Cleaning out gutters on an old house in Dorset
Cleaning out gutters on an old house in Dorset © Historic England
Cleaning out gutters on an old house in Dorset © Historic England

Maintenance Plans for Older Buildings

This page explains how to draw up a maintenance plan for a building, what the plan needs to consider, and how often it needs to be supported by maintenance inspections.

Maintenance plans should be proportionate to the size and complexity of the building. For large buildings, or those with complex uses, a maintenance plan may form part of a comprehensive asset management plan.

For smaller buildings, such as privately-owned dwellings, it might consist simply of a checklist to be used during an inspection. The Your Home section for homeowners has an example of an inspection checklist. Maintenance plans also provide a useful resource for new owners, and may go some way towards ensuring continuity of good maintenance practices.

While much maintenance is routine, there will be occasions when the need for action is triggered by unforeseen events, such as accidental damage or extreme weather. A good maintenance plan should make provision for dealing with such eventualities.

The understanding of the building and its behaviour gained through regular surveys will help to identify areas that might be at risk. For example, if it is known that gutters and gullies are prone to blockage with leaves they should be checked during and after autumn gales.

The plan should highlight all areas particularly at risk and assign responsibilities to individuals for ad hoc inspections and action.

Devising the maintenance plan

The building as a whole, including its interior and surrounding site, should be considered and understood so that any factors that might cause problems are taken into account.

Orientation and location will also have an effect on the building. The maintenance requirements for a building in an exposed upland area or in close proximity to the sea will be different to one on a sheltered inland site.

The maintenance plan should also make provision for building services, both those that protect the building such as fire detection systems and conservation heating, as well as those that pose a potential risk to historic fabric such as electrical and plumbing systems.

Maintenance inspections

There are two types of maintenance inspection:

  • Periodic inspections - carried out at determined intervals depending on the nature of the building
  • Occasional inspections - carried out following severe weather

All inspections and maintenance work should be recorded. Using basic checklists that are completed during the inspection makes this easy.

Photographs are helpful for monitoring the condition of various elements of the building.