Spring is a good time to stand back and consider any building repairs that are required over the next 12 months, notes the Listed Property Owners Club (LPOC), and regular inspection and maintenance is the key to keeping homes in good repair, as per its accessible step-by-step guidance.
The LPOC writes:
Here is the LPOC ‘Step-by-Step Guide: House Health Check’.
Step 1: CHECK THE ROOF. Make a visual check of the roof from outside at ground level. Look for broken or slipped slates and pay particular attention to ridge and hip tiles which may have been dislodged in the recent strong winds. Binoculars might help in looking for any damage to lead flashings or mortar fillets at the junction of the roof with walls, parapets or chimney stacks.
If you have access to the loft space take a look to see if there is any evidence of leaks or gaps. Check that there is good ventilation (ideally from one side of the loft space to the other) and look out for any rodent activity.
Step 2: CHECK THE CHIMNEY STACKS. Chimney stacks and parapets are exposed to the extremes of weather and are particularly vulnerable to decay. Look out for leaning chimneys, cracks, dislodged bricks, or open mortar joints. Check that the flaunching (the mortar on the top of the chimney which holds the pots in place) is sound and that any television aerials are not loose or dislodged.
Step 3: CHECK THE GUTTERS AND DOWNPIPES. Getting rainwater effectively from the roof into the surface water drains is important, so check that gutters are not blocked by debris, that fixing brackets appear sound, that gutters run effectively towards the downpipes and that the joints are not leaking. Unfortunately this is one check that is best carried out in a downpour when any deficiencies are likely to be more apparent.
Look for rust or cracks in cast-iron rainwater goods. They often appear at the back of downpipes which sometimes get missed during the painting cycle.
Step 4: CHECK THE DRAINS. Check that rainwater gullies are not blocked by leaves and that they are free flowing. Flushing them out with a bucket of water or a high pressure hose should remove any sludgy deposits which tend to build up in the gulley over time.
Step 5: CHECK THE WALLS. It is unlikely that the walls or the pointing will have deteriorated during the winter months but a quick visual check might reveal cracks or areas where damp is causing a problem. Green patches or mossy growths are normally a sign that something is not right.
Check that any air bricks are not blocked and that soil or debris is not piled up against the walls. Also look out for overhanging branches that could cause physical damage to the building.
Step 6: CHECK THE WINDOWS AND DOORS: Spring is a good time to check that the external joinery is in sound condition. If the paintwork is flaking or cracked then redecoration can be programmed for the summer months. Oil the hinges and locks and check the operation of the sashes and casements. Look out for cracks in putty, for rot in the window sills and for defective draught proofing.
Step 7: MAKE AN ACTION PLAN. Having completed you inspection you can plan for any maintenance items during the summer months. Bear in mind that most problems in traditional buildings are caused by damp, so prioritise items like the roof or broken gutters which might give rise to more serious consequences.
HEALTH AND SAFETY NOTE: Most of the checks can be made without specialist access or safety equipment. Only use ladders if you feel confident to do so, always ask someone to foot the base of the ladder and don’t overreach.
If you are concerned about any serious defects consult a competent conservation builder, a conservation engineer or a conservation surveyor. Turn to the LPOC Suppliers Directory for help with sourcing the right specialist tradesman or professional. Don’t forget the Club is also on hand to support our members with our in-house Conservation Advisor, VAT, Legal, Mortgage & Financial advisors, and of course our specialist insurance team.