Old Buildings Free Technical Advice Line

Call the Technical Advice Line on 020 7456 0916. Weekdays 9.30am-12.30pm


The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings’ (SPAM) advice line is a free and confidential service open to anyone with a technical enquiry relating to old buildings. Helpline advisors are qualified building surveyors and architects who answer over 1000 calls a year from building owners, professionals, contractors and others. The advisors can also draw on the support of the Society’s Technical Panel, a group recognised for their technical knowledge and experience in the field of building conservation.

SPAB’s technical line offers advice and information on a diverse range of topics, from controlling dampness to repointing mortar joints and upgrading energy efficiency. SPAB can also suggest the names of professionals, contractors and specialists to you. The SPAB receives no recompense for this service but it is provided as a means of attempting to ensure that experienced people are engaged by those responsible for old buildings.

Unlike commercial organisations, the Society dispenses completely impartial advice without the attached strings of any vested financial interest. SPAB cannot be definitive as they are unable to inspect the building but many callers have commented on how useful they have found the service. Because the advice line is provided free of charge on limited resources, with only one member of staff taking calls at any given time, opening hours may vary and the service can become busy at times. If you can’t get through immediately, please do try again.

In addition, SPAB suggest that you visit the advice section of their website. Answers can be found here to some of the questions the Society is most frequently asked. You may also find details of a publication that is relevant to your query. Regrettably, SPAB find it difficult to provide individually tailored responses to enquiries by email or in writing.

When like for like is not appropriate. Zinc guttering with a hand made bend fashioned in lead
is prone to blocking.

Looking to buy a listed home?

Maintaining, altering or renovating a listed home?

Looking to buy one?

Check out the The Scottish Listed Property Show.

Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh
Saturday 26 October 2019
9am – 5pm
Entry £10 or free to members (£48/a)

If you’re of a romantic and purist disposition (cf. William Morris) or have just found a sleeping beauty I recommend you visit the SPAB stand … https://www.spab.org.uk/old-house-project


No Way Jose!

Unfortunately UK Government has responded to the petition calling for a reduction of VAT to 5% on approved repairs to listed buildings with a flat: “No Way Jose!”, neglecting to mention the devolved arrangements for heritage in Scotland. But anyway losing £2.5b is a sizeable amount. In context over the past year, Historic England has spent nearly £10 million in grants, HES this year around £4m, of which £1.4m is a block grant to the National Trust, not all of this towards is towards physical building improvements.

Meanwhile VAT on new buildings, which by and large reduce the heritage value of villages, towns and cities up and down the country, remains a whopping 0%.  One wonder what this would be worth to the Exchequer?

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/223075 Continue reading “No Way Jose!”

Sign here to reduce VAT to 5% on repairs & alterations to listed buildings

Private listed property owners are preserving much of our built heritage for future generations, yet many may be struggling to maintain and repair their homes.

In 2012, the UK Government removed the zero rate of VAT for pre-authorised alterations to listed buildings. This may have been a blow to owners, but chances are you didn’t even know this benefit existed.

Continue reading “Sign here to reduce VAT to 5% on repairs & alterations to listed buildings”

Live in a listed building?

Don’t know much about its history? Plagued by a damp issue? Want to know why lime is better than quick fix cement? If you are maintaining, altering or renovating your listed home – or looking to buy one – The Scottish Listed Property Show may well be for you. One day for just a tenner you can hear how from experts and save you thousands. Continue reading “Live in a listed building?”

SOS Dunbar Conservation Area

I received this in my inbox yesterday. I’ve been banging on about these issues since moving here in 2008 and got pretty much nowhere, so obviously welcome this proposal, at least in principle.
I’m getting in touch to let you know about an upcoming opportunity to get involved in discussions around ideas for addressing seemingly intransigent issues with some buildings within the Dunbar Conservation Area.
We are all aware of the detrimental effect of the poor state and appearance of a number of High Street buildings and others within the CA.  This includes buildings which have sat empty and unused for years, all the while deteriorating and at increasing risk of permanent loss.

Continue reading “SOS Dunbar Conservation Area”

Going going gone – Has Time has Run Out for Rare Dunbar Tin Tabernacle?

I found this expired advert on Gumtree, looks like it is too late now to save it.

Tin and Timber Tabernacle Building. Free to a good home, needs to go ASAP


Rare Tabernacle Building, free if you want to come and dismantle it. Needs to go asap.

Call Duncan 07980922684, Located in Dunbar EH42. Needs new windows and some tlc but is watertight.

Approx 10 m x 5 m main building and 6 m x 3m side building.

Tin outer sheeting and timber frame

HES Doesn’t Object to Demolition of Tin Tabernacle

Thank you to the local gentleman who passed on this lyrical non-objection from Historic Environment Scotland to the planning application seeking permission to demolish yet another piece of Dunbar’s heritage.

Reading between the lines HES are saying very politely to the local planning authority that this is a building worth saving in its current context While not a material consideration, the building could theoretically be moved to another location without entailing excessive costs (and has done so at least once before!). One wonders what the local planning authority will have to say about that should a proposal to move it emerge.

Our ref: HGG/B/LB/7 Our Case ID: 201507312 Your ref: 16/00040/CAC

03 March 2016

Dear Sirs

Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 St Annes Church Hall, Westgate, Dunbar East Lothian

Thank you for your consultation which we received on 19 February.

Historic Environment Scotland have reviewed your consultation, and we consider the proposals do not raise issues of national significance, so we can confirm that we do not object. Continue reading “HES Doesn’t Object to Demolition of Tin Tabernacle”

Death of a Tabernacle

There is seemingly little interest in much of the ephemeral built heritage of Dunbar, so I was naturally intrigued when someone alerted me to a conversation taking place around the Dunbar Tin Tabernacle, the only relatively intact example to survive in East Lothian, to perhaps make use of it as an informal arts facility. I was not privy to the detailed conversation at the recent Dunbar Community Council and was completely unaware of any of those that preceded it, but it elicited the following most interesting reply: Continue reading “Death of a Tabernacle”