Cussins Refurbishment: Cussins are non traditionally built, post war houses designed and constructed by Cussins Ltd who were based in the North East. Cussins Ltd still exist to this very day and continue to build quality houses.
Back in 1945 the Cussins Steel Framed House was designed by owner Philip Cussins who worked with a partner who was an engineer of ship anchors. As with all post war non-trads they were designed as a fast build but temporary solution to aid the shortage of housing following the end of World War II. Believe it or not the Cussin properties could actually be fully constructed and ready for occupancy in just 7 days!
There are three house types to specifically look out for – all often referred to as Cussins:
- Cussins. These are the main type and exclusively designed and built by Cussins Ltd.
- Symplex: Rareley found and manufactured in partnership with C Cornes & Sons Ltd and designed by Forshaw, Grieves & Partners in the mid 1960s.
- Cornes: These followed later (in the 1960s) and again supported the main designer and manufacturer C Cornes & Sons Ltd.
In total around 6,000 properties were built in the mid to late 1940s and the later partnership with Cornes in the 1960s. Although designed for the short term only most of these 6,000 still stand and are still occupied today.
Cussins are steel framed houses. They were all built as two storey semi-detached properties with a single story outhouse to the gable walls and a flat canopy above the front door.
The frame itself consisted of 9 double RSC stanchions, each of which formed a hollow box. RSJs were used for floor, ceiling support and rafters, these were coated in red oxide paint. RSCs provided the secondary framing – both horizontal and vertical. The secondary frame was coated in black bituminous paint. Precast concrete panels were then tied back to the secondary frame. These panels were then finished externally in one of two ways:
- Render applied directly onto the PRC panels
- Clay slip tiles in an un-bonded pattern
It is not however completely unheard of to find these properties to be completely brick faced.
Separating walls were built from standard 9″ brick and partitioning walls timber stud lined with plasterboard.
The roof was made of medium pitch gable, timber rafters, timber batons, bituminous felt and finished usually with interlocking concrete tiles.
The Cussin Cornes were either two storey semi-detached or terraced houses. They differ significantly (especially in appearance) and we aim to cover these in a later feature. However, the same hollow box steel stanchions were used so the issues to look out for in relation to corrosion are similar.
Areas of Concern
The condition of the steel frame is the biggest concern. Check for any corrosion to the RSC stanchons which form the hollow box. Pay particular attention to bases and below the damp proof course. Superficial corrosion to the RSC secondary frame should also be checked. A final common issue is minor corrosion to the ground floor RSJ beams.
Because these Cussins properties incorporate pre-cast concrete panels which have been tied back to the sub-frame they should be checked for signs of corrosion to the reinforcement within them (often indicated by cracking and spalling). The restraining ties and associated componants should also be examined.
Because of the age of these properties you may also see cracking of the mortar between the panels, cracking to the brickwork or facing slips and detachment (blowing) of any render finish.
A structural survey should be carried out prior to any Cussins refurbishment specification and any repairs to the steel frame should be carried out.
Refurbishment options will depend on the condition of the PRC panels. A standard, directly fixed EWI system may be appropriate if the condition of the panels is good enough of if they are to be replaced. If the condition is poor then a Structural EWI system may be a more cost effective and appropriate system as this would fix to the actual primary steel frame and span the existing PRC panels without the need to fix into them. This means the condition would be irrelevant – leave the insitu or remove them, it wouldn’t matter.
The addition of a substantial thickness of external insulation would bring these properties up to current regulations and a finish of render in varying colours and textures, dash or brick effect can transform these properties into modern looking houses.