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Edinburgh World Heritage/News/Maintaining the need to maintain – 25 to 29 November is Maintenance Week

Maintaining the need to maintain – 25 to 29 November is Maintenance Week

Nico Ferguson

22nd November 2019

Nico Ferguson

Regular building maintenance . . . wait, are you still there? Are your eyes glazing over already? This seems to be a topic that people can find hard to get excited about and it can be something that can easily be pushed to the bottom of our, seemingly endless ‘to do’ lists. In the world of building conservation, if a public campaign to save Notre-Dame Cathedral is the blue whale, building maintenance has to be, phytoplankton. Tiny, single-cell organisms which are a crucial part of the ocean food chain – without which much larger life wouldn’t be supported. They are also often overlooked. Maintenance can be thought of as small, achievable acts which are a crucial part of caring for our built environment and perhaps most notably for you, your home.

What is building maintenance?

Building maintenance involves a series of minor repairs, which are systematically carried out on a planned cycle, and based on regular inspection. Occasional, reactive maintenance inspections are advisable following severe weather which may cause damage to vulnerable parts of the building such as the slate roof, the gutters or chimney stacks.

What are the benefits of building maintenance?

Regular maintenance is crucial to ensure buildings remain wind and watertight and will help to avoid unplanned and expensive repairs in the future. Research by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings has shown that, “every £1 ‘saved’ by not carrying out preventative maintenance could cost £20 in repairs within 5 years”.

Regular upkeep enhances a building’s appearance and retains original fabric and details, which will add value to the property and contribute to the interest and beauty of our city.

Who is responsible for building maintenance?

We all are! Whether you live in a Georgian Townhouse, a Victorian tenement or a brutalist block of flats, we all need to take responsibility for the property we own. Looking around our beautiful city we are lucky enough to be surrounded by a unique cityscape and there is a collective responsibility to ensure that it is there for future generations to enjoy and call home.

If you live in a shared building, such as a tenement, your title deeds should provide you with details of the shared areas in your building. As co-proprietors, you have a joint responsibility for the maintenance of the property.

This all sounds pretty important, so where do I start?

  1. Get to know your building – regularly inspect your building with the help of some binoculars or a camera you can zoom in on high-level areas.
  2. Get to know your neighbours – Meet your neighbours a few times a year to discuss maintenance and identify problems with shared areas.
  3. Remove vegetation from the building – Edinburgh is known as a very green city but let’s make sure vegetation isn’t growing from walls, downpipes or gutters.
  4. Wind and watertight – inspect roofs and replace loose slipped, cracked or missing slates. Repair leaking gutters if necessary.
  5. Seek professional help – commission an independent professional inspection and use reputable maintenance contractors for any necessary work.

For additional information and advice this maintenance week, why not download our Guide to Building Maintenance in Changing Climate.