Advice & Guidance

Understanding Why Maintenance is Important

The importance of preventative maintenance cannot be over-emphasised. There are many good reasons for maintaining your place of worship, which may be summarised as follows:

Preserving our heritage

Preventative maintenance keeps up a building's appearance and extends its life. It also prevents the loss of original fabric, as less material is lost in regular, minimal and small-scale work than in extensive restoration projects.

Preventing large repair bills

Preventing large billsPreventative maintenance makes economic sense as it may reduce or potentially eliminate the need for, and the extent of, major repair projects. Repairs can be disruptive and costly in terms of fabric and finances, so extending the period between repair campaigns by carrying out maintenance places less of a burden on community resources. A small but regular investment in tasks such as the routine cleaning of gutters and drains can be much cheaper and less inconvenient than having to cope with a serious outbreak of dry rot in timber roof trusses following years of neglect.

"Good conservation of heritage assets is founded on appropriate routine management and maintenance. Such an approach will minimise the need for larger repairs or other interventions and will usually represent the most economical way of sustaining an asset." PPS5 Planning for the Historic Environment: Practice Guide

Preserving resources

Preventative maintenance is an inherently sustainable activity. All old buildings contain embodied energy (the amount of energy that was required to extract the materials and construct the building). If we allow old buildings to deteriorate all this energy will go to waste. It is therefore far better to keep our existing buildings in use and in a good state of repair. This will reduce our need for new materials, which will in turn reduce processing and transport requirements as well as reducing waste and energy use. It may also reduce the demand for new greenfield development.

Mr Spabby helps a place of worship

Promoting guardianship

Preventative maintenance ensures that our places of worship will be in a fit state to be handed over to future generations. Many people believe that historic buildings enrich our quality of life. They help to preserve our sense of identity and give character to the places we live in. They might even be said to form a physical and tangible link between our generation and those of the past, providing a sense of continuity. We are only guardians of our historic buildings and if we want to be able to hand them over to future generations to enjoy we need to make sure that we look after their fabric. The easiest and most cost-effective way to do this is to implement an active maintenance regime.

"It is for all these buildings, therefore, of all times and styles, that we plead, and call upon those who have to deal with them, to put Protection in the place of Restoration, to stave off decay by daily care, to prop a perilous wall or mend a leaky roof... thus, and thus only can we protect our ancient buildings, and hand them down instructive and venerable to those that come after us." (William Morris, SPAB Manifesto 1877)

Employing a contractor

Providing employment

Preventative maintenance can provide opportunities for employment as some maintenance tasks such as cleaning high-level gutters may require specially trained personnel and specialist equipment. The cyclical nature of maintenance is therefore a steady source of all year round work.

© SPAB 2010