Sam Elkington: Property maintenance – an absolute must

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It is this time of year when one starts to realise the benefits of good property maintenance. A well-maintained building will usually stand the rigours of the winter and the adverse weather conditions.

In particular, it is essential to make sure that buildings are wind and water tight to ensure that the elements do not get the better of it.

Blocked guttering is the largest single cause of damage to buildings along with blocked downpipes.

If you take time to look up at the guttering on a lot of buildings around the city centre and on industrial estates you will see that the guttering has grass and bushes growing out of them which are causing blockages.

The water overflows from the guttering and stains the brickwork. Also, it freezes with frost and causes expansion, which in turn leads to cracking of the guttering or twisting and distortion through the weight of the rubbish in the guttering.

When these small items of disrepair start to accumulate they lead to significant staining of the outer fabric of the building and also water penetration on the inside.

One only has to think of all the rubbish that gets washed off roofs into the guttering from the footprint of the building to realise that a significant amount of waste goes along these channels.

From a property maintenance and management prospective where buildings are particularly vulnerable to these situations, then regular cleaning of guttering is required and unblocking of downpipes.

Similarly, netting areas where birds can perch or put up deterrents for them helps reduce the issues.

Once the frost starts to get into damp brickwork it causes shaling of the bricks and then the main fabric of the building can start to deteriorate.

Clearly these situations have a detrimental effect on the long-term value of buildings and also their attractiveness to both owners and purchasers.

If it is a retail area or an area generally open to the public, then again it becomes less attractive and an area can start to fall into decline.

The old saying “For the sake of a shoe a horse was lost; for the sake of horse a battle was lost; for the sake of a battle a war was lost” has never been more relevant when looking at the consequences of what a small maintenance job not being carried out could lead to on any size of building.

As property professionals, we try to ensure that client’s managed property stock is maintained properly and gutter and watercourse maintenance is one of the principal items that we look for.