The common-sense perspective tells us that that prevention is better than cure and that planned routine maintenance provides extends the service life of products. This is the reason most of us regularly service and inspect our cars, boilers and other expensive equipment, yet this understanding does not always extend to our buildings.
Routine planned maintenance is promoted by most statutory, regulatory and funding bodies. Organisations such as Cadw and the Church in Wales have devoted sections of their websites to it, but still we all to often see buildings with the small things neglected – and these small problems can very quickly turn into expensive repair projects.
There are several reasons for this – possibly the biggest is the lack of funding support for maintenance works, compared to funding for repairs (though funding for repairs is fast becoming as difficult to source!). Another reason may just be that building wardens just don’t have the skills and knowledge to develop and implement a maintenance plan. Unfortunately, we cannot help with the funding issue, but with this series of articles we will try to provide the knowledge to develop your maintenance plan – and if you need further assistance, click here to find out if we can provide further help with your maintenance plan.
Best Practice for Maintaining Your Church
1. Understanding the Heritage Significance of Your Church
All historic buildings should have a statement of significance – this document will be used for any funding or statutory applications you make, but it should also be used when considering any maintenance or repair project.
2. Integration with Strategic Plan
Many churches will have some sort of strategic plan that sets out their mission. If such a document exists (and it may be something very simple), it should reference planned maintenance. This should include reference to how maintenance will be planned and who within the organisation should be responsible for implementing it.
3. Planned not Reactive
Some reactive maintenance is always likely to be needed, but in general, taking a planned approach should reduce the frequency and overall cost of repairs. Maintenance should be prioritised taking into account the status and condition of the fabric
4. Regular Inspections
Most churches will have regular condition surveys by a conservation professional. These are essential, but more frequent inspections are also needed. These do not necessarily need to be carried out by a professional surveyor, a casual inspection can pick up small problems before they develop into something more costly. A system of reporting can also be very useful, enabling all building users to get involved in preventing repairs.
5. Information Management
Good information and records are vital for the effective maintenance management of listed churches. Well-kept records will detail the historic development of the church, which will be useful for informing future projects as well as planning spending.
6. Setting Budgets
The maintenance plan should enable your organisation to budget for most typical repair and maintenance works. This will include setting aside an annual portion of the overall budget, or planning fundraising for larger and less frequent works, such as redecoration.