Do you own or look after a traditional building? 

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This is National Maintenance Week (20-27 November). It’s a reminder to anyone who cares for a  traditional property – of the straightforward steps they can take to protect their building from winter weather.

The SPAB (The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings) knows that carrying out simple, regular maintenance tasks will save money on expensive repairs further down the line, and allow us to live more sustainably. Buildings and construction make up 42% of the UK’s total carbon footprint. Keeping existing properties in good condition will significantly help in efforts to be ‘greener’.

A well-maintained building is not only likely to last longer, it is also most likely to be energy efficient. Damp is the most common cause of damage affecting buildings of all ages. Dry walls are better insulators than wet ones, and regular maintenance can help you spot a small problem before it becomes a larger, more costly one.

What can I do?

Small steps to keep a building dry can make a big difference. Clearing gutters and checking your roof’s condition once a year are simple ways to help prevent rainwater damage.

  • Look for blocked downpipes (best done during heavy rain to see water coming from any leaky joints – in dry weather look for stained brickwork)
  • Check ground level gullies and drains to make sure they are clear of debris like and have them cleaned out if necessary
  • Every autumn, clear any plants, leaves and silt from gutters, hopperheads, flat roofs and drainage channels. It’s a good idea to do this in spring too to deal with anything that might have found its way into the wrong place
  • Remove potentially damaging vegetation from behind downpipes by cutting back or removing the plant altogether
  • Use a hand mirror to look behind rainwater pipes as splits and cracks in old cast iron and aluminium often occur here and are not easily noticed
  • Fit bird/leaf guards to the tops of soil pipes and rainwater outlets to prevent blockages
  • Have gutters refixed if they are sloping the wrong way or discharging water onto the wall
  • If sections are beyond repair, make sure that replacements are made of the same material as the originals (on older houses, this is sometimes lead, but more usually cast iron)
  • Regular painting of cast iron is essential to prevent rust
  • Don’t undertake routine maintenance work at high level unless you are accompanied and have suitable equipment. If in doubt always seek help from a professional

SPAB (The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings) knows that carrying out simple, regular maintenance tasks will save money on expensive repairs further down the line, and allow us to live more sustainably. Buildings and construction make up 42% of the UK’s total carbon footprint. Keeping existing homes in good condition will  help significantly in efforts to be ‘greener’.

Call SPAB’s free technical advice line for advice Monday to Friday between 9.30am and 12.30pm on 020 7456 0916.

Watch a free pre-recorded  online lecture on maintaining Scotland’s buildings (runs until 27 November)

Read this case study from Historic Environment Scotland 

 

Talk to our team

Our Regeneration team works with Historic Environment Scotland and other funders to help building owners fund and carry out sympathetic and cost effective repairs and restoration of historic buildings through initiatives such as the Conservation Area Regeneration Schemes (CARS) They can also arrange and advise on training in traditional skills.  Find out more about what we do on our webpage.

You can email us here