18 House Details in the UK Foreigners Don’t Understand

18 House Details in the UK Foreigners Don’t Understand


Great Britain is a country of centuries-old
traditions, and some of them might seem strange to foreigners. But the Brits aren’t in a hurry to change
something just because the rest of the world does it differently. Welcome to an English home, and be ready for
a surprise in almost every room! Double faucets
There are separate faucets for hot and cold water in Britain. When they first appeared, boilers were used
to heat water, where the bacteria, Listeria, would thrive. People were at risk of getting infected when
they used the hot water, while the cold was pure and could be used for drinking. To avoid an outbreak of listeriosis, authorities
forbade mixing the hot and cold water. The time of old boilers passed long ago, but
separate faucets can still be found there, mostly in older homes. Wondering how they wash their hands? The Brits kid that they’ve gotten used to
moving their hands very quickly between the two faucets. If you don’t have this skill, you can mix
the water in the sink – which is good for conserving it too. Another option is to buy a special attachment
that mixes the water. Water laws
In 1965, still another rule about water was accepted. The tap with hot water has to always be installed
on the left side, when it’s possible to do so. This is done for people with poor sight, who
might not see where it is and get burnt. Electricity in bathrooms
You won’t find outlets in the bathroom. The voltage in Great Britain is higher than
in North America, and in order to avoid an electric shock, there are even pull-string
light switchers there. They’re totally safe, no matter how damp
it is. British safety rules also demand that you
shouldn’t be able to plug something in an outlet when you’re in the water. That’s why there are outlets in the kitchen,
where you have contact with water, but don’t get into it. Other countries have different rules, but
they might not be as safe. Plugs
The plugs themselves are different; they have 3 pins instead of 2. Power outlets have an “on” switch, which
is good, since you don’t have to unplug the device after charging it; simply turn
off the outlet itself. But if you forget to turn it on and start
charging your smartphone at bedtime, you might just oversleep. Washing machines in the kitchen
Washing machines are tucked in the kitchen, because – you guessed it, there are no outlets
in the bathroom. British homes are usually smaller than North
American ones, and detached or semi-detached houses often don’t have separate laundry
rooms, or even dryers. To dry clothes, they hang them outside on
clothes lines. Reverse switches
Switches in Britain are reverse: you need to flip them down to turn the light on and
flip them up to turn it off. Where does this tradition come from? Nobody knows. It’s just a convention. Interior doors
What could be so unusual about doors? Well, they don’t open to the perpendicular
wall, but to the parallel wall. It might seem strange, but it’s good for
privacy: nobody will see you without clothes on if you’re changing and forget to lock
the door. Carpeting
Wall-to-wall carpeting can be found anywhere in the house; sometimes in the bathroom too. If you buy or rent a house, this won’t even
be mentioned in the ad, there’s not usually another option. Closets
As common houses are normally small, there isn’t much free space for full-size closets. People try to use every square foot to tuck
them in, like the place under the stairs, which are usually pretty steep. Windows
Windows are opened either out, up, or down, but not inside. It makes sense if you have a small room, but
just think about how you’d wash the windows. Victorian windows usually have only one glass
pane, and you can’t change them to modern ones, since old buildings should remain untouched. The Brits also don’t use curtains, only
blinds, which are very thick and have several layers. Air Conditioning
There aren’t often air conditioners in British homes, since the temperature in summer doesn’t
usually get too high. That’s why windows are used for ventilation
and have built-in air circuits so that fresh air can get inside, even when windows are
closed. Can you imagine what kind of air leaks they
have? That’s why special long pillows that prevent
drafts are in great demand. Covered-up windows
There are hundreds of old houses in Britain with covered-up windows. If this isn’t strange, than what is? Well, it also has a reasonable historic explanation. The window tax, introduced in 1696, levied
a tax on property owners based on the number of windows they had. The more windows the house had, the more tax
the owner had to pay. Usually, it was the rich who had larger houses
with more windows, so the government thought it was a brilliant way to make them pay more
taxes. Poor people with fewer than ten windows were
exempt from the window tax altogether. Those people who couldn’t afford to pay
the higher taxes, or who had dozens of windows in their big mansions and wanted to economize,
would build over the windows. When the tax was canceled, people were probably
so used to the darkness that they didn’t bother to remove the bricks from the windows. Cold inside houses
It’s usually very cold in British homes during the cold season. Heating fees are high, and the Brits prefer
to wear layers of warm clothes, rather than receive huge bills. Some people turn the heat off for a whole
night and take a hot-water bottle to bed. The government even had to decree that it
shouldn’t be colder than 64 F inside. Pipes on the house front
Another detail that strikes strangers is that water and sewer pipes aren’t underground,
but attached right to the front of the house. This is also part of an old tradition when
plumbing was much simpler. Garbage cans
Garbage cans stand close to the main entrance, as if they were the owners’ pride. The true reason is far more practical though:
this is done for the garbage collectors’ convenience. In the 19th century, people used to burn their
waste in the backyard, and ash-collectors would take the ash that was left after burning. By the 20th century, the amount of waste got
bigger, and too much ash would be left over. Ash collectors were wasting too much time
getting to the backyard. That’s why authorities changed the waste
policy, and obligated people to put their garbage cans in front of the street door for
quick collection. Small Yards
There’s often not much space in the backyard for a garbage can anyways. Some British houses on the main streets of
the town are only a dozen feet wide and have a super narrow backyard. But still, they cost much more than houses
on side streets. The reason is quite simple: everybody wanted
to live on the main street, no matter how small the house is. They still do! Mail delivery
Front doors have special slots for the mail, and letters and newspapers fall right to the
floor of the entry. If there’s no slot, the mail is tucked under
the front door. You remember that episode in Harry Potter
when dozens of letters from Hogwarts flew through that slot inside the house? Now you have an idea of what I’m talking
about. Milk doors
Old houses also have special tiny doors for milk. They seem strange now that you can go to any
supermarket and buy milk that stays fresh for months. But until the middle of the 20th-century,
dairy factories delivered milk right to the buyers’ houses. People would leave empty bottles on the porch
or behind a special milk door that used to open both from the inside and the outside. I think that’s still a great idea! And finally this bonus: Remember when I spoke
about Wall to Wall Carpeting earlier. Well there’s a special pond near London,
where if you drop your wallet into the water, the carp fish there will pass the wallet around
to each other and then toss it out of the water back at you. It’s called “Carp-to Carp Walleting”. I’m sorry. I couldn’t help myself. Back to Britain, which of these strange details
impressed you most? Maybe you’ve noticed others? Let me know down in the comments! Hey, if you learned something new today, then
give the video a like and share it with a friend! And here are some other cool videos I think
you’ll enjoy. Just click to the left or right, and stay
on the Bright Side of life!

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