Mighty headaches from little acorns grow

Jan 6, 2023
Against the backdrop of rising living costs and following a global pandemic, property maintenance may seem like a low priority. However, adopting simple routine checks can help prevent your building falling into rapid and potentially costly disrepair.
Put simply, maintenance is routine work required to keep a building in good condition. Good maintenance is about understanding the approximate life cycle of a material, identifying problems before they become too serious and knowing the remedial action required to put things right.
In a report published in 2019, English Heritage confirmed that poor maintenance and repair results in an increased cost liability which is prone to rapid escalation. It identified that delaying repairs increased the cost liability significantly and it highlighted that roofs, rainwater goods and drainage are the primary cause of defects and consequential decay.
Although that particular report focused on churches, many of the findings are transferable to other traditionally constructed buildings. An unsuspecting Savills client was served a stark reminder of this during a recent inspection of a traditional roof.
What had started off as a fairly innocuous displaced slate some four years ago now resulted in the need for roofing, joinery and structural stabilisation work. An acorn had found its way into the top of the wall which had become exposed by the slipped slate at eaves level.
An oak tree then began to grow, dislodging additional slates and exposing the bearing of a roof truss and more of the wallhead which, in turn, led to the decay of the timber truss bearing. So while the proverb ‘mighty oaks from little acorns grow’ springs to mind, perhaps ‘mighty headaches from little acorns grow’ is more apt.
As we make our way through winter's inclement weather, here’s a list of points to consider.
•  Develop a maintenance plan which accommodates both regular and ad hoc inspections. This should be proportionate to the size and complexity of your building and in a logical sequence.
• The plan should make provision for services, both for protection – such as fire detection and conservation heating – and potential risks such as electrical and plumbing.
•  Look at getting roofs, gutters and rainwater disposal repaired and cleared, especially at this time of year.
And finally, in the colder months, heating and ventilation is imperative to mitigate internal mould issues and reduce internal condensation.
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