Quirks of homes in English countryside

Hello All,
I will be doing a housesit in the English countryside for one week this summer. I am from Oregon USA. My question is what sort of “qwirks” should I expect of older homes in England (tricky fuseboxes, plumbing, etc.)? I just want to be prepared so I can take best care of the owners home.
Thank you!

Hello @jakkij and congratulations on your English countryside sit. This is a great question, we live in a thatched property in the Cotswolds that dates back to 1740. Depending on the age of the property you are staying in and whether it has had any modernisation or not you might possibly experience some creaking and banging of water pipes as they heat up and contract plus maybe some squeaky floorboards. It will all depend on the property you are staying in.

I hope you have a lovely sit. What animals will you be looking after? :slightly_smiling_face:

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Hi @jakkij, I love sitting in old, character cottages in the UK. The best thing is to ask your owner about what quirks there may be. I like to know where water stopcocks, fuse boxes are, how showers work etc.
Enjoy your sit!


@temba’s suggestions are on the mark - but it is good to know those things everywhere - new or old.
I did a sit in a new home on Jeju Island in S Korea and the breakers tripped in a thunder storm. The breaker box cover was actually a framed art work. Don’t know if that is common in Korea or not. Fortunately the HO responded to my texted query quickly.
In older homes - I sat in a 15th C Tudor in the UK. Plumbing and electrics were fine, but it did creak. One night one of the cats hid out upstairs and jumped on my bed at 2 am. For a minute I thought the place was haunted!

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Some homes have Aga stoves in the kitchen that even run in summer as they heat the water. We are Australians and never used an Aga but over the last few months sitting full time in regional England we have used them a few times now. They do take some getting used to as there is a knack for cooking successfully. Our first time cooking a chicken casserole came out as chicken soup, it was so overcooked! Ask the owner for tips on their Aga if you get one.


Best thing is to ask the home owner and have an extensive tour with them when you arrive. Like new homes, old homes are all different.
Things you may encounter:
Noisy plumbing
Squeaky floor boards
Numerous fuse boxes in unusual places
Old windows that don’t open
Shutters instead of blinds or curtains
Larders instead of food cupboards
Very expensive ornaments/decorations that befit the age of the property
stone floors
Wood burners
Open fires
Huge rooms that are difficult to keep warm
Doors that are difficult to open and shut
Maze of rooms and stairs
Large gardens with lots of grass to cut

We love old rambling properties. My advice (even in summer) is live in one or two rooms. It cuts down the cleaning and there are less rooms to keep warm. Read up on agas. They are great inventions but take a time to get used to. Be prepared for comfie but old couches and chairs. The homes we love the most are decorated in a mish mash of styles and furniture that have been in the extended family for years. And read up on your local history. There’s so much to do and learn in these tiny villages an£ always someone to tell you more.

Enjoy and let us know how you get on.


Hi @jakkij. Some old country homes go back centuries and were built with large exposed beams and much lower ceilings. If so be careful of your head. I banged mine a number of times during a recent sit in a 16th century cottage.

Yes Aga’s take some getting used to. My great gran had one but as I was only a small child I never used it. Then during a recent sit the aga was the only cooker available. As you say it’s great it cooks things quickly…very quickly! Learnt to keep an eye on things.

Thank you for a really helpful list @ElsieDownie. Detailed Welcome Guides are important for every sit no matter what the format, however on older properties it’s even more so.

For me Aga’s are always a bonus and I’ll add spiders and cobwebs to your list :wink:

When we applied for a sit in a home that was over 600 years old we included that we had experience living in and managing older properties, they had an adorable, old Lab.

We were successful in getting the sit. The pet parent/owner selected us because of our experience with older properties, his rational, the home was harder to care for that their old boy and most other applications had focussed mostly on pet care …

Proving it’s important to read the entire listing and consider all aspects of the sit when applying, pets and homes.

I’m following this keenly just in case any of our (so far) 3 UK sits this year have said quirks, so thank you :pray:

Plumbing and electrics won’t necessarily be old as it’s in the country, but if you are looking at older country homes, you might find:
Spiders - nothing dangerous but take a catcher if you don’t like them.
Single glazing - it can be hard to update windows in older houses due to planning restrictions, can be a bit cold and draughty in winter.
Toilet outflow might be a narrow pipe or to a cess pit so toilet more likely to block and you definitely can’t put anything other than loo roll down it, and not too much of that (my plunger is probably needed once a week or so).
Odd noises - old houses creak and move a bit, and the central heating might make a noise.
Roads may not have pavements, even in villages, so if you want to walk out to the pub etc after dark, wear highviz/bright coat and take a torch. Walk on the right hand side of the road facing on-coming traffic, unless it’s a blind right hand bend in which case switch over to the left.


Wow! So much great input! This is such a wonderful group! Thank you all!


Am I alone in thinking this is a lot of fuss about nothing?
Honestly @jakkij you have nothing to concern yourself about. I am sure, your owner will put your mind at rest and answer any questions you may have .
So long as you have the 240 volt adaptors for your devices, everything is pretty much the same ( apart from better televison and beer here!). Have a grest time!

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Hi @Goodboyjakey it really depends on adaptability and what you are used to …

Some of us have “lived” in a wide variety of homes and environments and take everything in our stride, going from the present to the past and all the quirks and characteristics that old homes can have as well as the new resident pets can take some getting used to, that’s not to say there are insurmountable obstacles in the way … just “different” for some.

In spite of being a non beer drinker I do have it on good authority from the other half that this is the case, the TV too :joy:


Hello Goodboyjakey…Hm-m-m. I have lived in many parts of the world. I am not a “worrier” but know from past experiences, things can come up that neither party thinks about addressing. For instance, most USA home do not have an internal “stopcock”. It you experience flooding the house or a broken pipe, you need to go outside up to the curb where the water main is and turn it off there. Good to know. If I did not know this and there was a flood, you might find me up next to the curb of the house trying to turn off the main when only “professionals” are usually to do this in UK. Oh…and Portland Oregon has over 70 breweries and has been rated on the best beer cities in the world. Come check us out!

And if you are driving, be aware that roads in villages are very narrow. Despite being 2 way they often have cars parked on the road only allowing enough room for a single lane of traffic. So you need to know, when you are faced with oncomming traffic, who gives ways to whom. The rule is, if you have to cross to the wrong side of the road to get around parked cars then you have to give way to the oncoming vehicle who doesn’t have to drive on the wrong side of the road. It can be a bit nerve wracking in a busy high street if you are not used to this as many village high streets are also the main road through town carrying buses, vans and trucks. Most drivers are very polite though.

@Crookie that’s the same rule in the US: if the obstruction is in your lane, you’re supposed to let the person in the unobstructed lane go first.

Things get a bit muddy when there are multiple cars on both sides trying to move past the obstruction. Sometimes people take turns, sometimes the people in the unobstructed lane decide they’re all going to get through before the people in the other lane can go.