Building Resilience: Maintaining Traditional Buildings

For Maintenance Week our Heritage Trainee has put together a short guide to the concept of maintenance and why its important to maintain traditional buildings.

Maintenance of your building is defined as activities such as cleaning, painting, and minor repairs carried out systematically, on a planned cycle, often year-to-year, and based on regular inspection. Maintenance should be conducted regularly as part of a planned routine to spot small problems early and prevent them from growing into large, complex issues. The concept of maintenance is particularly applicable to traditional buildings, which should undergo regular maintenance to keep them functioning effectively.

The Importance of Maintenance

Due to the age of many materials used in the construction of traditional buildings, they are more likely to be nearing the end of their life than newer, more modern components. It is important to ensure that any defects are spotted swiftly to prevent deterioration from progressing and the building condition from worsening. Repair works to tackle what may have started off as a simple maintenance issue can become very costly, so keeping your building well-maintained could save you a lot of money in the long run!

What Constitutes Good Maintenance

While maintenance is important, for it to be effective, it should be tailored to the needs of your building and performed regularly. Maintenance performed at regular intervals will shorten the time between defects being spotted and solutions being implemented, reducing the risk of large problems developing, with correspondingly large repair bills. Maintenance inspections and repair tasks should be recorded, allowing an understanding of the building’s repair and maintenance history to be developed. This will serve as an invaluable resource going forward, enabling you to predict future repair and maintenance needs for your building more accurately. A good starting point is the House Maintenance Checklist in Historic Environment Scotland’s Short Guide: Maintaining Your Home, alongside useful advice and information about understanding your traditional building. Good maintenance should also involve maintenance and repair activities being performed by suitably competent individuals to maximize effectiveness. Some repair and maintenance tasks can be completed by homeowners, while other jobs, such as replacing slipped/broken slates, should be carried out by suitable contractors.


Maintenance Tasks You Can Do Yourself


Simpler maintenance tasks can be performed by building owners. Generally, these maintenance tasks are minimally invasive, are not particularly complex or time consuming, and do not require any specialist equipment. Some straightforward DIY maintenance tasks include:

  • Checking roof elements from ground level including chimneys and associated parts, roof coverings, roofing leadwork and junctions between roof materials.
  • Cleaning gutters to ensure they are free from debris and are less likely to experience blockages. Please note that you should only attempt this if you have safe access to your guttering.
  • Inspecting rainwater goods for obvious signs of leakage or other defects from ground level, including checking masonry for visible damp patches.
  • Visually checking the condition of external pointing to identify areas which need to be repointed.
  • Checking windows and doors for obvious signs of rot and painting doors and windows as required.
  • Maintaining the ground around the building, ensuring it is free from unnecessary vegetation which could hold moisture, and making sure that sub-floor vents are free from blockages so that they can function effectively.

Maintenance Tasks Requiring Specialists


Some maintenance tasks will need to be performed by specialist inspectors and contractors, such as:

  • Detailed inspections of chimney(s), roof coverings and roof leadwork, as well as repairs to these elements.
  • Repairing and replacing defective rainwater goods, including gutters and downpipes.
  • Specialist inspection of your building’s masonry, as well as repairs to these elements.
  • Performing joinery repair or replacement works involving timber doors and/or windows.

Further Information


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