Regular maintenance

 

Stave off decay by daily care.

William Morris, upon setting up the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings in 1877

The importance of maintenance cannot be over emphasised. There are many good reasons for regular care:

  • preserving heritage: regular, minimal and small scale work maintains original features and fabric
  • saving money: when things go wrong they cost a lot to put right. One of the best ways to avoid major repairs is regular care and ongoing maintenance. 
  • preserving resources: preventative maintenance is sustainable, by keeping buildings in a good condition we save the energy and materials needed to repair them
  • promoting guardianship and community involvement: historic churches are in our care in trust for the next generation, as they have been for centuries. Maintenance keeps them in good repair, and can involve communities in caring for their own heritage

There are three key elements to maintenance:

  • inspection: you should undertake regular inspections, to assess condition, identify problems and to decide whether work is necessary
  • regular maintenance tasks: jobs like clearing gutters, testing services, checking for damp and clearing the churchyard
  • minor repairs: ongoing minor repairs to the building, perhaps as the result of extreme weather, can include fixing slipped roof tiles, replacing broken glass or making temporary ‘flashband’ repairs

Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings: faith in maintenance

Scotland’s Churches Trust: maintain your church

Ulster Historic Churches Trust: church maintenance

a man examining a lamp in a churchPermissions

Simple maintenance tasks to listed buildings do not normally require consent, but you should ensure that you carry them out correctly, with appropriate materials and techniques. For more complex maintenance tasks, or minor repairs tasks you may need to seek permission from the relevant authorities.

Health and safety

Don’t forget: identifying maintenance issues and doing the resulting work can have health and safety risks. Whoever does the work, the congregation is responsible for having proper insurance in place and for ensuring that a risk assessment is done. 

National churches trust: health and safety

National maintenance week

An annual event in November to remind us all of the importance of regular maintenance.

Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings: national maintenance week