It’s been a multi-million pound turnaround affecting thousands of homes across Dundee.
Just four years ago, Dundee City Council was slammed by government watchdogs for the poor quality of city housing.
But since then, the authority has invested more than £150 million installing new insulation, kitchens and bathrooms in more than 1,000 city properties.
And housing bosses and residents say it’s made a real difference to the quality of people’s lives, with bills said to have dropped by as much as 50% thanks to better energy efficiency.
Paul Hathaway of Elders Court in Lochee, has had his two-bedroom flat upgraded. Paul is unemployed so any drop in his energy bill is a massive boost.
The 53-year-old said: “I got a new kitchen, new toilet, bath and what have you; new central heating, new radiators everything is done.
“The work wasn’t a problem and there wasn’t much mess. It was professional work.
“It’s a lot warmer. I’m very happy with it. The heating system we had before was very expensive to run all the time.”
Councils and registered social landlords are required to ensure all their properties meet the Scottish Housing Quality Standard by 2015.
Homes must be free from serious disrepair, be energy efficient, be healthy, safe and secure and have modern facilities.
More than 85% of the council’s housing stock now meets the standard.
A partnership scheme with British Gas has enabled the council to access an extra £8m in funding for energy efficiency measures, benefitting 1,100 residents.
Properties which have been improved include four blocks of multi-storeys in Dallfield and six in Lochee, along with tenements on Kirk Street.
Council housing convener John Alexander said: “A big part of the SQHS is about greater energy efficiency, more efficient heating systems, insulation and special district heating schemes all of which are designed to save tenants money and make their homes more comfortable.”
And depute housing convener Kevin Cordell added: “Improvements that have been undertaken have resulted in tangible benefits to tenants, with many seeing a noticeable difference on energy bills as great as 20-40% at Dallfield multis notwithstanding the overall improvement in the quality of their homes through kitchen and bathroom upgrades.”
Councillor Jimmy Black said: “The insulation programme is the thing that’s made the biggest difference. There are a number of houses inSt Mary’s, semi-detached cottages, which have been insulated.
“A lot of these are wooden houses and there was almost no insulation in them at all.
“To get them up to the standard we’ve been putting insulation on the outside and putting the cladding back on, which has hugely improved on energy efficiency.
“In terms of the flats at Kirk Street, it’s insulation being put on the outside of the walls, and a district heating system being put in. They’re going to get gas central heating from a boiler. The difference in people’s fuel bills is just extraordinary. The bills will be 50% of what they were before.”