A new lease of life for old homes

The asset management team look after a wide range of houses, flats and schemes across Ellesmere Port and Neston. Among them is a variety of non-traditional accommodation that needs regular maintenance to keep habitable. Here’s the story of how temporary bungalows built after the war are still standing...

Prefabricated Hawksley bungalows date back to the 1950s. They are aluminium clad and originally weren’t built to last more than a decade. But with regular maintenance and repair from us they have lasted over the years, and have recently been given their biggest lease of life yet.

We look after more than one hundred of these bungalows; in the beginning they were designed as little more than temporary accommodation after World War Two.

Continuous maintenance has kept these unusual – but always in demand – properties in shape over the years; we have replaced doors and roofs when necessary, timber windows have been swapped for uPVC ones, and double glazing has been installed.

The most recent work has been the installation of new external cladding on all of the properties. Because this gives properties a brickwork effect, it has not only completely transformed their look, but more vitally served to tackle the problem of thermal insulation. There was a big problem keeping heat in these homes, and it was important for this to be tackled.

It took 18 months and an investment of a little over £2million to complete the work on 104 bungalows.

The difference it has made to residents has been huge. Such properties tend to be home to older, more vulnerable tenants, with many adapted for the needs of disabled people over the years. So we did not want to uproot people or cause unnecessary disruption, and the new cladding was the best solution. All the work was done without tenants having to move out.

People we talk to love their homes – three bedroom bungalows are rare properties to find, and some residents had already had them extended to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act, so we have always been more inclined to refurbish these properties rather than start over, demolish them or rehouse people.

We held events to keep tenants informed and included in the process, and they got to choose the colour and finish of the tiles they would like. Most tenants supported the work and understood how the positives outweighed the inconvenience of the building work. There has already been big savings on their heating bills.

The scheme proved so popular that even private residents of the bungalows went on to use our contractors to clad their own homes.

The work is part of our commitment to ensuring all non-traditional properties in the Ellesmere Port area are maintained to high standards. We shouldn’t have any problems with these properties now for the foreseeable future, and with on-going maintenance to counter general wear and tear, we think they will still be in good shape in another 50 years.