These simple paper houses were made from A4 sheets of paper printed with a list of over 5,000 Schedule of Rates (SOR) codes obtained via a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. These SOR codes allow residents to check how much a repair should cost, against what they are actually charged. We have used SOR codes to help contest service charge, and major works bills on Cressingham Gardens Estate (CGE). The SOR document can be downloaded here: CompleteScheduleofRatesv4.ods
The SOR codes constitute an contractual agreement between Lambeth and large scale repairs contractors such as Mears who undertake repairs to thousands of Lambeth's properties. With these codes Lambeth's housing database is able to automatically assign costs to reported repairs. SOR codes define financial relationships between contractors, residents, and Lambeth. They are implicated in multi-million pound repairs contracts, and summaries of repairs costs which can determine if an estate is put within a regeneration programme. They define specific jobs a contractor should do, and are a hidden aspect of service charge statements which charge residents for repairs.
On CGE I devised the 'paper houses activity' to open up discussion about SOR codes, and the role they play in organising repairs and contractors on an estate. I put up an old army tent in the middle of the estate, which was included as part of a larger performance. Then across two days invited passers by to help make paper houses and hang them in the tent. During the day local kids helped make the paper houses and we discussed the proposed regeneration of CGE. Later the kids parents drifted over and we talked about how ways of challenging how repairs are undertaken. Then each evening, a performance/tour of CGE devised by a local Theatre group Degenerate Space, brought large group of 40+ people to the tent. I showed the group how to make paper houses, and gave a short talk about Lambeth Councils continuing failure to maintain CGE.
The SOR codes provide a way to decipher how work and labor is organised with Lambeth's housing database. The also offered a means to contest repairs data, talk with residents, connect with people outside the estate, and pull into question repairs costs which have been used by Lambeth council to justify demolition of the CGE.