Renovate old building facade: Typical defects of old houses

For some people, thefacade of an old building is a word that causes either horror or motivation when they think about renovation, monument protection and other measures for preservation and modernisation.

After all, if the house is old, the facade is usually far removed from modern insulation and thermal insulation – and not only in the case of farmhouses from the modern era, but also well and truly in the case of buildings from the 20th century.

In this guide, we would like to show you the most common defects and disadvantages of old building facades built in Germany before and after 1920 and until a few decades ago. This way you can get in the mood for the renovation.

To renovate an old building facade can reveal some defects. Whether the house was built before 1920, around 1950, 1980, 2000 or 2017 – refurbishment and modernisation are always associated with respective disadvantages of the building.

Houses until 1920: No insulation, no building services

Whether simple dwellings, terraced houses, workers’ apartments or even villas built up to 1920 – there is no insulation in originally preserved houses. Even the building services for heating, electricity and similar applications are sought in vain.

In addition, when inspecting a building of this kind, you should not leave out the cellar under any circumstances – because a house built before 1920 did not have a cellar sealed against moisture, dampness and groundwater.

One advantage of renovation: Pipes and conduits were usually above plaster, which is why it is easier to remove and reinstall them than with concealed pipes and conduits. You can also cover the roof from the inside, as there is no insulation here either 😉

A house from the period 1920 to 1949

In the 1920s a new wave of industrialization emerged, which also had some effect on the construction of houses. Apart from social housing, it was the building materials that were renewed and improved.

While some buildings were still made of simple bricks, some other residential quarters already had pumice masonry or hollow blocks were used – still not ideal, but already a bit better for insulation. Defects and typical damage patterns that come to light during renovation can therefore be expected here as well; from pure wear and tear to mould. Pipes should also be taken into account during renovation – lead pipes were often used for the water.

1950s construction: rubble and pollutants

Before one concentrates on the facades or the facade insulation to be created in the renovation of a house from the 1950s, one should consider other problems.

After the war, building materials, among other things, were in short supply – walls and ceilings therefore often conceal a great deal, from splinters of brick to colourful rubble.

In addition to toxic and carcinogenic asbestos, harmful wood preservatives were also used at that time. During gutting/refurbishment, safe removal and appropriate disposal must therefore be ensured.

Houses from the 60s and 70s

While in the 1920s, housing estates were built in the cities for groups of workers, in the 1960s and 1970s more and more properties were built for individual families – bungalows were a strong trend. And in addition the building material concrete.

That was and is not always an advantage. Because when connecting or working on the facade, damage and thermal bridges quickly occur. These not only cause energy inefficiency, but can also ensure that moisture, dirt and micro-organisms (mosses, lichens, bacteria, etc.) penetrate and settle in.

However, it can be said that during this period, insulation and sealing against moisture in general came into being. The advance of oil-fired heating, which incurred direct costs for heating, also provided for an energetic awareness.

Real estate from 1980 to 2000

There were further significant changes in house building from the 80s onwards. For the first time, ecological materials came to the fore – and energy efficiency also became more important, even if it was still a long way from being an efficiency house or the perfect passive house.

And even the pioneers of these energy-efficient houses still have shortcomings: for example, the ventilation, which is rarely well regulated.

Moisture damage is therefore not an uncommon defect found in the renovation of walls, facades and insulation. When renovating the facade, it is therefore possible to use existing structures or build on them, while the ventilation of the interior rooms must be optimised as part of the modernisation.

Typical old building defects always to be expected?

So are the typical defects of old properties always to be expected? No. Depending on location, habitation and maintenance, even buildings from the early 20th century can still be in good condition.

Only the building services and similar installations, if not yet renewed, must be replaced in any case. The facade of the house will probably require a new design and installation of thermal insulation. Otherwise, even old buildings can sometimes require little effort.

Is it worth the effort to renovate?

The renovation of an old building, the renewal of the facade, the creation of facade insulation or thermal insulation, moisture protection as well as the work inside can be daunting in terms of type and scope – but old buildings, especially those with a special style, have a charm of their own.

There are many advantages to preserving this charm and to living in or renting it out. You can also request subsidies and further support. You can find details on facade renovation in accordance with the EnEV in our article Facade renovation in accordance with the EnEV: Subsidies and grants from BAFA and KfW. This is not only about the facade and the insulation, but also about windows, doors, roof etc. With the right support you can reduce the costs quite well.

Thermal insulation, protection against moisture and cold

On our homepage you will find all information about the insulating coating of masonry, concrete surfaces, roofs and other parts of the house. Our proPERLA® brand products provide a water-repellent surface that is also breathable and self-cleaning.

After all, it is not only important that the facade is perfectly insulated, but also that it remains dry. Water withdraws thermal energy (heat) from the wall to evaporate the water. This results in cooling of the wall, which in turn promotes the growth of mould.

In short: If you commission someone to impregnate concrete surfaces, masonry, bricks, the roof and co. as part of the renovation or modernization of the facade of your house, make sure that they use our products. We also offer roof paints, means for horizontal barrier in walls and much more. Feel free to browse through our offer or contact us!

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proPERLA® offers a range of exterior super hydrophobic waterproof paints & coatings designed to reduce energy costs and protect homes.

Through our official network of applicators, we provide services to end customers, ensuring the correct application of our products for your benefit.

Whether you are a professional interested in working with our products, or a customer looking for solutions, contact us for more information.

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