By adopting a planned approach to maintenance an occupier can help to avoid the need for unplanned emergency repairs. This will also help to maintain the value of a building and in some cases even help to add value. The value of a building can be significantly affected by its condition; in fact there are many examples of properties of similar size and type, in very close proximity that can vary by many thousands of pounds as a result of the difference in their conditions. If regular un-costly maintenance can add significant value to a property, then you would have to ask why so many people fail to do it!
Clear rainwater gutters - Blocked gutters will allow rainwater, sometimes in high volumes, to discharge onto external surfaces. Over a period of time this can result in problems such as penetrating damp, condensation and timber decay to occur. Large volumes of water discharging into the ground can also affect the ground bearing capacity of certain types of ground under foundations, sometimes resulting in very serious problems such as ground movement such as settlement or subsidence. Therefore regularly checking that gutters are clear can prevent some very significant defects occurring in the future.
Cut back trees, shrubs and vegetation - Trees, shrubs and vegetation provide a much softer appearance than buildings and structures and are an important feature for many when considering purchasing or occupying a building. Whereas they have many positive qualities, if not maintained they can prove to be extremely detrimental to a building. Trees and particularly tree roots can undermine foundations and damage drains and are often found to be the cause or significant contributing factor to ground movement. Therefore, trees need to be monitored and maintained when they are located within a distance that could affect a building. If trees become an issue, specialist advice is likely to be necessary from an Arboriculturist in order to provide accurate remedial measures to address the problem.
Vegetation in close proximity to a building will retain a large amount of moisture. Ivy is a common example of vegetation that grows rapidly and can cover large areas of external masonry walls. Whilst this may provide a certain amount of ‘charm’ for many, in prolonged wet conditions, the ivy will retain a large amount of water, which will be in contact with external walls. This will result in colder surface temperature for the wall, which in turn can increase the risk of condensation internally. Add to this the fact that ivy provides a habitat for all sorts of insects which can use it as a route into window frames, air bricks and other weaknesses in the building at high level and suddenly it starts to lose a little bit of its charm. This is issue is not exclusive to ivy, in fact any vegetation that is allowed to grow in close proximity to a building has the potential to cause the same issues, and should therefore by regularly maintained and controlled.
Wash down UPVC - Over the last thirty years UPVC has become increasingly popular as a material used for external building components, particularly for guttering and downpipes and window frames. UPVC external cladding, soffits and fascia boards are also now commonly used in place of timber due to the perceived reduction in maintenance and improved life expectancy. To a point this is correct, however it is a complete misconception that once UPVC is installed that it can be left forever and does not need any maintenance. Have you ever notice that when first installed that UPVC has a ‘shiny gloss’ finish. However over a period of time being exposed to external elements, the surface will dull down. This can be due to photo-oxidation which causes bleaching (staining) and loss of pigmentation of the UPVC. Once this occurs the UPVC will pick up dirt, dust and other particles and become discoloured. Simply washing down UPVC surfaces every six months with warm soapy water will significantly reduce the risk of this occurring.
Next week, In part 2 I will discuss some further routine maintenance tasks that can be undertaken in a building (both externally and internally) in order to increase the serviceable life of various components and to prevent more serious, often costly problems occurring in the future.
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