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, and particularly regular maintenance, cannot be stressed enough. 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. Historic England's research 'The Value of Maintenance?' has proved that acting on small repairs now can save 15-20% in costs further down the line.
  • 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

Find out more about maintenance in Richard Carr-Archer's article (National Churches Trust Trustee and architect) in our 2017-2018 Annual Review p.15

Maintenance Checklist Templates

The National Churches Trust place a strong emphasis on maintenance and encourages all churches to follow a maintenance checklist (or plan) in order to keep track of what needs doing and when. Applicants to our Grant Programmes are required to have one in place. We have a template available for you to use and adapt.

Maintenance Booker

Browse the MaintenanceBooker Resources Pages to view useful blog posts, videos, photographs and lots of useful links and sources on all aspects of church building maintenance. You can sign up to receive MaintenanceNews by email here.

Permissions

Even simple maintenance tasks to listed buildings may require consent. In the Church of England this might come under List B consent and require a form from the Archdeacon. It is best to check with your local DAC or governing body, and ensure that you carry them out correctly, with appropriate materials and techniques.

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. 

Funds

The National Churches Trust has grants available to support small maintenance works.

a man examining a lamp in a church