There are many good reasons for undertaking regular building maintenance.
It can help you to:
- retain your building’s maximum value, particularly when original architectural features are still present
- save money through repair, rather than replacement, of features, such as windows
- prevent more serious problems, such as dry rot, and avoid the cost and disruption of major repairs
- maintain the appearance of your building and contribute to a sense of pride in your community
- promote sustainability by protecting your building for future generations to use and enjoy
- plan and budget for more expensive maintenance works, such as external redecoration.
What is Maintenance?
Maintenance simply involves regular inspections to check on the condition of your building and its surroundings, and timely repairs if faults are found. You do not need to be an expert to carry out inspections or undertake simple repairs. If more serious problems exist or if a building is large or particularly complex, you may wish to consult a qualifi ed surveyor or architect. Simple maintenance will not normally require approval if your building is listed, but if more extensive repairs are necessary, you should check first with the conservation officer of your local authority.
Routine maintenance is probably the most important action that you can take to protect your historic building. By spotting minor problems early, you can prevent serious damage and the need for expensive repairs later on.
Materials and Repairs
As a rule, any repairs to your historic building should be carried out on a like-for-like basis using materials and techniques that match those originally used. This will help to ensure that the old and new are compatible in terms of their performance and appearance. The use of inappropriate modern materials can often cause more serious problems than they are intended to solve. For example, repointing soft stone or brickwork with a hard cement mortar can trap moisture and speed up decay. Although lime mortars and renders need to be repaired or replaced periodically, a traditional soft lime mortar will help a building to tolerate a degree of moisture and movement. Before you undertake any repair, make sure that you have identified and addressed any underlying causes. It is pointless, for instance, treating an outbreak of dry rot if the damp penetration that has caused it is not tackled.
You need to be aware of health and safety considerations. If you are asking someone else to undertake the work, you should familiarize yourself with the relevant regulations. Remain alert to potential dangers, such as slippery surfaces, fragile roofs or unboarded attic floors.
When Using a Ladder
- make sure, that it is long enough for the purpose and that it is properly secured top and bottom
- avoid placing the ladder on a soft or uneven surface or resting it on guttering
- have a person on the ground to steady the ladder
- always keep at least one hand on the ladder for support
- do not over-reach or lean away from the ladder
- do not use it in wet or windy weather.
Tools and Equipment for Maintenance Inspections
As a minimum, you are likely to need:
- a copy of your maintenance plan
- a torch
- a penknife
- a camera
- a notebook
- a pen
- a pair of strong gloves
- a trowel for clearing gutters.
You may also need:
- a ladder
- safety glasses, if you are clearing debris above head height
- a facemask, if you are clearing pigeon droppings.