SPAB Building Maintenance Course: Sara Crofts, June 2012

Building Maintenance

SPAB Maintenance – Sacrewell Presentation (PDF)

SPAB Maintenance – Sacrewell Handouts (PDF)

10.00    Welcome and introduction

            Old buildings in context

10.15    Caring for old buildings

Traditional materials and building construction techniques

            What is maintenance?         

            Why is maintenance important?

11.00    Dealing with damp and decay

An explanation of the mechanisms that cause buildings to decay

How to diagnose and deal with damp

11.15    Refreshment break

12.30    Managing maintenance

            Managing the routine care of historic buildings       

            Understanding the role of professional inspections and reports

            Managing relationships with professionals, contractors and specialists       

1.00      Practical observation exercise (in groups if appropriate)

Looking at a building element by element, inside and outside, to identify

vulnerable areas of the fabric of the building and maintenance issues.

1.30      Close

Practical exercise

Whilst we are studying this building please bear in mind that all old buildings have their faults and failings.  Often these faults are a result of the way that they were built, the materials used in their construction or changes that have been made since the building was erected.  Many of the issues we will be dealing with are common to all buildings, regardless of age or style.  We know that people do their best to look after the buildings in their care, often with limited resources.  Even when problems are identified, it is not always easy to find a solution.  We should therefore try not to be too critical of the work done by others and remember that our own buildings may face similar issues from time to time!


Some questions to think about during the practical exercise:

  • Can you identify the materials used to construct this building?
  • Are the materials hardwearing and robust or more delicate and fragile?
  • What implications might this have for the maintenance of this building?
  • Can you identify how rainwater drains away from the roofs?
  • How well does this building deal with the disposal of rainwater?
  • Can you suggest any improvements to the way that rainwater is dealt with?
  • How easy do you think it is to get access to the roofs or other high areas?
  • Do you think that the owners might be able to tackle tasks such as cleaning the gutters or should this be left to contractors?


After the course

Hopefully attending this course will have provided you with the knowledge and resources to look after your building with more confidence.  If so, here are some suggestions about what to do next:

  • Draw up an inspection checklist and a maintenance plan for your building.
  • Sign up for our free monthly email bulletin service to help keep your building in tiptop condition (visit http://www.spabfim.org.uk/newsletter_signup.php).
  • Call our technical helpline if you would like further advice on repair and maintenance issues.  The helpline normally operates Monday to Thursday on 0207 456 0916 from 9.30am until 12.30pm although this is sometimes subject to change.  The SPAB can also help you to find suitable contractors or other specialists.
  • Have a look at our website at http://www.spab.org.uk where you will find case studies, additional information and many links to other sources of advice and support.
  • Visit our online bookshop at http://www.spab.org.uk/publications/the-bookshop to view our range of technical pamphlets and information sheets.
  • Become a member of the SPAB and receive a copy of Cornerstone, our quarterly magazine, plus invitations to join our regional group events. Sign up at www.spab.org.uk/spab-membership/


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