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This article is intended for those who want to improve their home and through naive enthusiasm or a lack of funds decide to roll up their sleeves and do it themselves. The great majority bring no special skills to the task and would probably prefer not to get their hands dirty but are inspired by the prospect ofsitting back contentedly in the years to come and admiring their own handiwork. The article is in two parts: the first deals with major refurbishment; the second part in our next issue will cover finishes and accessories. It is not intended to provide a detailed knowledge of every aspect of home improvement, but hopes to offer some practical advice and encouragement to the reluctant enthusiast.

Before you start pause for a moment and try to work out in as much detail as possible exactly what you want done where the sink is going to go. which side the doors should be hinged and which way they should open a flash of inspiration halfway through the work can prove costly if it means taking down what you have just built. It is also worth taking a dispassionate look at the expense you are about to incur. Will it add to the value ofyour home and


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Does your pitiful mud hut need patching up? Are the walls in your bijou new residence falling down about your ears? In the first of our two-part DIY guide, Harry Wood suggests things to bear in mind when improving your living conditions.

will the next owner appreciate your efforts?

Major Works

If your property is in need of major upgrading or you are considering carrying out structural alterations you should plan far in advance of starting any work to ensure you avoid making any expensive mistakes. Structural alterations such as knocking down all or part of a wall or bricking up a door should not be attempted without determining ifthe wall is loadbearing or the floor can carry the additional load you are applying. This is particularly important ifyour home is a tenement flat as anything you do could cause problems for others in the block. A tenement in Edinburgh‘s Stockbridge had to be gutted and rebuilt after the shop on the ground floor brought it close to collapse by knocking a small serving hatch through from one room to another. Major works generally require

permission from the local authority and have to comply with Building Control and planning legislation. Building Control is concerned with the technical aspects of the work such as the structure or drainage. Planning deals with the external appearance ofany property and the use of any land or buildings. lfyour house is Listed as having special or historic architectural interest the Planning Department may impose extra restrictions on your proposals. Your Local Authority will offer advice if you write or call into their Building Control or Planning Department. One point to remember is that formal approval for major works will require an application with drawings and official forms. Approval to proceed can take up to three months so plan ahead ifpossible. At this stage you may decide that you need the services of an architect or other professional adviser. As always a personal recommendation is the best

Almost every new homeowner wants to

make a few alterations, but everyone is to some extent limited by expense. Here’s an example at just how lar it can be taken. John Cowell was a partner in the iniluential Glasgow architecture iirm Gillespie, Kydd & Cola when he and his wile bought this ordinary tenement llat in Raeberry Street, Maryhill. The cost in 1981 was 212,000, but the value has been increased enormously by Cowell's complete re-working oi the interior structure and design. ‘We never intended to leave it as it was,’ says

Cowell, ‘but it took two to three years

tor the ideas to cement.’ The results are dramatic.

Only one structural wall has been altered, though several non-structural walls were removed, leaving a large, well lit space across the flats tull width at the iront. This is divided by a sliding wall lrom the back study bedroom, and one enclosed bedroom remains. ‘At the beginning, we said we’d just do the tront,’ says Coweli, “but when we saw the state at the rest at the llat aiterwards, we decided to linish the job.’


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The kitchen area has been raised, and a low screen installed, so that contact with the living space is maintained without pots and pans being exposed to general view. Wiring and plumbing have been concealed in the resulting space beneath the khchen.

Floor-coverings throughout are in durable beechwood, which has been clipped rather than nailed to the old floor to avoid damaging the iabric. Decor is elegant and nee-classical, its Milanese majesty sitting somewhat incongruoust in austere West

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method of finding a suitable consultant. Alternatively you should contact the client advisory service of the relevant profession. They will suggest several alternative firms with past experience of your type of project and can send you examples of their work. Although your budget will have to include their fees for the professional work. their expertise may save time and money.

Skips and Rubbish

One thing you can be sure ofwith any alterations is that they will produce much more rubbish and filth than you first imagine. Taking down all or part of a ceiling is normally the filthiest job as the plaster together with the soot or ash that lies on top of the old lath crash to the floor sending up clouds ofchoking black dust. Dust masks. strong plastic bags and a large shovel are basic essentials but it is also worth finding somewhere to get rid of the rubbish before you create it. Refuse collection by the local authority will take a certain amount and they run special dumps where larger items can be taken if you can arrange transport. For major works a skip may be needed but this requires a special licence from the Highways Dept and special


Prool of what can be done: Views oi Belore and After (Guthrie Photography)

Glasgow, and while the cost has been substantial (no grants were given), it has been tempered by Cowell's knowledge at materials and his protessional contacts. He employed contractors to undertake all the work, relying principally on a iirm called Powerhouse Developments. It is now almost three years since the llat was completed, and the Cowells ‘still love living in it—though it has matured a bit since the photos were taken.’

The List 10— 23 February 53