Tips for Restoring Old Houses

  1. You need to know when the last mortar tuckpointing maintenance was made. In general, the recommended cycle is 50-60 years.
  2. Make sure to use a matching color, elevation and consistency of the mortar.
  3. Remember to remove only mortar which is damaged. Replace the damaged one with the same material as the original.
  4. Stay away from sealers, as they can trap in moisture and cause problems in cold weather.
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What is the aim of urban-regeneration?

The Planning Horizons paper by RTPI stresses on the correlation between poor health as well as the financial and social problems which people living in poorer areas suffer from.  The fact that the areas where there is predominant poverty are made up of social housing, junk fast foot places, betting centers and cheap off license shops actually helps the people residing the area to lead unhealthy lives. The easy access to junk food, cheap liquor, gambling and other negative and harmful “pleasures” is not a result of bad planning, but to the total lack of planning from the local authorities, according to the paper which promotes healthier cities. The RTPI actually blames the local authorities and the government for abandoning the planning for such poor areas altogether and letting the demand and the market itself define the type of stores, shops and other infrastructure that are opened there.
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Are the employers responsible for buying their employees work boots (UK vs US)?

The situation in the US

us-mapIn the USA, the employer is responsible for providing the employees with safety work boots, in the cases in which there are serious hazards at the work place which could cause injuries to the feet of the people working there. This is regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the Ministry of Labor. The conditions considered hazardous and require the use of protective footwear, according to the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) are those where there are risks of actual foot injuries, such as: puncturing, spraining, lacerations or crushing by falling or rolling objects, as well as risks of electrical hazards (static discharge or electric-shock hazard).  The protective work boots should comply with the relative ASTM standards, which means that they should be properly market and tested for compliance during the manufacturing process. The current ASTM standards which need to be taken into consideration when purchasing safety work boots are:  ASTM F2412-11 (Standard Test Methods for Foot Protection) and the ASTM F 2413-11 (Standard Specification for Performance Requirements for Protective (Safety) Toe Cap Footwear).

In simple terms that means that if you work in the logging industry – one of the most dangerous industries in the world, then you should wear special high-quality logging boots like these.

The situation in the UK:

uk-mapIn the UK, the Personal Protective Equipment and Work Regulations require that the employers ensure that the employees have the appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE) including safety work boots, in cases when there are actual risks of hazards in the workplace, according to a risk assessment. According to these regulations, the hazards to take into consideration include: wetness, slippage, electrostatic build-up, falling heavy objects, chemical or metal splashing and abrasion. All protective footwear should be marked with the CE mark, which ensures that the safety requirements have been met through testing and certification.

The regulations also require that not only is the employer responsible for providing the safety and protection equipment and footwear, but is responsible for its proper maintenance. Routine checks of the protective footwear, clothing and other equipment needs to be made by the employer or an authorized person. Anything which is damaged needs to be replaced.

The employers in the UK are not responsible for the protective gear and safety footwear for subcontractors working at their site. This is the responsibility of the subcontractors themselves.

Although, if a risk assessment finds that the hazards and risks at the workplace are properly controlled by other means, then the requirement for providing protective gear for the employees is not valid.


Of course, it is better to be safe rather than sorry and make sure all measures are taken so that the workplace is as safe as possible for all employees and other people who enter it. It is crucial to perform a serious risk assessment, and it is recommended that the employers hire an independent authority, organization or consultant to perform a professional and objective risk assessment for them.

How good government planning promotes healthy communities

A government which has a well-developed planning system can truly help improve the health of a community by promoting social interaction. For this to happen, the local authorities need to give the public a say in the planning decisions regarding neighborhood and local planning.

us-capitolWhat this means is that the local authorities should promote:

  • Various events and opportunities for people in the community to meet. This can be done by establishing neighborhood centers, various mixed-use developments in the form of one single or more buildings, active public areas and others
  • A crime-free environment will provide the safety for all members of the community.
  • Accessibility for disabled members of the community to the public areas which will promote the improved communication between the members of the public.
  • Plan new shared spaces and facilities, such as various stores, sport and cultural venues, churches, public houses and other such places for gathering and communication amongst community members.
  • Help support and keep the services and facilities which enhance the meeting between community members.
  • Make sure that an integrated approach is taken when planning the location of residential buildings and the public service and facilities which serve the people in the community, so it is easier for them to take advantage of them.
  • Local planning should involve the members of the public in the decision making when planning new significant developments in the area.
  • Plan the development and support of new or existing schools and other centers for education, so that the public has easy access as well as a wider choice in regard to the education of their children and themselves.
  • The government must work with school and university authorities to help resolve key issues, and support the development of existing schools and the establishment of new ones wherever there is a need for expansion.
  • Ensure that the members of the community are in better health and condition by assessing the needs and planning the development of public places for recreation, sports and outdoor activities. A good plan can actually make more local people to go out, buy some good sports shoes, be more active, jog and take part in sports activities organized in these areas.
  • Plan and work on the protection of the existing green areas, and assess the need for expanding them if necessary. Green areas are important to any community, so ensuring that the members of the community have access to such areas is crucial for the wellbeing of the local people. This is especially important when the green has wildlife or has a historical or other precious value and meaning to the local community.