One of the most distinctive sights in south-east England is the oast house – an unusual property which looks as if it belongs to another time and place entirely. Many of these have now been converted into homes and commercial premises.
But are they a good buy? Here Anderson Associates, chartered surveyors in Kent – where many of these properties can be found – look at the history of oast houses and if they are properties which prospective homeowners should consider purchasing.
What is an Oast House?
Oast houses were an integral part of the brewing industry between the 17th and early 19th centuries. They were where hops – an essential ingredient of beer – were dried and pressed.
Oast houses consist of three parts, the kiln, the drying room and the cooling room. Hops were dried in the drying room just above the kiln before being taken to the cooling room, where they were packed and transported to the breweries.
The kilns, which were fired by wood, charcoal or oil, were often circular, hence their distinctive shape – because it was believed this provided better heat distribution. However, square kilns became more popular over time as scientific opinion changed, as it was believed these were more efficient.
Today, hops are dried by a large-scale industrial process using oil fired heaters and fan generated draughts. However, a lot of the old oast houses remain and have been converted into homes – particularly in Kent, but also in other south-eastern counties such as Essex, Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire. Many also have a farmhouse attached as well.
The Pros of Buying a Converted Oast House…
What Should I Do?
If you are tempted by the idea of buying a converted oast house, or by doing one up yourself, you should get a full building survey done.
Anderson Associates, chartered building surveyors who operate in Kent, Essex, south-east and east London and Suffolk, offer full building surveys which will give you a complete picture of the state of the oast house – or any property - you are interested in buying, and what remedial work needs doing before you commit yourself to a purchase.
We also offer home buyer surveys, and leasehold and shared freehold property surveys for homes in Suffolk, Essex and London. If you would like to know more any of the types of surveys, you can contact us by clicking here and filling in our online contact form.
Images: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS