Homes are crumbling under the gloss of makeovers

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The Independent Online

Homes across Britain are falling apart as people captivated by "home makeover" programmes paint their walls the latest shade of green instead of doing serious repairs, according to new research.

Homes across Britain are falling apart as people captivated by "home makeover" programmes paint their walls the latest shade of green instead of doing serious repairs, according to new research.

Superficial makeovers are among the causes of a £37bn backlog in home repairs, the researchers claim.

The study, published today by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, says the Government needs to take immediate action to prevent the national repair bill - which includes 1.8 million properties that are officially unfit for human habitation - from getting worse.

"Television programmes that encourage spending on redecoration and home 'makeovers' are all very well. But more important is the less glamourous task of tackling serious disrepair - doing the unseen jobs to remedy damp and deterioration," said Professor Philip Leather, of the University of Birmingham, who conducted the research. "An Englishman's home may be his castle, but owners need to make sure that castle is not crumbling."

Professor Leather assessed findings from 14 different research projects in England, Scotland and Wales. He found that an ageing stock of homes, and a growing proportion of elderly home-owners and instability in jobs and personal relationships had led to a larger number of people struggling to maintain their properties.

He predicts that housing conditions are most likely to deteriorate in inner-city areas of the Midlands and the North of England, the South Wales valleys, and in former mining areas and coastal resorts.

Professor Leather believes Government proposals to give homeowners cheap loans for property repairs have not gone far enough. The Government estimates that at least 80 per cent of private homes need repairs - £3,500 per home.

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