Maintenance and appropriate care are the basis for any preventive conservation.
A properly maintained church building will survive for future generations to enjoy. Good maintenance also saves money by minimising the need for major repairs. William Morris's motto - "stave off decay by daily care" - still holds true today.
The best means of preserving our church heritage is to look after it in an appropriate way.
This section highlights common problems and areas that need special attention as well as giving advice, guidance and tips for regular maintenance schemes.
Maintenance scheme models
Below is is a summary of the four models avaialbe for supporting a church with its maintenance. They are not all relevant to every diocese. If you are a parish looking for support with maintenance please contact your DAC Secretary to find what is available locally.
National Churches Trust (NCT)
Maintenance Booker Maintenance Booker uses an online tool for a parish to book services (currently gutters, lightning protection, tree inspection and tree surgery). A request for the service will go to the pre-approved contractors who will then bid for the work. The parish will choose who to go with. The work will include producing a report with photos, and this will be uploaded to the system and also to the Church Heritage Recrod. The website will be accessed at http://www.maintenancebooker.org.uk/
For the present time the NCT can offer a grant towards the cost of the maintenance services - although the grant offer and the procurement models are not dependent on each other. There will be a limited number of micro grants offering a 50% reduction in the cost of gutter clearance services in Yorkshire, with the potential to extend these grants to other areas that take up Maintenance booker services in 2017. In addition, the NCT is offering grants of £500-3,000 for small repair and maintenance projects, independent of the Maintenance booker service. Information about grants for maintenance is available at https://www.nationalchurchestrust.org/our-grants/maintenance-grants
The scheme is capable of being adapted to work anywhere in the UK, the main cost element being to run the procurement process. An HLF grant is supporting the set-up costs. There will be auditing and quality checks against key performance indicators and the parish will have an opportunity to comment on the work that is done.
The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) Maintenance cooperatives
Maintenance cooperatives train volunteers to undertake basic routine maintenance to a church or, ideally, a group of church buildings. The model is based on providing the training and a maintenance guide and kit to support the volunteers.
The project supports church volunteers in their roles, including sourcing additional voluntary help, giving people an opportunity to volunteer who are not otherwise engaged in church life. It is intended to help church volunteers, not to add further burdens. The project includes an online maintenance tool to support volunteers, remind of jobs to be done and record progress.
Where applicable it is intended to tie in with the recommendations of the QI report, and the training includes understanding the report
Turnkey Church Maintenance Partnership Diocese of Gloucester
This scheme is being developed to support churches where the burden of organising a range of maintenance tasks is too great. The partnership will provide for routine maintenance tasks to be done for the PCC in a service level agreement with Turnkey, and for which the church or any other body, such as a friends group will make an annual payment.
Its first target is planned to be lesser used churches, to help those church buildings where there is no other community building. Nonetheless, it is hoped that eventually the offer will be available to any PCC. Interested churches would opt into a core range of regular maintenance tasks and periodic inspections provided through Turnkey, but there will also be an opportunity to agree other optional works and services for an additional fee.
Churches Conservation Trust Framework maintenance contracts
The Trust has almost fifty years’ experience in caring for historic churches and working with volunteers. Over the years it has developed a maintenance scheme for its diverse collection of buildings across England. The scheme, based on a series of framework contracts, is intended to be efficient, transparent and offering a good balance between quality and price. Through the scheme the Trust also offers advice and training to local volunteers on how to care for an historic building, what to look out for and what it is safe for volunteers to do.
The Trust has a model and the infrastructure in place to provide maintenance to more churches than those in its estate. It could support a diocese by opening its contracts up to more churches to provide routine and preventative maintenance. The Trust would act as intermediary between the contractor and the volunteers, providing volunteer support and training. The frameworks also include 24/7 callout for emergencies. The management is provided by the Trust.