Importance of maintenance
These guidelines will help to establish a routine maintenance program for ‘the continuous protective care of the fabric, contents and setting of a heritage place’ as defined by the Burra Charter.
Establish a routine maintenance program
Carry out regular building inspections
Collect information for heritage professionals and tradespeople carrying out work as well as for prospective buyers. Put in place maintenance and housekeeping practices that can be tailored to fit the building's special needs. Plan and budget for future work. Fix problems promptly so expensive major repairs can be avoided.
Use expertise in conservation work
Consult an engineer, specialising in assessing old structures, to examine the building for signs of structural failure. Obtain a report by a conservation specialist on the condition of the heritage place, including a dilapidation schedule (or schedule of necessary repairs) where defects and their causes and remedies are identified.
Evaluate future work
Before starting, check the impacts of future work on the heritage place, its occupants, environment and workers involved, such as the effects of removing lead paint.
Check for termites
Termites are white ants that tunnel long distances for timber, their main food source. Undertake regular inspections to detect termite activities so action can be taken before major damage occurs. Install ant caps (metal shields on top of building stumps) to delay and prevent termites entering the building frame.
Develop a maintenance manual
A maintenance manual is an essential part of a regular maintenance program and should comprise a log book and housekeeping plan as part of the day-to-day care and management of a heritage place. Make a maintenance manual part of the conservation plan for a heritage place as it will provide for its ongoing care.
The logbook and housekeeping plan comprise Word documents in a standard format which can be customised to suit the needs of a particular heritage place, depending on its size and complexity.
Another helpful tool to include in a maintenance manual is a glossary of common building terms to assist owners carrying out maintenance work.
Create and maintain a logbook
A logbook provides a tool for recording past and future work requirements, particularly for those occupants and managers of heritage places owned by organisations. It helps identify potential problem areas and how often essential maintenance should be undertaken, and assists in planning future work and budgets.
What a logbook should include
- contact details of any person(s) in charge of heritage place
- main contractors
- essential service contacts – fire, gas, water
- sketch indicating location of services, shut-off valves, main electrical switches.
- date of heritage listing
- what listing comprises
- registration number if applicable.
Records of heritage place's physical condition
- dilapidation schedule(s).
Records and costs of maintenance and other building work
- bills for quantities of materials ordered (useful for reordering material).
- fire extinguishers/panel tests/wiring safety checks and special safety provisions for the heritage place
- termite inspections, systems and products used.
- special/original materials/samples of original finishes such as matching stone, paving, castings and hardware (stored for future use/reference)
- suppliers/trade literature/products for reordering and manufacturer recommendations for cleaning special finishes such as floor surfaces
- guarantees, together with data and manuals of manufacturers showing how to install and use equipment or services, such as air conditioning and refrigeration plants
- consultants employed for construction or conservation work on heritage place, including quantity surveyors
- tradespeople with comprehensive information on each contractor that has worked on site.
Information to supplement a maintenance manual
Brief history of the building
- dates of extensions and additions to original structure.
Conservation plan for building and other reports
- studies for conservation work
- schedule of conditions
- historic research
- documents containing information to help plan maintenance program.
Documents, archival and visual material on building and/or its history
- written/oral histories
- old photographs
- architectural records, (original and current drawings) which will assist with lodging applications
- investigative reports of paint and materials, including colour schemes and mortar mixes used
- legal records, such as easements, rights-of-way and restrictive covenants (keep copies of special agreements)
- planning and building regulation requirements
- potentially available funding sources for the heritage place.
More information on conservation
- view other Council fact sheets:
For more information contact Council's Heritage Unit.