What is different when living in a UK home?

It’s a well-known fact that homes from country to country will have differences in the way everyday aspects are presented and used.

These tend to reflect core issues relating to aspects such as the weather, culture and way of life in that location. The more these are known about and understood the easier it will be for anyone to move in and love living in their new environment.

The UK certainly has its own character when it comes to our homes and these vary depending on the age of the house and its location. Many have historic reasons, which for many locations are just not a requirement anymore, but these still seem to filter through. Often this is in the design of the home or just down to language differences.

Many of the aspects highlighted may be known to you but suggest there will be as many that are new. As always, let your point of contact at Icon Relocation know if you have any other questions we can help address.

HOUSE NUMBERS

The house numbering system can seem a little odd to many as they don’t seem to follow an order or just jump around via odd or even numbers.

Number 32 on a house

The concept is simple enough with most roads having odd numbers on one side and even on the other. When they were built this was clear and simple. However, with many locations, houses have changed, been replaced, removed or others added into gaps resulting in a blend of numbers and often some are missing or other added in.

The latter tends to have a letter added to the house number so there is a number 27 followed by home showing 27A. Where a house has been removed (perhaps a larger house or block of flats been built to replace several homes) then a whole string of numbers may just not appear at all. However, the most confusing is often when the road layout changes. An adjustment to a road layout may end up with numbers flowing into new roads names. This results in historic numbers showing through where they were not originally planned. Confusing for us but even more stressful for the local postman.

The good news is that in most occasions the numbering system is clear and obvious but if in doubt ask someone local. They will help if they can.

CLOAKROOM/TOILETS & WC/BATHROOM

So, what is the right word and more the point what does it mean to the average Brit?

Cloakroom is the common phase when attending a public building such as a theatre and is the location where you would look to leave your coat or any personal belongings. In a home, this is

used as the location where someone would hang their costs, which for many homes is also the smallest room in the house, namely the toilet.

Sign for men's & women's toilets

Asking where your cloakroom is to someone is therefore for many, just a polite way of saying where is your toilet? Which comes onto the different between WC and bathroom. The reason why

this is often quoted as two separate ways is that for many years and still true on older houses, they were in fact two separate rooms.

The WC (Water Closet) was often a smaller room located near to the bathroom. The bathroom therefore was the room that just had the bath and/or the shower. Clearly in newer homes, this is often one of the same, but this is not a true statement everywhere.

However, when someone asks for the bathroom, we all know you would mean the toilet.

BATHROOM TAPS

Very pleased to say that having mixer taps is now becoming the normal arrangement but in older homes the arrangement is still to have two taps on your sink. One for hot and another for cold.

The reason is quite simple and that is due to the cold water being drawn from a separate system to the hot water. In really old homes, this was water that shouldn’t ideally be used for drinking either as it could be that the water was come from a less clean source than the hot water or the drinking water in the kitchen. These days, there are no such issues but plenty of people still like the look of two separate taps rather than a single mixing tap.

To make sense of it, just pop in the plug and fill the sink up with the water to the right temperature and all is sorted. As this is a more of a style comment now, this remains common in older homes, even when they have been modernised and to some, it looks more in keeping with the age of the home.

CENTRAL HEATING

There are a few options here. Gas vs electric is the most common but there are still plenty that have an oil tank hidden away outside somewhere. So, which is best and does it even matter?

The answer is no, not really but most people in the UK still feel gas it better even if the differences are limited. Gas is obvious to see as there are large radiators located around the home, where the gas boiler has heated the water with now piping hot water being pumped around the house.

Electricity was usually a larger but now quite small heater hanging on the wall and in newer homes, this tends to often be under floor heating with the result that no boxes are required anywhere.

Most gas & electricity system tend to be working together and therefore there will be a thermostat located on a wall somewhere that sets the overall temperature to the home. These also tend to have individual thermostats on the side of each radiator so that you can adjust the level of heat to each room.

Please note that it is extremely rare to locate any home with air conditioning. With the summer being fairly short, there is limited need. Also, all UK homes are about keeping the heat in,

therefore rooms can get just plain hot in the summer months. To most of us, we are so pleased it’s hot that few worry about it.

ELECTRICITY POWER POINTS

The UK is not alone in having the 3- point plug, but we are the country that most will first think of when this comes up.

UK 3 pin socket

They are in fact extremely sensible and it’s all about safety. This means that every item plugged in are grounded allowing for a low level of risk of any item electrocuting someone in error.

Also, there is a switch to the side of the plug socket and for this to be ‘live’ it must be switched on, which means the red strip at the top of the switch is visible. This is of course telling you it’s live so be aware.

Also, there will be no sockets in any bathroom in the UK. There may be a shaver socket but that’s a different shape so no plugging any items in where water is going to be common. Sorry about that.

Also, all homes will have a circuit box hidden in a cupboard, cloakroom or even a cellar or garage. These are set to a very sensitive level, meaning that any item that may cause a power surge will result in a ‘breaker’ in the box switching itself off. May be that a light bulb has blown and this can easily result in all the lighting in that part of the house being switched off. This is not a problem. Just flick it back on and all is resolved. If it keeps doing it then there is a larger issue to address.

CARPETS

The British do love a nice carpet. If the majority of rooms have a lovely warm carpet then the happier most of us on this island will be.

The reason why is fairly obvious. It can get cold and uncovered floors can just be plain cold. Also, older homes such as Victorian houses are drafty and cold wind can come up through the floor boards and therefore the carpet is there to offer a seal to prevent unwanted cold air making an appearance. However, build quality has improved over the past 100 + years, wooden floors and tiling are now cheaper and just as good so taste is slowly changing.

Whilst this may not appear in rooms such as reception rooms so often, they will be common in the bedroom. We just like a walk on carpet when we first wake up; suggest they will be common for a long time to come still.

KITCHEN WORKTOPS

Let’s state the obvious comment first. These are rarely granite or any other tough substance and usually are wood or Formica. The reason is down to cost. Granite is extremely expensive in the UK so few home have it.

Therefore, please be careful as whilst placing hot items such as pots & pans on the worktop. It will take direct heat for a short while but not long term. This will result in the worktop being burnt and therefore required to be replaced. It’s important that you ensure you have a heat shield near the cooker such as a metal rack or even a hard chopping board.

Formica is a tough & durable hard plastic laminate; its ideal for kitchens but just keep really hot items off it. You don’t want any unwanted costs coming your way due to a large burn mark being present when you move out.

RECYCLING

The UK is no different to most countries regarding taking recycling seriously but there are a considerable number of variables depending on the actions of your local council. All will provide solutions to recycle cans, plastic, food, garden waste and have a general waste option.

Row of recycling bins

Take time to learn what is required in your area and your local council will have full details on their website.

LIVING ROOM VS LOUNGE

Why are there so many names for the same room? Some say Lounge, others living room and others reception room but there are in practice all the same place?

Living room tends to refer to a relaxed room for friends and family to gather to undertake fun activities. The lounge or sitting room is more formal and is a quieter space for reading a relaxing.

Hotels often refer to places for quiet enjoyment as sitting rooms but in practice, this is just a bit of history showing through and there are no differences in UK homes worth discussing; unless you are looking to moving into a large stately home, in which case that’s a totally different subject.

BEDROOM SIZES

Older homes have a large different in room sizes, but why?

The answer is that the smallest room in the house was often for the nursery or certainly before WWII, a room where your staff would live and therefore would not need to be that large. In modern homes, the room sizes tend to be closer in size but all will have a larger master bedroom, many with an en-suite bathroom. That’s fine as long as 'you' get that room.

SUMMARY

Homes in the UK tend to be to a good standard but, and it's quite a big but, it can vary considerably and is down to the landlord as to what level of quality and presentation he/she wants to complete.

Even in light of this, homes will be different to most other locations in the world but this doesn't make them better or worst, just different. Also, compared to many locations, homes here will seem

View over Penzance, Cornwall

smaller than many other places. This is due to the fact that they are. Living on a small island has it's downsides as well as some great ones.

Keep an open mind, play with ideas and also consider options that may not be the initial thoughts and the ideal home will be there for you.

What's more, you may find that the differences that make UK homes may be one characteristics that you may love the most long term. Welcome to the UK. It's a great place to live.....


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