To help owners improve their period houses and understand the best ways to add value in a difficult market, the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) is running several Weekend Homeowners’ Courses this year.
 
Making the right decisions when carrying out any work on your ancient building is critical, according to SPAB, which offers straightforward guidance and information from experts.
 
Matthew Slocombe, SPAB’s deputy secretary, recalls the owner of an old pile in Norfolk attending an earlier homeowners’ course.
 
‘His home had terrible damp problems and after the course, he went right back and put what he had learned into practise. He sorted out the damp, which proves these courses help solve problems and save money.’
 
The first Weekend Homeowners’ Course in 2009 will be held in London on March 21 and 22 at SPAB’s Georgian headquarters in Spitalfields.
 
Running from 9.30am to 5.30pm each day, the course, which includes lunch and refreshments, costs £140 per person.
 
Future homeowners’ courses include one at Kingston Lacy, Dorset on June 6 and 7, while details for a third course in the north of England are being finalised.
 
Other SPAB courses to be held this year to help people learn particular skills or methods are:
 
* a session on timber-framed buildings in June at the Chiltern Open Air Museum, Buckinghamshire

* an introduction to traditional linseed oil paints in October in conjunction with the Traditional Paints Forum, with speakers from Scandinavia and Britain

‘This is a better time than ever to come on a course, as no one wants to waste money right now,’ concludes Mr Slocombe. ‘A lot of information given to homeowners is unnecessary or misguided.’
 
He believes the homeowners’ courses are ‘a good starting point. And even in you can’t afford to put in that swimming pool or install a new kitchen, old buildings are still there and need to be maintained.’
 
For more information, contact the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings 020 7377 1644 www.spab.org.uk