House types in Southampton

Southampton has the usual mix of urban and suburban housing that is typical of any city in the UK. Terraced, detached, semi detached, bungalows, apartment blocks etc dating right back to Tudor times and before. However very little now remains of the “old town” which was very heavily bombed in world war II.

In regard to retrofitting in the Southampton area our definitions of house types may appear very simplistic but for now we are concerned with three “types.” Our main concerns are with individual features that can be improved, and the main differences that affect retrofitting are walls. Are they solid or cavity walls? Cavity walls can be retrofitted with insulation.


Wall cavities were introduced in late Victorian times but were not widely used until the 20s and 30s. If you have solid walls , then your options are limited to using external or internal cladding to improve the efficiency of the walls. As with all types of retrofitting insulation to walls, it is crucial to make sure there are no existing damp problems, either due to a failed damp proof course or no damp proof course.

20s – 50s

From the mid 20s, cavity walls were introduced and in many cases are suitable for retrofitting with insulation, however the cavities were usually less wide than those that are built today. We also need to consider that when these houses were built, nobody was thinking “I bet one day people are going to want to put insulation in here.” So the main reason for the cavity was an air gap that did actually help in many cases with damp issues that solid walls were prone to.

The main method of insulation is done by injecting it into the cavity and so the injected material (fibre or polystyrene beads) would fill the cavity (as opposed to modern techniques which allow the cavity to still have a gap because insulation boards are  added as the wall is built.

1926 Specification of Works (download PDF typical detached build in Highfield)

60s – 70s

By this time people started thinking about gas central heating, and houses on the whole were less drafty. Cavities were still built without insulation though.

Modern (80s/90s and later)

By the 90s, building regulations meant that all houses had to built with cavity insulation, loft insulation and double glazing [check]. But in many cases there are still improvements we can do to help with generation and conservation of renewable energy.

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