Question for our UK members re: Housing developments?...

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by todd s, Feb 4, 2006.

  1. todd s

    todd s Lead Actor

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    I was looking at the paper today and their is a whole section devoted to new housing developments. Most are standard 3-4 bdrm with garage and basements. I have always been curious about what housing developments look like in UK or anywhere else in Europe...Are they similar style homes? Do most have basements(or what I like to call future home theaters)? And while I know housing prices can vary dramatically....what they usually cost?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Rob Gillespie

    Rob Gillespie Producer

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    Houses tend to be bigger in the US (same as everything else). Land is much more expensive over here as are building costs. Also, houses here are generally built of brick whereas wooden construction is common your side of the pond. Semi-detached (you call them duplex?) are probably considered the 'norm' here. Detatched houses are generally a lot more expensive. As for basements - not common in modern houses.

    Prices have skyrocketted over the past few years to the point where it's nigh on impossible for a first time buyer to get something on their own on a low to average salary. In your average kind of suburban area around a major city you wont get a 1-2 bed flat for less than £100k. For a 2-3 bed semi house expect £140k upwards. Detatched, probably £160k upwards with over £200k being more common . Location means everything and prices can vary a lot for similar properties in different areas. My own 2-bed maisonette (upper floow flat with ground-floor entry and no communal areas) cost £92.5k at end of 2002. It's now worth almost £130k.

    Oh, anything in the south-east (i.e. around London) will cost more. Nobody can afford to buy in the central parts of London unless they're on city-banking type salaries.

    The cost of living generally over here is higher than in the US, especially when it comes to fuel and public transport. However, we don't have to get our credit cards out every time we go to the hospital [​IMG]
     
  3. andrew markworthy

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    Speak for yourself, dearie. [​IMG]

    What Rob says is correct, but just to add a few details to it. As regards what our homes look like, try 'Fish4Homes' 'Redrow' or 'Barratts' in a search engine to get an idea of the specs of a typical new home in the UK. If you want to know what a typical Brit middle class housing estate looks like, have a look at the start of any of the first three Harry Potter films - the Dursleys live in a typical middle class neighbourhood (though on Mr Dursley's salary as a company director, you'd think he'd have bought something bigger by now). Oh yes - the first thing an aspirational Brit family does when they have a little bit of money is to add a conservatory on the back of their house no matter how ridiculous it looks or impractical it is.

    A lot of very recent Brit houses are townhouses. The Brit government has woken up to the fact that land is scarce and townhouses have a smaller 'footprint' so you can get more houses on the same building site. We have a townhouse and love it, but if you don't like stairs and want a large garden, then forget it.

    I have no idea why we have fewer cellars here. They were commonplace up to the 1930s, but since then they seem to have disappeared from new houses. It *may* have been an economy measure during rebuilding after WWII and because people seemed not to miss cellars, they fell out of fashion.

    One final thing - the only people who can afford a typical peasant's cottage with thatched roof and oak beamed walls (i.e. what many non-Brits think of as a 'typical' English home) are either successful computer programmers working from home or filthy rich bankers who like to have a weekend retreat to get away from it all. Many of our more picturesque villages have lost their indigenous populations over the last few years because the locals cannot afford to pay the prices city slickers can. [​IMG] And said city slickers may only be using the property for a few weekends a year. [​IMG] Some parts of the country now have local laws banning outsiders from buying property unless it is going to be their main residence.

    With regard to the specific costs of houses, the average UK house price is £180,000. Rob's statement about prices is true for many parts of the country, but there are strong geographical differences. Rob has correctly identified the typical sort of prices and the horrendously expensive South East of England (I have had to turn down a couple of plum jobs in the SE in the past beause I simply couldn't afford anything unless I really wanted the house next to the crack dealer's (but hey, I'm only a university professor with full tenure). Elsewhere prices vary according to the usual criteria. An especial consideration is whether they are in the catchment area for a good school (Brit schools vary from superb down to so-called sink schools). Being in the area for the right school can in some cases double the value of your house.
     
  4. todd s

    todd s Lead Actor

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    Thanks for the info guys. I am really suprised with the lack of basements in newer homes. Especially, with the lack of footprints for the houses. Andrew, after reading Rob's post. I was going to mention the houses from the Harry Potter movies...then I read your post. [​IMG]
    I am dying to visit England. I have had 3 trips planned over the past 15 years and they have all had to be cancelled. Now that I have young kids. They only want to go to Disney. But, I am determined to go and hopefully will in the next couple of years. My wife went on a HS trip so for years she wasn't thrilled to go. Not because she didn't like it. But, she wanted to go to places she hasn't been. But, recently after hearing from friends and shows we have seen...she seems to be wanting to go back.
     
  5. Rob Gillespie

    Rob Gillespie Producer

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    Depends what exactly you want to see here, Todd. Surely you're not planning a familiy holiday to inspect the typical British home? [​IMG]

    Seriously though, please don't just stay in London if possible. This country has a lot more of interest than what's in the capitol.
     
  6. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    The lack of basements is not just cultural, but due to local soil conditions. For example when I moved to the Dallas area from Michigan, I moved from an area where pretty much all homes had basements to one where almost none did.

    The reason turned out to be the unstable soil, which causes foundation problems even without basements.
     
  7. todd s

    todd s Lead Actor

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    Rob, I was hoping to tour England with a real estate agent as my tour guide. But, seriously. While I will probably stay in London. I would like to take some day trips. I wanted to go to Porstmouth.


    Lew, I can understand. My brother lives in California..where earthquakes make basements not a good idea. And a buddy of mine lives in Florida. Where the high water table would make a basement a pool.
     
  8. andrew markworthy

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    On your head be it!

    A day trip to Portsmouth from London, eh? If you are planning to journey anywhere around the UK, and don't fancy driving (and unless you have a death wish, I wouldn't recommend driving in London), then you are stuck with our trains or coaches. There's a useful site here which will give you train times (and prices - you may need smelling salts on hand). By train, London to Portsmouth should take about an hour and a half each way (dep: London Waterloo in case you're interested).

    Be warned that at peak commuter times, trains are unbelievably crowded, and not much better outside these times. If you travel first class, things are generally pleasant, but for those of us in standard (aka cattle) class, seats are cramped, carriages are dirty, and at no extra expense, at least one loud-mouthed moron conducting tedious conversations on a mobile phone for the whole of the journey. Take your pick from: junior manager phoning clients and colleagues and imagining that this is impressing the hell out of the other passengers; airhead talking about her plans for the weekend; and the perennial favourite - clearly mentally disturbed man with foghorn voice giving a mind-numbingly literal description of what he's doing ('I'm on a train'; 'I'm travelling to see my mum', etc).

    Enjoy your visit. [​IMG]
     
  9. todd s

    todd s Lead Actor

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    I will feel like I am on a NYC subway during rush hour. [​IMG]

    Seriously, I did look into taking a train. And it might be worth to upgrade to first class. Thanks for the info.
     
  10. Grant B

    Grant B Producer

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    It's been awhile since I lived in the UK but a few things I noticed that I doubt have changed much.
    If something is $13.00 in the US; it's 13 pounds (or close) in the UK. Depending on the exchange rate usually from 1.5 to 2; thats how much more expensive it is.

    At the time I was making 2 to 3 times the amount of an average engineer working along side me.
    I had a hard time understanding how they could live in their own country. You will stop complaining about gas prices when you see the price over there. Luckily I was considered NATO under the contract I went over on and had gas coupons were we paid US prices at UK gas stations. I think if the locals found out we would have been killed for them.
    Trains are great if you are going to; or coming from London.
    Most of the time you'll end up transfering in London except for Glasgow to Edinburgh. Even trains from York going to Blackpool will go to London on Sundays This is like going Detroit to Pittsburgh tranfering in New York.
     
  11. andrew markworthy

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    Until recently I'd have said that it's not quite as bad as it may seem, and that remember that we don't have to pay for health or dental care, and university education was free. Now things aren't quite as rosy. University fees have been introduced, finding a dentist willing to work for the National Health Service is about as easy as finding rocking horse droppings (the government demands an insane amount of paperwork these days, so many dentists just can't face the extra hassle), and queues for many routine medical operations are literally years long (e.g. my mom was told she could have a hip replacement paid for by the state - but by the time they could do the operation the hip would be inoperable, so would she consider having a private operation?).
     
  12. Mort Corey

    Mort Corey Supporting Actor

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    Wow...that sounds a lot like California's great experiment with electric utility "deregulation". They fixed it so good that consumer prices skyrocketed, the former utility companies were near bankruptcy and the lights went out. [​IMG]

    Mort
     
  13. Matt Stryker

    Matt Stryker Screenwriter

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    Another key factor in basement/no basement at least in the US is the frost depth. Homes in the southern states typicallly have a frost line as low as 1"-3" (FL especially), so during construction not much excavation is needed for the foundations. Further north, the frost depth can be almost 4 feet; so it is often not that much of an additional cost to dig another few feet and install a basement.

    The conservatory thing is fascinating and funny at the same time. Kind of sounds like how rabid Americans are to demolish and rebuild their kitchens.
     
  14. andrew markworthy

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    Oh, we change our kitchens as well. The evening TV schedules are full of adverts for new kitchens. And then there are the door to door salesmen, the newspaper adverts, etc, etc.

    One of the most predictable things about aspirational middle class couples in the UK is that about five years after they move into a house they will put a conservatory on it (the reason they don't do it sooner is because at first the mortgage repayments are too crippling and they have to wait until their salaries have risen enough).

    A conservatory is the great signifier that you have arrived in to middle class smugness (it used to be a second car). Said conservatory will be a mock Victorian design with the two principal differences that (1) the structure will be about a tenth of the size of a genuine Victorian conservatory and (2) will be out of keeping with the architectural style of the house. The structure will be put up regardless of its practicality (thus, a south facing conservatory which will be unlivable in during the summer months unless you really do like living in a fetid greenhouse will be considered okay, because it's a conservatory).

    Furniture for the conservatory will typically consist of some splintery rickety cane furniture more in keeping with a down at heel retirement home in the tropics. If the owners have kids, it will rapidly descend into being a playroom because only kids are sufficiently imperveous to temperature variations to enjoy using it. Alternatively, the more pretentious owners will use it as a dining room for entertaining special guests (with the result that everyone overlooking the house can see what you're serving for dinner).

    Please don't think I'm against conservatories or that everyone who has one is a deluded snob. They can be wonderful and I know some very nice unpretentious people who have them. But in the UK at least they've become something of a middle class cliche (I don't think it's any accident that the Dursleys have one in the Harry Potter films).
     
  15. todd s

    todd s Lead Actor

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    Hey, if a conservatory is good enough for the Dursleys...its good enough for me. [​IMG]
     
  16. Grant B

    Grant B Producer

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    I had a hard time finding one that would wash his hands. I swear some of their equipment was right out of the "Victorian weapons and Evil Devices Ltd" catalogue.
    I had the bad luck to live in the hell hole andrew had fled in his early days.
    Sort of the English equivilent of our West Virginia.
    The evil backwater of Cumbria. Where the sheep are scared and better looking then the women.
     
  17. andrew markworthy

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    Careful what you say, because one of them is a close friend of my mom and dad! Having said that, I didn't lose my fear of the dentist's until I moved away from home and found a dentist on my own. Brit dentists, contrary to the myth, are perfectly okay and are no better or worse than elsewhere. As I've explained before, the reason why Brit teeth seem at times so awful is because we had an obsession until a few years ago about teeth looking 'real' at all costs. When we got a national health service in the late 1940s, people were (literally) queueing up to get false teeth. Gleaming white regularly spaced teeth became synonymous with cheap dentures, and people did anything to avoid this. I'm reasonably unusual for my age group (40s) in having a fair amount of cosmetic dentistry. I had all my cappings replaced a couple of years ago, and in choosing the shade for the new teeth, my dentist asked me if I wanted to look natural or American. It's only in recent years that teeth whitening and cosmetic dentistry have really caught on in the UK.


    Incidentally, Grant, I think you'd be amazed at the salaries of the top engineers at the shipyard now. They are earning salaries that are large even by US standards. The local paper when I last looked at it a couple of weeks ago had two houses at over £1 million each, and plenty in the £500,000+ bracket. The old place has changed. However, based on when I was last there a couple of years ago, the women are still hideous, and the stores are even worse. Now my parents have moved out of the area, I've lost my last excuse to visit there.
     
  18. Grant B

    Grant B Producer

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    andrew
    I am glad they are getting paid at last; it's by no mean an easy job that's for sure.
    Most of the US engineers came from other shipyards but I wanted to do something different; I came straight from the Engineering/design home SanFrancisco/Silicon Valley to Barrow-In -Furness which is a shock on the nth-most degree.
    In a way I am glad I did it because if I went to London for instance; I don't think I would have really felt like I went some place completely different. Just change the accents and mark up the prices and what's the differnce?

    We used to say there was this local recessive ugly gene that would kick in about 16 years....and the inbreeding would make it even worse
     
  19. Jason L.

    Jason L. Second Unit

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    This may be the understatement of the year.

    I have only been to London, but I don't know how anyone manages to make ends meet there. I remember going there as an adult, years ago when the pound wasn't that strong, and eating McDonalds all the time because it was about the half the price of anything else.

    I used to work in NYC, and you can find plenty of cheap eating options. I went to Paris and everything is about half the price. It is mind boggling.
     
  20. todd s

    todd s Lead Actor

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    Jason, that is what I have heard also. The cost of things I have heard is crazy. Even if we ate cheaply its expensive. Its one of the reasons my wife and I have held off going to London on vacation.

    Can anyone from their confirm if its still the case?

    Jason, just curious how much does McDonalds cost for a value meal?
     

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