The Labours of Love

This valentines day, don’t forget your other significant other.

So…  how would you describe your relationship with your home ?


Love your home


A Casual Fling

Your life is too full to sweat the small stuff. You live in the moment and deal with things as they happen. You have other priorities and are not ready to commit to a long term relationship.


Chaos caused when you need unexpected repairs
The Casual Fling (or The Ad-Hoc Maintenance Strategy)


Maybe you’re still looking for your perfect property and are planning to trade up. The average period between property moves in Scotland is only 7 years! Will you take a chance that the next owner of the property will not notice potential issues. From month to month your maintenance spend is small, but when things go wrong the bills the consequences may be dire.

You have an Ad-hoc Maintenance Strategy (see below).

Long term cost; spin the wheel - if you’re lucky… $   if you’re not… $$$$$$$$$$$$$.. (financial and emotional)


The Power Couple

No time wasters here, your fully committed.


The power couple always in control
The Power Couple (or The Planned Maintenance Strategy).


You’re no nonsense approach means you deal with things early. You are risk averse so replace items even when they could last a bit longer, but your investing for the long term. You make sure you never have to deal with chaos and stress because with this approach nothing is left to chance.

You have a Planned Maintenance Strategy (see below).

Long Term Cost $$$$


Deep and Meaningful

Your cautious, you take time to review your property regularly. You leave no stone unturned and take the time to discover everything about your property tick.


Getting into the details of your relationship with Condition Based Maintenance
A Deep and Meaningful relationship (or the Condition Based Maintenance Strategy).


You work with a professional and plan to get the maximum life out every component reducing your costs. You work with someone who can assess all aspects of your property, woodwork, stone, roof, electrics, drainage, etc. and give an overview of the whole property.

You have a Condition Based Maintenance Strategy (see below).

Long Term Cost $$$


Best Friends Forever

Like the deep and meaningful relationship, you love your property and want to look after it. But life is not always a bed of roses, when money is tight you need to get your priorities right so that you can weather the difficult times together.


Weathering the storm with a risk based maintenance strategy
Best Friends Forever (or The Risk Based Maintenance Strategy)


You review your property regularly with a professional,  You can’t do everything, but you do what you can. The necessary work is done and you accept some risk on items that won’t have serious consequences and any repairs or inconvenience will be small.

You budget wisely and employ a professional for periodic inspections, to assess the risks and prepare a schedule of work to match the budget available. A risk based strategy requires the greatest amount of expertise and experience to ensure that risks are properly assessed and the right balance is struck.

You have a Risk Based Maintenance Strategy (see below).

Long Term Cost $$


So how did you do…?  Be honest now.


I doubt any activity has a more significant image problem than that of maintenance. It’s so often the Cinderella of architecture, rarely given much thought until something goes wrong and then it becomes a major inconvenience and cost headache. 

If you invest a little time in your property, you will reap the benefits in the long term.


Ad-hoc Maintenance

Not having a strategy for maintenance is the simplest and unfortunately, the most common approach for property owners. It is also combined with Run-to-Failure strategy, at first glance this appears like the easy, low effort, low cost approach. The absence of a strategy eliminates the need to plan-ahead for maintenance. But no strategy does not mean no maintenance, it means that maintenance is unplanned.

Unplanned maintenance will happen when someone decides to do it, such as oiling a door, painting the windows, etc. There may also be some informal inspection or monitoring taking place. For example, a bathroom sink may be subject to condition monitoring every time it is used. The user may notice a decrease in flow rate and initiate repairs for the sink.   

A Run-to-Failure strategy is reactive, it is a response to a trigger event, such as when something breaks down. It might be suitable for non-critical items such as light bulbs or taps but it is not appropriate for something important for keeping the water out and when it fails you may not notice until a great deal of damage had already been done.

If you rent or lease your property, you need to bear in mind that tenants are less likely to notice or act in relation to maintenance issues.


Problems associated with ad-hoc maintenance

Because this maintenance type is both unplanned and unscheduled this method of organising maintenance activities is highly inefficient. Other activities that you had planned will be interrupted. Time will be needed to investigate and determine the problem, develop a suitable proposal for the repair and arranging for contractors to carry out the work. This type of maintenance can also be expensive, when you need contractors or specialists at short notice, you may end up paying a premium.

In addition, because it is likely that other parts of the property will be negatively impacted by the repair work, the costs of disruption and possibly alternative accommodation need to be considered. Will you be able to continue living or working in the property while the repair is carried out.

If no maintenance planning is put in place, then this style of maintenance becomes the default.


Cost Comparison of Maintenance Strategies
Cost Comparison of Maintenance Strategies


Planned Maintenance

The term Planned Maintenance is often used interchangeably with Preventative Maintenance.

In this instance, work is carried out on a regular defined schedule. Building elements are repaired or replaced within their expected lifespan to ensure there is no risk of an unexpected failure which would give rise to a much more significant and costly repair.

Planned Maintenance should to be documented. It is important to plan ahead, to know what work will take place and when. Afterwards, it is important to keep a record of what work has been done and when it was carried out. Proper records are a valuable resource for future reference and improving the cost effectiveness of maintenance in the long term.

Advantages of planned maintenance

  • You know what to expect

Planning maintenance in advance gives you a chance to properly allocate resources to the job, so that you have the time, personnel, and tools you need from the get-go.

  • Manage your calendar

Planning maintenance in advance lets you look ahead in your calendar and see what’s coming up, rather than always being in a position of reacting to breakdowns

  • Get work done faster

When maintenance is planned, it gives the team a chance to get everything they need in advance and organise the work area to minimise disruption.

While planned maintenance has many advantages over ad-hoc maintenance, it still may not be the most cost-efficient. Planned maintenance arranges for work to be carried out in accordance with a schedule, whether it is required or not. It will be effective in preventing most unplanned and costly failures, but it could result in over-maintenance and some work that is carried out may not be necessary or could even reduce the service life of components or finishes.


Graph showing maintenance cost analysis
How long will your component last without maintenance ?


Condition Based Maintenance

Condition-based maintenance is a maintenance strategy that monitors the actual condition of the asset to decide what maintenance needs to be done. A condition-based strategy dictates that maintenance should only be performed when certain indicators show signs of decreasing performance or upcoming failure.

Inspecting the building fabric for these indicators may include non-invasive measurements, visual inspection, performance data and scheduled tests.

Condition data can be gathered at regular intervals. Organisations with large property portfolios like Historic Scotland, the National Trust for Scotland, the church, etc. use a system of inspections for their buildings based on a five year cycle, called a Quinquennial Report.

At first glance, it may appear that engaging a conservation professional to carry out a periodic inspection of the property and prepare a report, before any maintenance work is carried out, would be more costly and time consuming. However, unlike planned maintenance where work is carried out at predefined intervals regardless of need, condition-based maintenance is performed only after a decrease in the condition of the building fabric or finishes has been observed.

This can reduce the amount maintenance works, potentially extending the service life of components and reduce costs in the longer term.


erosion of sandstone in highland traditional building
Erosion of sandstone


Risk Based Maintenance

Risk-based maintenance prioritises maintenance resources toward elements that carry the most risk if they were to fail. It is a methodology for determining the most economical use of maintenance resources.

Risk management is not the same as risk free, but when cost is an issue and you are unable to do everything, it will help to focus attention on the critical areas, optimising expenditure to minimise any risk of a failure or at least mitigate its impact.

A risk-based maintenance strategy is based on two main phases:

  • Risk assessment
  • Maintenance planning based on the risk

The maintenance type and frequency are prioritized based on the risk of failure. Assets that have a greater risk and consequence of failure are maintained and monitored more frequently. Assets that carry a lower risk are subjected to less stringent maintenance programs.

There are a range of risk types that need to be considered when carrying out an assessment.

Top priority would be the Health and Safety of people. Landlords that lease or rent properties will be familiar with the requirements to test electrical and gas services. Less familiar is perhaps the risk of components falling from the building. There have unfortunately, been incidents of stone components or roofing materials falling from buildings and killing members of the public.

Other risks that may be relevant could be the cost to a business if they were unable to use their property for any length to time. For an office based business, there is the cost of alternative accommodation but can the IT infrastructure be moved easily? For a manufacturing based business, are there alternative facilities available? The costs of lost production may far outweigh the cost of any fabric repairs.

Another potential risk that ought to stay top of your agenda concerns the buying and selling for your property. Do want the best price and a quick sale? If you are buying you need to know what your potential additional expenditure on maintenance repairs will be. If you are selling, will outstanding repairs and maintenance affect the asking price and will it take longer to sell? 

Risk -based maintenance, is a hybrid-mix of ad-hoc and condition-based maintenance. The monitoring and maintenance programs for high risk areas are typically condition-based maintenance programs. Those areas where the impact of a failure is negligible, maybe treated to a more ad-hoc maintenance regime.

Implementing a risk-based maintenance process means that the total risk of failure is minimised across the building fabric in the most economical way. However, bear in mind that a risk based strategy requires the greatest amount of expertise and experience to ensure that risks are properly assessed and the right balance is struck.


And Finally, Best laid plans and all that…

Even when a planned maintenance strategy is adopted, it is inevitable that, at some stage, an unexpected failure will occur. This could arise from any number of causes for example, winter storm damage, human stupidity, etc. When this happens unplanned repairs will be required and these will incur all of the additional costs highlighted above.


MAAC Studio has the ideal solution for anyone  looking to assess their maintenance needs. Our Traditional Building Health Check, has been specially developed to provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision about your maintenance needs.

Make sure your property investment doesn't become a liability. MAAC studio are accredited conservation architects and principal designers working with traditional buildings throughout Scotland. We can help you put together a maintenance strategy the suits your needs.

If you need independent advice give us a call ?