Prevention is better than cure; the maintenance and upkeep of ageing buildings


Buildings don’t collapse overnight, it takes time for a building to deteriorate, which means there is time to prevent the deterioration from happening. However, it can be draining on internal resources and finances to constantly have to ensure that buildings are safe and fit for use, especially during the winter months. During a time of year when environmental factors can cause significant additional problems, effective maintenance can proactively minimise additional damage and get you from being in reactive “firefighting” mode and into a proactive mindset.

For larger maintenance issues we suggest a longer-term plan which will allow the school to keep operations running smoothly without causing a delay in carrying out essential maintenance.

How do you build a maintenance plan?

We would recommend reading our full guidance note on maintaining your buildings, but, in summary, you should be considering the following points when assessing each building individually;

  • What condition is it in?
  • Does the building have a lifespan?
  • How is the building being used? Is it fit for purpose?
  • Could it have a better use?
  • When was the roof last inspected?
  • When were the gutters last inspected?
  • Are there any signs of cracking or subsidence?
  • When were the fixed electrics last checked?
  • How old is the wiring?
  • If there are commercial kitchens, when was the extractor and ductwork last cleaned?
  • Do you have a record of local trades people’s contact details should you need them in an emergency?
  • Is there a budget available for maintenance and repairs?

It is important to remember that an insurance policy is not a maintenance contract and will only cover repairs resulting from damage following specified events, such as fire, storm or flood. It is a general condition of insurance that all reasonable steps must be taken to prevent loss or damage to the property insured and to maintain the property in a good condition and in a good state of repair. If a building is poorly maintained and subsequently becomes damaged following an insured loss, the property owner could be required to contribute towards the cost of carrying out repairs.

In addition, it is advisable that you should check your insurance policy for any policy conditions that you need to adhere to. You should be able to find these in your policy schedule and associated policy wording but some examples could include:

  • Inspections of roofs and guttering
  • Cleaning in kitchens
  • Electrical testing

Where you have any unoccupied buildings, be sure to notify your insurance broker as soon as possible as further conditions may apply as well as reduced coverage while unoccupied.

Relatively simple jobs, undertaken on a regular basis, can have a significant impact in keeping a building in good order over the long term. The most important aspect of maintenance is the protection of a building from water and damp penetration. If buildings are left unmanaged, damage can worsen until urgent repairs become necessary which can far exceed the original costings of maintenance.

Guidance note

For additional advice, please download our full guidance note here.  This includes guidance on:

  • How to build a maintenance plan
  • Historic buildings
  • Routine maintenance
  • Heating and electricals
  • Chimneys and flues
  • Tips for preventing water leaks
  • What to do if you find a water leak
  • Burst pipes/prevention and what to do if you discover a frozen pipe

Author bio

This article and document was written by Account Executive Rachael Romasanta

Rachael began her career in insurance in 2007 working as an insurance broker until 2019 when she then spent two years as the Risk Management Sales Consultant for the NFU Mutual covering the Southwest of England.  During this time, Rachael completed her NEBOSH qualification and focused heavily on buildings and liability risks including Grade listed and historical estates.

Rachael joined Hayes Parsons Insurance Brokers in 2022 and is our specialist education and charity Account Executive.  Rachael can be contacted via phone, email or LinkedIn:

0117 930 1657 | 07841 430 237

[email protected]

Rachael Romasanta Cert CII NEBOSH | LinkedIn