Walls and Ceilings PREPARATION

Plasterwork to walls and ceilings normally needs to be repaired before decorating. Cracks and small holes can be filled with Polyfilla and then sanded down to give a smooth finish. There are special products like Polyfilla skim coat for covering over larger areas. Even after carefully filling and sanding, old plaster still


If your property ls lacking in basic facilities, you may be entitled to a DISCRETIONARY IMPROVEMENT GRANT. A Tolerable Standard was set under the Housing Act of 1974, and if your amenities fall below this, you can apply for a grant to upgrade them to the rather higher Specified Standard, which covers decent kitchen and bathroom fittings, structure and damp-proofing. You should contact the Housing Department of your District Council which will send an inspector and set a price on the work to be done, to a maximum total of £12,600. You will then be offered a grant towards the expected costs (up to 75 per cent- ie maximum grant is £9450), although this offer is not legally binding until It is officially approved. This scheme also covers re-wiring and similar work, though the normal grant for such projects is only 50 per cent.

REPAIRS GRANTS are sometimes available to cover the whole fabric of a building in severe need of repair, but the Councils are unable to offer many of these. Even if a REPAIRS NOTICE has been served on your property (at which point the Repairs Grant becomes mandatory) you may have to wait, as backlogs still exist from 1984 owing to underlunding. The Grant is 50 per cent of costs up to £7800 tor ore-1914



What do you do to make your home uniquely yours? Do you suffer from paint panic? Woodwork worry? Furniture fear? In the second part of our home improvement guide. Harry Wood comes up with some

answers on interior decoration.

looks uneven and untidy if you apply plain emulsion paint straight on to the wall. It is best to line the walls (and ceilings if you can) with smooth heavy weight lining paper to hide the bumps. holes and rough edges which otherwise show up and create shadows. If the lining paper is well hung the joints can‘t be seen after it is painted. the wall appears smooth and has a warmer texture than cold

tenements; £5500 for other houses. No property built since June 1964 is eligible.

As cutbacks or moratoria are

imposed from time to time by the Government, however, the council may be unable to offer Discretionary Improvement Grants. In such cases, you should apply for a STANDARD AMENITIES GRANT, which is mandatory, and will always be made available if your home does not meet the Tolerable Standard set under the 1966 Housing Act. This covers the basic essentials of kitchen and bathroom facilities and associated work, each at a fixed cost, with a total not exceeding £6460. You will normally be entitled to 50 per cent of these costs in Edinburgh, 75 per cent in Glasgow.

If your property is in a HOUSING ACTION AREA (so designated by the Council because the general standard of housing is particularly poor), you may be obliged to make improvements to it, though such work is well funded. Owner-occupiers who pass a means test are entitled to a 90 per cent grant; others (including non-resident landlords) to 75—89 per cent, depending on means and other circumstances. Where a Housing Association is involved which will negotiate common repairs, the


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bare plaster. A common way to

avoid the trouble of tidying up uneven surfaces is to hang woodchip paper which has built in bumps to camouflage what is already there but, like artex. this can look clumsy in old buildings and is best avoided. PAINTING

Emulsion paint comes in two forms. silk or matt silk gives a slightly glossy finish and can be washed to

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remove marks. which makes it best for kitchens and bathrooms. Matt paint often looks better and does not highlight bumps on a wall but it cannot be cleaned. For a good paint finish. apply an undercoat ofpaint thinned with water (2: I paint to water) which provides a good body to build up the top coats. Normally two top coats will suffice although if the plaster is new or the existing

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Illustration from The Care a Consvervatlon of Georgian Houses by Davey, Heath, Hodges. Ketchin 8 Milne (Architectural Press, London).

maximum approved expenditure per home is £19,700; otherwise it is £17,100.

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPROVEMENT GRANTS of up to 100 per cent are available for stonecleaning and backgreen improvement, and there are also special grants for insulation. For health reasons, LEAD PIPING REPLACEMENT GRANTS are generally available at 75 per cent of costs up to £5500.

Repairs to property within a CONSERVATION AREA may also be eligible for special funding, though the bodies concerned are often severely limited by resources from local and central Government. These are normally designed to sponsor major, exterior repairs, though small grants are sometimes available for relatively minor jobs which enhance a building's appearance, like restoring windows to their original style. Edinburgh's Old and New Towns are covered by conservation committees (representatives of the New Town committee give a public talk in Stockbridge Library on Wed 8 March, see Open listings), and a similar scheme is being established in Glasgow’s West End, although funding is not expected until April (see below

for contact numbers). If your home falls outwith these areas, you should contact your Housing Department in Glasgow, Planning Dept in Edinburgh.

As most grant-giving bodies are forced to be selective, one essential point is worth bearing in mind. Your application will almost always stand a better chance at approval if it is part of a common repairs proposal, covering a whole building or even row of buildings. (Exceptions to this are elderly or disabled clients, who are generally given priority.) You should therefore try to join forces with your neighbours, if not through a Housing Association, then informally. Remember that the purpose of these grants is to improve whole areas more than single dwellings. Remember too that funding may sometimes be subject to delays (in some cases over five years), local councils being subject to the vagaries of national economics.

Full details of grants are given in EDC’s pamphlet ‘A Guide To Grants’, and GDC also offers a a number of leaflets. In all cases, research thoroughly what may be available to you. (Andrew Burnet)


GLASGOW: District Council Housing Department 221 9600. West End Initiative - Kenneth Macrae c/o Mackintosh School of Architecture 332 9797

EDINBURGH: District Council Housing and Planning Departments 225 2424. Committees for Conservation: New Town 557 5222, Old Town 225 8818

56 The List 24 February 9 March