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BISF House aka Airey Property: Why Can’t You Sell One?

Property Saviour » Non Standard Construction » BISF House aka Airey Property: Why Can’t You Sell One?

Thinking of selling a BISF or Airey house?

Out of all non-standard construction properties, BISF houses are the most popular types.  More than 35,000 thousand were built post World War 2 in 1946.  They can be found across Scotland, Yorkshire, Humberside, Midlands, and the South.

BISF houses were built as temporary homes with a limited life expectancy of around 70 years. It seems that they have over-lived their usefulness, and that’s why they are unmortgageable today.

Table of Contents

What is a BISF built?

British Iron and Steel Federation manufactured these prefab homes which are also called Airey houses, named after their engineer, Sir Edwin Airey.

Built from prefab concrete panels built in a factory and then assembled on-site and supported by steel frames, these houses were put up very quickly.

Contractors building a BISF house using concrete panels
BSIF or Airey houses were put together quickly as a temporary housing solution in 1946.

How do I know if my house is BISF?

BISF houses are anything but ordinary, and the odd peculiarities about them can help you spot one:

  • Lack of a porch.  Unless a BISF house has been modified, there’s no porch.  A stand-out feature of most BISF homes is an external canopy held up by two metal posts.
  • A BISF home is not made up of brick, unlike your standard property.  With no brick in sight, these houses are made up entirely of concrete panels reinforced by metal tubing.
  • As BISF houses weren’t designed to impress, the windows are pokey and small.  You wouldn’t see any period features often found in Georgian or Victorian homes.
  • BISF properties are listed as part of the Housing Defects Act (1984) and thus are unmortgageable.

Are BISF houses safe to live in?

The concern with BISF homes is the limited life expectancy of concrete and as there were shortages of materials post the Second World War, there’s no guarantee that steel was used.  The risk is that they can collapse anytime, particularly if lead is used as a steel substitute or the concrete panels start to crack.

As BISF houses were built with asbestos roofs, if your property gets damaged during a storm, you could end up with an expensive repair bill.  Asbestos is now illegal in the UK and a serious health hazard; therefore, it will require specialist contractors to remove it.

It can become a real challenge to replace the roof and match it with the next door as there are no manufacturers for the non-asbestos type of roofs that will fit.  The insurance company may cover your roof repair bill, but not your neighbours, particularly if their roof is made up of asbestos and is exposed to the elements.  This can leave you with a real headache, not to mention a confrontational dispute with neighbours.

If your neighbours happen to be living in a council-owned property, they could start enforcement action against you and things can quickly get out of hand as power-mad council officials see you as an easy target.

BISF houses are just as niche as listed buildings.  This is because specialist trades are required to work on them, and this can be very expensive.  Let’s say that concrete panels must be replaced. It means bespoke panels must be produced.  Often, costs for replacement can exceed the value of the house itself.

A neglected BISF house can quickly fall into disrepair and, if left unattended, can easily become dilapidated.  The property can become a target to squatters, vandals or criminals looking to turn your house into a cannabis factory.

If you are selling a BISF house, it is best to keep a log of all receipts and works carried out, as this can help win a potential buyer’s confidence.  If you really want to give extra proof, then take before and after photos.

Can you get a mortgage on a BISF house?

It is difficult to give you an answer on this as many lenders refuse to lend on any property that is deemed to be of non-standard construction.  Pre-2009 recession, banks were willing to lend on these types of properties, and maybe that’s when you bought yours. 

There may be an odd building society that may lend on it if the buyer has 50% or more in the form of a deposit.

You could consider reinforcing your BISF with brick.  This can be quite an expensive task as you will have to remove the windows, remove the plaster and completely redecorate, but it does make your property mortgageable going forward.  You will need to keep proof, including photographs and receipts.

This will see your EPC ratings rise.  It will also give any lender greater trust in your property.  The only catch is that this renovation can easily run into tens of thousands of pounds.  If you have an inherited BSIF home, this is not an ideal project to be taking on.

Before embarking on a BSIF property refurbishment, hire a specialist to check for asbestos.

Selling a BISF house
We will complete the purchase within a couple of weeks, pay all your legal fees, and you can move on with the next chapter of your life.

Selling a BISF house – what’s the answer?

Airey homes are difficult to sell on the open market due to their lack of mortgage-ability.  This is not an issue for us as we are cash buyers who will buy any house regardless of its condition

We will complete the purchase within a couple of weeks, pay all your legal fees, and you can move on with the next chapter of your life.

We would be happy to provide proof of funds and our solicitor’s details when you get in touch with us.  Why not take a look at our Success Stories?

Sell with certainty & speed

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  • The price we’ll offer is the price that you will receive with no hidden deductions.
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