info

    Portfolio · More Info

    Portfolio · More Info

    Portfolio · More Info

  • Anna Evans
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    @Tim Summers I love the garden of your old house especially. Wow your new house is impressive. You certainly did well!

  • Anna Evans
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    @The Garden Room Wow you have great style. Your house has loads of character which I love!

  • mysantuary
    6 years ago

    Change the windows - ex-council houses tend to have very plain, bare faced fronts, so adding windows that are high spec and have detail in them eg/ Georgian windows will lift the face considerably. We've recently bought a similar property in a really expensive area next to an out-standing school and boy did we have to pay a lot for it. Currently going through a complete renovation and as mentioned any high spec fittings to beautify the lack of detail help considerably. If you are allowed, a clean crisp rendering will also make a huge difference as will adding dimension through a porch. Good luck!

  • Anna Evans
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    @Camilla Pringle Interiors I LOVE your grey wall and fireplace. I think I just need to have faith in my style and I love clean lines so I think you are right to keep it simple.

  • Anna Evans
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    @mysantuary that's exactly it. The house we have our eye on has an amazing school, train close by. It's location, location, location but I just need to move past the fact I'm not buying the gorgeous Victorian/Georgian houses I grew up in. Are you in the M25 per chance?

  • Gary
    6 years ago
    I think it depends on location... We bought a 1950's semi-detached that is in a row of 14 properties in a semi-rural location (beyond the row are cottages). The properties look out on fields front and back, so view and location are good. They do look a bit drab though. We did a few things:
    1. Repaint - white, this freshened up the render.
    2. Replaced hideous white upvc front door with something a bit different which has a hint of mid-century
    3. Replaced similarly hideous white upvc windows with antracite aluminium
    4. Replaced rear french doors (same white upvc) with hard wood painted anthracite

    Luckily, because its a semi and our neighbours have gone for white render, grey windows (albeit they luckily have the original crittal metal windows fitted in the 50's) it doesnt stand out too much... In a terrace or on an estate it would be harder i feel.

    We still have plenty more to do on the outside (front and rear gardens need a revamp and tidy up)... But main exterior and total interior refurb are done.

    Few v.poor photos attached showing before and after (although the after shots are a bit out of date) and a snap from distance
  • Gary
    6 years ago
    Few more photos
  • Anna Evans
    Original Author
    6 years ago
    @gary You've really inspired me - thanks! Your house looks like a very fresh faced cottage, how beautiful. I especially like your kitchen too.
  • Gary
    6 years ago
    Thanks Anna, it certainly looks better than it did... Funnily enough someone knocked on the door and asked where we got the windows and door from the other day, so i guess it's got some small amount of kerb appeal... TBH i no longer have any idea if it looks good or not, all i see is the hours of work (and money) put in... Think i need a break ;)

    Back on topic though, to echo most other comments... The extra space, internally and externally, does offset drab looks to some degree... It's a shame more streets/communities stuck in drab houses dont work as a collective and do some wholesale refurb, there used be a TV show that got whole streets to undertake cosmetic exterior work to see if they could raise the value of all properties on it... I just remember the arguments and grief between the neighbours!
  • info7083
    6 years ago

    I've just read a great book by Sarah Thompson called Style Council, Inspirational Interiors In Ex-Council Homes... which has some really lovely ideas, although they're mostly in flats rather than houses like yours, and also concentrates on the inside rather than the exterior. Having said that, it's a fun read and might enthuse you about your property's potential.

  • mysantuary
    6 years ago

    @ Anna Evans thanks, Anna. We are just outside the M25 in 'Little Chalfont', where the schools and fast links into London make for sky high property prices. Location is key so I think you've done the right thing, though I sympathise re: the giving up the beautiful house thing! My daughter has just started in reception though and being able to walk a few minutes to school is proving amazing....

  • PRO
    Pen Aber Consulting
    6 years ago

    There are lot's of possibilities for revitalizing the appearance, some of them have been mentioned above. You can change the render colour and texture, clad the building in a different material, change the windows and doors, add a porch, add dormers or change the fenestration arrangements. The picture below isn't an ex council house but it was a very uninspiring bungalow and we managed to nearly double the floor space and improve the appearance also.


    Portfolio · More Info

  • hilly_mcgrew
    6 years ago

    http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-50603911.html

    You can't always add value. We bought ours in 2010, at the bottom of the market, for not much less than it is for sale for now. In rural Northumberland we haven't been able to take advantage of skyrocketing prices that we keep hearing about in the South East.

    The exterior of our late 1960s semi is pretty unforgivable, and the internal dimensions combined with a tiny plot size meant that we couldn't expand externally, or internally. We did a lot to it over the years: removed ALL the textured wallpaper, repainted and refloored throughout (decor was old lady circa 1987) installed built in shelves and a woodburning stove in the living room, painted the drab brown kitchen cupboards, removed the strip lighting, and dedicated endless hours to improving the garden.

    The thing is, we didn't fit the house or the area. No one else on our estate seemed remotely interested in improving their own houses so all we managed was to make our house stick out for having a garden instead of a patch of red gravel or dandelions out front. As our family grew, we knew we'd have to move as we couldn't extend the space.

    Now, we live in a gorgeous Edwardian terraced house with potential to expand, enough garden for our children to play in, neighbours who are not only lovely but who also care about the appearance of their properties, and great big views out of every window.

    We've learned a lot (don't buy a house you can afford just to get onto the property ladder; don't compromise on aspects of a house that are important to you) and I would never, ever consider buying an ex-council house again.

  • PRO
    Corinne Young Textiles
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Hi @Anna Evans.Many thanks for your lovely words about my home - so glad you like my style. @Hilly_Mcgrew - I sympathise with your problems, but would you not say that a lot of these were due to the all important 'location' rather than the ex council aspect? My ex council house (also in the North) backs onto fields, and is in a lovely village with a great school. All my neighbours, including the ones whose homes are still owned by the Council, are very house proud and keen gardeners.

    So glad you have found a home to be happy in. Having said all this, my preference is for old houses with character, but space and light are more important to me.

  • hilly_mcgrew
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Hi @The_Garden_Room, I totally agree with you, location is vital. But the physical and geographical location are only part of the story. Like you, our ex-council house backs onto fields. It faces onto them too (or at least, you can still see a bit of greenery past where our opposite neighbour chose to build a kitchen extension across most of his garden, blocking out most of our view of greenery). The estate also has a brilliant park for the kids. On paper, it was a great purchase. But there are things you can only find out about by living in a property, and I'm glad that you were lucky with your neighbours but sadly we weren't. Our attached neighbour used to hang out of her back bedroom window to smoke, so the smell didn't drift into her house. Instead, it blew into our daughter's bedroom. Mr Kitchen Extension opposite left his barky dog out. All. Night. His idea of external decor was a pot of dead daffodils (spring) or soil (summer through winter) and a Union Flag mounted on his front wall during the World Cup. Next door but one kept an upturned three piece suite as some sort of garden ornamentation - for a year - before it was removed. They also filled their back garden with old kitchen appliances (possibly due to a lack of space at the front with the sofas, plus a leilandii that was as tall as their house when we moved in). I think they had a window underneath it somewhere. They also used to enjoy swearing loudly at each other. Not a healthy atmosphere for raising our children in. I only mention these people because - at least on this particular ex-council estate - the people had moved in when the estate was built they are as much of the estate as the housing itself. Some had exercised right to buy, some were still council tenants, but they had all been born and bred on that estate.

    I get that where there is a high demand for housing, these places are being gentrified, with prices rising and people's expected standards of living improving, I just don't think that you can say it is halo ending everywhere. Council housing was built well, and built to last, but it takes a community who collectively take pride in their surroundings before a drab, ugly council estate can be anything other than what it is.

    Like you, I craved space and light, but 7ft ceilings don't get you much of either. Not to mention some of the charming original features, such as the asbestos tiles, upstairs and down. You could uproot that house and put it where I am now, in a superb location, but it wouldn't make up for what the house itself lacked.

  • TwoHearts
    6 years ago
    @Tim Summers well done :-)
  • frango1
    6 years ago
    @gary have you not posted your house before stating that you painted the upvc windows?? did you do that then or replace them??
  • sandrac74
    6 years ago

    Hi guys. Just thought I'd show my 'before' and 'after'. We changed the window style from casement to sash and rebuilt the front porch to add interest. It also increased the amount of light in the house really significantly. Now it's not as much of an eyesore as it was when we first bought it!

  • Gary
    6 years ago
    @frango... Front were new Aluminium windows...it was the rear windows that I left as upvc and painted anthracite...
  • Gary
    6 years ago
    @sandrac, thats a v.impressive transformation! I wish I could have justified getting the crittal windows I wanted... But one window cost almost the same as the 5 aluminium ones I bought... But they would have really transformed the house!
  • PRO
    ADG Studio Ltd
    6 years ago

    If it was me I would be a bit nervous of an ultra modern transformation on
    the council terrace, recouping the value of investment is one issue, but also
    the property will stick out like a sore thumb unless others start doing the
    same. that said it’s nice to see someone doing something special with their
    pocket garden. I like the idea of a hedge, hanging baskets around the door,
    topiary, re-pebble dash if it needs it, possibly paint over with a white lime
    wash, but again consider whether that would be too conspicuous.

    The street has its own character, and you wouldn’t want an ultra modern
    facelift that looked out of place, but you can still do something to make it
    look nice, which with any luck others will follow and you'll upgrade the whole neighbourhood!

  • PRO
    Akiva Projects Ltd
    6 years ago

    Hello Anna,

    I believe that any house after renovation or a re design can become a dream home. You should not feel limited as with a bit of creativity and imagination you can bring the most out of your house. People showed some examples as well to prove this.

    StJames Design Interiors

  • PRO
    colourhappy
    6 years ago

    Sometimes the property sticking out like a sore thumb actually is the catalyst for others to follow suit. It's certainly happened in Cambridge.

  • irenecb
    6 years ago

    Council houses are massively overlooked and put down, maybe stigmatised when they usually are solid and serve their purpose, I think the most important thing about any homes exterior is for its occupant to have pride in where you live and respect for the community. You would be amazed at how a little love can go a long way. Small budgets can go a long way also. I will give an example- My husband is from the Lake district and we go back and visit family often. When we visit he always heads for Keswick and usually parks the car near a small council estate so that he can climb a local mountain.(I'm usually off to mooch around the craft/coffee shops). The houses look just like the one above pictured, grey pebble dash. however, the gardens are outstanding, full of gorgeous plants bursting with life and colour, immaculate hedges, your eyes are drawn to the gorgeous gardens away from the pebble dash. I think if the exterior of a house isn't pleasant and you have budget to fix it then do so but only if it fits into its surroundings without jarring or over - competing, that can look tacky, sending out a message to your neighbours that 'we think we are better than you, don't want to live here so we will make our garish statement' !!!. I guess I'm saying modest in-keeping changes or disguise with nature/plants. However, I really think that nature can heal and soothe a less than pretty or perfect exterior. I am a massively in favour of putting plants everywhere. They lift everything, help to sooth and put life into perspective. I think where ever you live your homes exterior should say that its loved by its inhabitants. Nothing looks more welcoming than the whole community where you live having welcoming well maintained front gardens.

  • PRO
    Rumbold-Ayers landscape designers
    6 years ago

    Hmm... the architectural proportions of council houses are more contemporary, rather than traditional. A combination of white render (ground floor) and fiber cement weatherboard cladding - e.g. "Hardiplank" - (first floor) would look very smart, with perhaps replacement dark grey window frames? Both render, cladding and replacement windows can be combined with insulation upgrades, so they would have a payback - might even be grants available? A crisply trimmed evergreen hedge, e.g. yew, enclosing a smart front garden would round off the appearance from the road. The biggest challenge with (ex) council houses is they're almost all semi-detached or terraced, and you would really want to get your neighbour(s) to do the same to their house - not always straightforward!

  • PRO
    Direct Trade Supplies
    6 years ago

    Fit it with loads of colour changing LED strip lights inside. It'll be galactic.

  • Anna Evans
    Original Author
    6 years ago
    @hilly_mcgrew you are right in that you can change your house and not your neighbours. House buying is all about lessons learnt. My dream house is Victorian/Georgian but not at the £1mil+ cost that they are in SW London.
  • stevebrown1939
    6 years ago
    @gary ... I am in the process of painting my composite door. I have ordered some of the Zinnser Bulseye 1 2 3 primer but I'm unsure what to use for a top coat. I'm looking for anthracite grey (ral 7016 or similar). Can you help. Yours look great btw! ;)
  • stevebrown1939
    6 years ago
    @Tim Summers ... You must be really happy with your new home it's lovely. We were not so lucky to buy ours from the council it was already bought before so the first buyer will have taken a chunk of the profit. However, we had it valued after the 1st year and the value has increased by about £40 grand. We are in a very nice area on the outskirts of the Yorkshire Moors near to a very good grammar school and our neighbours are nice too so we are going to improve this house and stay for a while whilst overpaying the mortgage, then hopefully we will eventually move into something lovely like your new house.
    It's unbelievable the difference in prices between here and Cambridge though!
  • Gary
    6 years ago
    @steve, I used a mylands exterior paint in anthracite... Seems to be holding up ok... Same paint on french doors @ back of house.
  • Gary
    6 years ago
    PS it was a satin wood paint and the anthracite was a custom colour.
  • hos123
    6 years ago
    I bought an ex council property in London 7 years ago. The previous owner bought it off the council so they get the discount I paid £190 now I see in the same road they sold £420. Although I have upgrade so areas since moving but never value it since I can't afford to move. However I am surprised to what you can achieve with the space if you are willing to spend a little. Porches to the front and a nice front door with tidy garden or plant will make a huge difference.
  • Catherine Hounslow
    4 years ago

    Paint it ,replace windows ,plenty of foliage and flowers . Possibly new door and a nice porch and you wont recognise it !

  • PRO
    Akiva Projects Ltd
    4 years ago
    Mostly likely you don’t have high ceilings so remove any low hanging lights and pendants for nice bright LED downlighting!
  • natashahall1
    4 years ago

    Very much budget dependant. You might want to have a look at the Ugly Houses (channel 4 ) episode where they completely reworked an ex council house. It looked very impressive at the end but at a huge cost. Probably there would be elements that would work here. One particular feature was to externally wrap the pebble dash and render which seemed to massively improve the heat efficiency while giving a lovely finish to the property. Building a porch was also a must have.

  • Huw Buckley
    3 years ago

    I'm renovating at ex-council semi and love it! Would have one of these anyday over a new build! If you can post the floorplan and dimensions, I can come up with some ideas :)

  • Isobel Johnson
    3 years ago
    I live in the Scottish Borders and three years ago there was a government incentive to externally insulate the houses. Due to the construction of the houses (poured concrete they couldn’t have cavity wall insulation ) . The difference to the heating bills is unbelievable but the look of the house is fabulous as there was new render put on new window sills and down pipes .i agree with the comment that just doing one house would stand out like a sore thumb but it just takes one to start the ball rolling . Maybe speak to your neighbours and they may want to do the same . All the houses in my street had the cladding and it has transformed the look of the street .
    I have since revamped my lounge and kitchen. There was nothing wrong with the kitchen cupboards so they where painted ,new work tops and sink . I did have a breakfast bar that took up a lot of room which I have replaced with a glass table . My next project is my bedroom which is getting refitted with new wardrobes and draws .
    Ex local authority houses are well built and have big rooms , they are worth buying as you can do so much with them ,I have bigger cupboards than the rooms that are in some new builds .
  • Isobel Johnson
    3 years ago
    I live in the Scottish Borders and three years ago there was a government incentive to externally insulate the houses. Due to the construction of the houses (poured concrete they couldn’t have cavity wall insulation ) . The difference to the heating bills is unbelievable but the look of the house is fabulous as there was new render put on new window sills and down pipes .i agree with the comment that just doing one house would stand out like a sore thumb but it just takes one to start the ball rolling . Maybe speak to your neighbours and they may want to do the same . All the houses in my street had the cladding and it has transformed the look of the street .
    I have since revamped my lounge and kitchen. There was nothing wrong with the kitchen cupboards so they where painted ,new work tops and sink . I did have a breakfast bar that took up a lot of room which I have replaced with a glass table . My next project is my bedroom which is getting refitted with new wardrobes and draws .
    Ex local authority houses are well built and have big rooms , they are worth buying as you can do so much with them ,I have bigger cupboards than the rooms that are in some new builds .
    This is my kitchen, it is so much lighter and more space . The back board is the same as the work top , so no tiles to grout .
  • E D
    3 years ago

    Gosh, this is actually thread from nearly three years ago...

  • PRO
    VATRAA
    last year

    Hi there,


    We've just completed the refurbishment of an ex-council house in Bermondsey and it turned out amazing. Please have a look on our website: https://www.vatraa.com/ex-council-house-renovation/


    Bogdan from VATRAA Architecture

  • HU-921750940
    last year

    Ive been doing some refurbs to my ex council home, everyone loves the retro look to the livingroom!


  • E D
    last year

    I think your TV should be a black and white! 📺 😄

    But seriously, it does look lovely, HU-921750940

  • Sarah L
    7 months ago

    6 year old thread resurrected

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