Option closed to new applications
What is this about?
Vernacular rural buildings, such as byres, mills and kilns, are an integral part of Scotland's cultural heritage and contribute to landscape and local character in rural areas. They were usually built using local materials and traditional techniques, and many pre-date the advent of mass-production techniques and the use of new building materials such as concrete.
This Option will enable you to undertake specified repairs to the historic fabric of vernacular rural buildings, to make the buildings wind and watertight and to ensure their structural integrity. The repairs should be like-for-like and should be carried out using materials and methods that are sympathetic to the techniques and materials used in the construction of the building.
Support under this Option is restricted to pre-1940 buildings constructed primarily from local materials in response to local needs, and following traditional design patterns. Examples of eligible buildings include simple farm or estate buildings, byres, mills, kilns, smiddies, workshops and doocots. Support under this option is also restricted to buildings that are not used for permanent, temporary or seasonal human residence. This Option will not support repairs to boundary walls, drystane dykes, ha has, walled gardens, bridges, greenhouses, Dutch barns, gate piers, statues, fountains and other ornamental features.
What will this achieve?
This will assist you in looking after this valuable part of Scotland's rural heritage. It should also:
- Increase the working life-span of your vernacular buildings
- Promote sustainability by ensuring the continued use of your vernacular buildings
- Contribute to the enhancement and retention of local trades in traditional building techniques
- Help to maintain local distinctiveness of buildings and landscape, retaining the character and appeal of your area
What you can do
You must check with your local authority whether the proposed repairs will require planning permission and/or a building warrant. If you propose to repair a listed building, you should also check with the local authority whether Listed Building Consent will be required for the work. You can find out if your building is listed by contacting the planning department of your local authority. Where consents from your local authority are required, you should advance these as far as possible before committing your Proposal. Please refer to the Rural Priorities guidance on consents and licenses for further detail.
Before you commence any work, you should check the building for the presence of protected species of animals, birds and plants. Consult Scottish Natural Heritage if you are in any doubt about whether your proposed work will affect a protected species.
You must mark the precise location of the building to be repaired on a 1:10,000 map extract or more detailed map or sketch. This should be submitted with your Proposal, along with any relevant drawings or plans. To aid Proposal assessment and inspections, you must also submit annotated photographs marking clearly the parts of the building to be repaired. These photographs should be numbered to enable easy reference to them in your other supporting information.
You must complete and submit a Vernacular Buildings Repair Details Form for each building that you propose to repair. This document should cross-refer to the annotated photographs that you submit so that it is explicit which repairs relate to each photograph.
Works eligible for payment under this Option are restricted to either the sympathetic repair (on a like-for-like basis) of the historic fabric of the building, or the reinstatement of original or historic features or materials that have been replaced by modern materials in more recent years. The repairs should be prepared and carried out by qualified professionals and trades people experienced in working with traditional buildings. Examples of eligible repairs (although this list is not exhaustive) are set out below:
Walling for vernacular buildings is generally of stone or brick set in a lime mortar. More rarely earth, clay, timber and corrugated sheet metal were employed. Repair of these is also eligible for support.
Repair of structurally unsound walls of buildings: If significant structural movement, settlement cracking or other evidence of a compromised structure is identified in masonry, advice from an engineer experienced in the repair of historic structures may be required. Further guidance is available on the identification of structural cracks.
Replacement or repair of stonework, including architectural features such as structurally unsound skews, crowsteps, skewputts, ornamental mouldings, cornices, lintels and cills: Rural vernacular buildings are often built of rubble and this is usually a soft sandstone or hard whinstone. Stone used in repairs should be a match for the existing. If architectural features are being repaired or replaced, you will to need to be able to provide evidence of the original form of these features and be able to demonstrate that the proposed repair or reinstatement is sympathetic in terms of its form and materials. This Option will also support the reinstatement of original or historic window or door opening proportions where evidence of original form exists, and the reversal of impromptu slappings (unless these provide important information about the history of the building, in which case they should be retained).
Repairing brickwork: All brickwork repairs should accurately follow the original build, using brick of accurately matching colour, size, hardness and porosity. Following brickwork repair, re-point using a pointing tool and application technique similar to that used originally with a mortar specification suiting the age of the building and the strength of the brick. Further guidance is available on the repair of brickwork.
Re-pointing masonry: When repointing rubble masonry, use lime mortar, not cement. Lime mortars have different working properties to cement mortars. Advice on procedures and suitable mixes can be obtained from the Scottish Lime Centre Trust.
Removing well-adhered cement mortar can sometimes damage the adjacent stone arrises, so it is usually better to leave sound existing cementitious pointing alone. However, where cementitious pointing is cracked and open or separating from the stone, carefully remove this using fine masonry chisels. Power tools should not be used. When free space has been created, mortar can be freed from the stone by working back into this space. Pointing should be raked out to a minimum depth of 35 mm and the joint flushed clean.
Re-pointing should be in lime mortar and should be well packed into the joint and finished to match the original and suit the style of masonry construction, including, where appropriate, the correct number of pinning stones to maintain the mortar/stone ratio of the wall indicated in the original build. Stones used for pinning repair in rubble masonry should have the same colour, surface treatment and edge dressing as the surrounding masonry. Further guidance is available on repointing rubble masonry, ashlar masonry and the use of lime mortars.
Clay and earth mortars: Clay mortar exists in some early rural buildings. Care should be taken to identify, analyse and carefully reproduce these where repair is required. Further guidance is available on clay and earth mortars.
Application of lime harl and the removal of harmful cementitious render: Rubble sandstone was often traditionally covered in a vapour permeable or breathable lime harl (render) to act as a weather shield. Sometimes, lime harl has been replaced at a later date with a hard, impervious cement render and this can lead to damp problems. Harl coats should be applied in accordance with traditional harling (or throwing) techniques. Samples of the original harl should be analysed to clearly identify the various constituents e.g. shell, aggregate, lime proportions etc. The new harl should have a wide range of aggregate grading and replicate any local mix or application traditions.
Limewash: Historic limewash can have several constituents ranging from natural pigments, tallow and other organic additives. Limewash is readily available pre made, or can be mixed on site with appropriate pigments. Limewash should be applied to a pre-wetted surface. Multiple coats will be required as it should be applied in sufficiently thin coats (the consistency of skimmed milk) to allow carbonation. It is best practice to screen limewash from rapid drying; where the limewash is exposed to drying winds or temperature, repeated wetting of the screens will be necessary. Layers of limewash should not be applied if the appropriate attendance to control rapid drying is not possible.
Traditional roofing materials include slate, tile, pantile, corrugated iron and thatch. Eligible repairs to roofs include both repairs to such traditional roof coverings well as the underlying roof structure such as timbers and sarking. Roof structures using iron or metal members are also be eligible for support, where these pre-date 1940.
It is important to ensure that the roof structure is sound. Where there are significant signs of movement in the roof structure, advice from an engineer experienced in the repair of historic structures may be required. Repair damaged timbers using new preservative treated timbers run to the original profile and treat rot or insect attack locally as required. Timbers should be spliced in-line or using splice plates, rather than cheek bolted. Where possible, separate timber repairs from damp stonework with a damp proof course and allow for free ventilation. Further guidance is available on the repair of structural joinery.
Re-slating, including replacement of lead flashings, ridges, secret gutters and other weatherings: Re-slate using sound original slates recovered from the site together with matching slates brought in as required to make up the required number. Slates should be laid to match the original laying pattern or coursing using slates of the same shape as the originals. Slates should be fixed with non-ferrous nails. Any replacement flashings, secret gutters, ridges and other weatherings should be in lead or zinc, as appropriate. Further guidance is available on the maintenance and repair of slate roofs.
Tiled roofs: Replace broken or unsound tiles with new tiles of the same colour, profile, size and glaze (if relevant). Tiled roofs are normally laid on battens and counter battens (over roofing felt). It is important to understand the original roof construction and repair the timber substructure where necessary, including replacement felt if required. Fired clay roof tiles have a limited life as the tile begins to delaminate, shatter and break down with exposure and age. Consequently, older roofs may require a higher proportion of new tiles.
Pantile roofs: In the re-tiling and repair of pantile roofs, lime mortar should be used for sealing the underside if required (known as torching), rather than cement. Cement mortar will make it harder to repair a pantile roof in the future, and can have an adverse effect on the softer tiles due to its hardness. In contrast, lime mortar is breathable, allowing moisture to evaporate without damaging the tiles. It is also slightly flexible and can be more easily removed from tiles in future repair work. Further guidance is available on the maintenance and repair of pantiled roofs.
Repairs to corrugated iron: Corrugated iron, though a product of industrialised manufacture, quickly became an integral feature of many vernacular buildings. In some cases corrugated iron was placed over earlier thatched roofs and has helped to preserve the original thatch. If this is the case, then it is generally preferable to retain and repair the corrugated iron roof, rather than re-instate the thatch. Where possible, repairs to corrugate iron should be on a like for like basis taking the profile and sheet size from the original. Further information is available on the care and maintenance of corrugated iron.
Repairs to thatch: There are many types of thatch and thatching techniques in Scotland and these roofs are now a scarce and highly valued historic resource. Proposals for the repair of traditional thatched roofs should follow the original as far as possible and include repair or replacement of structure, substratum and thatch type. A search for archival visual or photographic evidence of the building and its thatched roof will be necessary before works are proposed. Archaeological trenching through the thatch may also help to provide invaluable information on the make up of the roof and allow the sources of the thatch materials, including underlying layers, to be identified. Further guidance on thatch and thatching techniques is available from Historic Scotland, in Technical Advice Note (TAN) 4 'Thatch and Thatching Techniques'.
Other roof repairs: This Option will also support
- The repair and replacement of structurally unsound stonework at roof level, including skews, crowsteps, skewputts and the reinstatement of fallen or dismantled chimney stacks.
- The reinstatement or repair of ornamental finials, brattishing, ridge tiles, vents, cowls and ridge ventilators.
In all cases, you will to need to be able to provide evidence of the original form of these features and be able to demonstrate that the proposed repair or reinstatement is sympathetic in terms of its form and materials. This Option will also support the replacement of chimney cans and (if necessary) the installation of mesh guards to protect against debris or bird ingress. Replacement chimney cans should match the original form wherever possible. If there is no evidence of the original, use pots that are in use on buildings of similar period in the vicinity. Metallic flue linings and other items associated with bringing chimney into serviceable condition are not eligible for support under this Option; eligible costs are restricted to the repair of historic masonry and detailing of the chimney only.
The efficient disposal of water is essential to the wellbeing of all buildings, especially those that were built in a traditional manner. Cast iron has traditionally been one of the most popular materials for the manufacture of rainwater goods such as gutters and downpipes, although other materials such as zinc and even timber have been used. Such items provide an important function in carrying water away from a building and preventing it from penetrating the fabric. Poorly functioning rainwater goods are often directly responsible for serious internal and external deterioration and costly repairs.
Where cast iron rainwater goods are sound, ensure they are clear and flowing freely. If repairs or replacements to original or historic rainwater goods are required (such as gutters, rhones, hoppers and downpipes), these repairs or replacements should be in cast iron, although modern zinc gutters can also be used where these are a good match with the original. All cast-iron pipework and rhones should be prepared, primed and painted in accordance with manufacturer's written instructions using a high performance paint specification. New cast iron goods should be painted before site assembly. Make good any joints, chips and fixings immediately after fixing. Further guidance is available on the repair and maintenance of rainwater goods.
If the building has existing rainwater goods in modern materials (such as uPVC) these should be left provided that they are sound. If modern rainwater goods are failing, these should be replaced in cast iron to match original profile and detail if these are known.
It is important to ensure that you will have maintenance access at ground level following the work. It is also important to check ground drainage to ensure that water is being conducted properly away from the building.
Windows, louvres, skylights and doors:
Traditional windows are an important part of the character of simple traditional buildings. Windows should be overhauled and repaired by carefully splicing in new matching timber to follow the original profile. Where new replacement windows are required, they should be single glazed and manufactured from matching timber sections following the design and profiles of the originals where these are known. Reuse original ironmongery wherever possible. If replacement ironmongery is required, use ironmongery that meets the modern requirements of security and exit, but is of a style and quality to match the originals.
Where modern items have been installed in more recent years and now need to be replaced (such as UPVC framed windows), replace these with appropriate traditional items, to match the form of the originals where these are known.
Paint external joinery, using good quality oil-based paint including preparation as recommended in the paint manufacturer's written instructions. Ensure that the paint is not spread onto adjacent masonry. Match the paint colour to the original if this is known. Avoid the use of brilliant white for pre-1920 buildings; use off-white instead.
If the building includes leaded or zinc-camed windows, their repair or replacement (if necessary) is eligible for support under this Option. Advice should be sought from a glass specialist to identify what works are required to bring the window construction into a good state of repair.
Original cast iron skylights should always be repaired and reused if possible rather than being replaced. If replacement rooflights are required, replace with new rooflights of the same size and appearance as the original.
Doors should be always be repaired and reused if possible rather than being replaced. However, if a replacement is required, the materials, design and paint finish of the original should be matched in a like-for-like replacement.
The interior of a rural vernacular building may contain historic features that indicate the original use of the building, like cattle troughs and stall dividers. Internal plaster, joinery, metal and decorative work and original flooring such as flagstones, quarry tiles or cobbles add character too. These, and other features that may no longer be in use, such as meat hooks or threshing equipment, are part of a building's history and character and are worth looking after.
As with repairs to the exterior of the building, you will need to demonstrate that any interior repairs proposed are sympathetic in terms of their form and materials used. It is also important that you ensure that the building is kept watertight and well ventilated, so that internal fabric does not begin or continue to rot or decay. Advice is available on identifying and dealing with damp.
Note that refitting of rooms and the repair or introduction of electrics, plumbing and non-original interior fixtures or fittings is not eligible for funding under this Option. As with the rest of this Option, eligible works are confined to the repair of historic fabric only.
The repair of decorative cast or wrought ironwork, such as railings, gates, roof structures and supporting columns in barns or byres, is eligible for support under this Option. There may also be other features present such as boot scrapers, finials and weathervanes, vents or agricultural fittings. The nature of repairs will be case-specific; specialist input will be required to ensure that the repairs proposed are appropriate to the form of ironwork (i.e. mild steel, cast iron or wrought iron). As with all repairs supported through this Option, you will need to be able to demonstrate that any repairs proposed to ironwork are sympathetic in terms of their form and materials used.
Who can apply
Any rural land manager, business, non-profit organisation, rural community group or individual with an eligible building.
- Vernacular rural buildings eligible for repair under this Option must be pre-1940 in date, constructed primarily from local materials in response to local needs, and following traditional design patterns. Examples of eligible buildings include simple farm or estate buildings, byres, mills, kilns, smiddies, workshops and doocots.
- This Option cannot be used to support repairs to the following structures: Boundary walls, drystane dykes, ha has, walled gardens, bridges, greenhouses, Dutch barns, gate piers, statues, fountains and other ornamental features.
- This Option cannot be used to repair any buildings that are either used or intended for use as human domestic habitation (residence), either permanent, temporary or seasonal. In addition, the building or buildings repaired must not be sold or used for human domestic habitation (residence) for five years following payment. 'Residence' in this context means using the building as overnight accommodation; buildings used as workplaces during the day (such as workshops or farm office buildings) but unoccupied at night are eligible.
- This Option cannot be used to carry out any work to a scheduled monument.
- Works eligible for payment under this Option are restricted to either the sympathetic repair (on a like-for-like basis) of the historic fabric of the building, or the reinstatement of original or historic features or materials that have been replaced by modern materials in more recent years.
- Works that will alter the profile of the building (such as extensions or changes to the height or profile of the roof) are not eligible for support under this Option.
- The refitting of interiors, repair or introduction of electrics, plumbing and non-original interior fixtures or fittings is not eligible for funding under this Option. The introduction of non-original features and materials is not eligible for payment under this Option unless there are overriding health and safety or building regulations requirements for doing so.
- This Option can be undertaken in conjunction with other Rural Priorities Options to modify a building’s interior (such as Diversification Outwith Agriculture or Creation of Microenterprises), on the condition that the overall project proposal will not result in any loss or modification of the historic fabric of the building or the loss of original internal fixtures. If the overall project proposal will result in any loss or modification of the historic fabric of the building or the loss of original internal fixtures, then none of the project will be eligible for support under this option.
- Items funded under this Option must be maintained and not modified for five years following payment.
- Applicants' own labour costs are not eligible for funding under this Option.
What costs will be supported
You will receive a contribution of up to 75% of the total eligible repair costs. You can only make a claim once you have completed the work, and in the year specified for the work in your contract. Please see the guidance on Claims for capital payments for more information.
Specialist fees and fees (such as architects, surveyors and engineers) are eligible for payment under this Option, up to a ceiling of 12% of total eligible repair costs. Receipted invoices must be provided in support of your payment claim.
To ensure value for money we require you to provide 2 competitive quotes for any capital items applied for which are based on actual cost. If, however, you are seeking grant support towards something so specialised it is only available through 1 source then we would accept 1 quote. Please see the guidance on quotes and estimates for more information.
If you are repairing a building through this Option in conjunction with other Rural Priorities options to modify a building’s interior, you must make it explicitly clear in your Proposal and supporting documentation which works you are seeking funding for under which option.
Match funding from Historic Scotland: Please be aware that Historic Scotland gives grant for the repair of the historic fabric of buildings which are considered to be outstanding. They cannot grant aid the same repair works that are supported from another stream of Scottish Government funding, such as Rural Priorities. If you are considering seeking funding for your project from Historic Scotland, or already have an offer of grant from them, it is very important that you contact them to discuss your Rural Priorities Proposal.
Rate of support
Up to 75% of actual costs.
In addition to the grant ceiling, the total amount of grant payable for non-agricultural, commercial activities can be limited because of rules applied in relation to State Aid.
Inspections and verification
The inspector will check the work carried out is the same as specified in the approval, that the building is being used for the specified purpose and that the claimed costs are justified. For inspection and claims purposes, you must retain a copy of any consent documents obtained also.
List of links to relevant technical guidance
Historic Scotland safeguards the nation's historic environment and promotes its understanding and enjoyment on behalf of Scottish Ministers. Their website includes a wide range of guidance on the care of historic buildings, some of which (such as the Inform series) have already been linked elsewhere in this Option guidance.
The Institute of Historic Building Conservation is the principal body in the United Kingdom representing professionals and specialists involved in the conservation and preservation of the historic environment.
The Scottish Lime Centre specialises in advice and training in the use of lime-based materials for the conservation and repair of Scotland's traditional buildings.
The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland is responsible for recording, interpreting and collecting information about the built environment. Their website includes links to a number of searchable databases.
Pastmap is a free online resource that allows you to access information about scheduled and unscheduled archaeological sites, listed buildings, and Inventory gardens and designed landscapes. Registration is required.
Historic Scotland Conservation Group Publications
Tel: 0131 668 8638
Historic Scotland Technical Advice Line
Tel: 0131 668 8668