SPAB’S National Maintenance Week 2010

Friday 19th November – Friday 26th November 2010/ National Gutters Day Friday November 26th

“Get the basics right first – then you can have fun!”

Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen is readily associated with interior design, bringing his knowledge of historic detail and styling to millions through TV, radio, books and articles, but he is also a passionate advocate of the importance of good maintenance. This year he is supporting SPAB’s (The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings) annual National Maintenance Week  Campaign (November 19 – November 26), because he knows that, when it comes to property, getting the basics right really counts.

Laurence says: "Maintenance is too often the Cinderella of the property world. Yet together with good design, it is the most important factor affecting the quality of where we live. Many people place maintenance way down their list of property essentials, preferring to spend money on more immediately glamorous items.

"But there's no point in buying a costly, luxurious carpet or rug for your bedroom, if two months later a leak caused by faulty roof tiles means you have to replace it. There is nothing stylish about damp! Preventive care is the best form of maintenance - it's the least intrusive and, in the end, it's the least expensive. Get the basics right – and then you can have fun!”

Laurence’s ten top tips on winter property maintenance can be found at the end of this release and at SPAB’s dedicated website:                                                            

Now in its eighth year, National Maintenance Week (Nov 19 – 26) aims to provide homeowners  throughout the UK, with practical tips and advice on how to prepare their building to face the worst that winter can bring.

As Laurence explains: “The great irony is that if most of us spent a little time and money on some simple maintenance, in the long run we'd probably have more to spend on the, admittedly, exciting, creative and imaginative aspects of home ownership.”

The annual campaign is designed to promote awareness of the straightforward, economic and achievable maintenance steps that can be taken in autumn to stave off costly major faults and damage at a later date.

SPAB is Britain’s oldest conservation body fighting to save old buildings from decay and dereliction, but the message of National Maintenance Week is relevant to everyone who owns or cares for a property of any sort - whether it’s 500-years-old or brand new.  

Water damage is a particular concern – especially as winter rains approach. The annual cleaning of gutters and drains (at roof and ground level) can be much cheaper and less inconvenient than having to cope with a serious outbreak of dry rot in timber roof trusses and floorboards following years of neglect.  

National Gutters Day (this year, Friday November 26th) is a light-hearted, but practical reminder to everyone that even if they do nothing else this autumn, spending 10 minutes outside on a rainy day checking the performance of their gutters and drains can really make a difference. It’s not difficult - just a few minutes spent clearing weeds and debris, or just a few pounds spent to mend a leaky gutter can save many hundreds, and possibly thousands of pounds!                       

SPAB’s dedicated website is packed with helpful tips to get you started.   Ends                                                                                      

For more information/ images  please contact Kate Griffin, SPAB press office, 0207456 0905 / email:                                                                                                         

Notes to editors

Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen’s 10 top tips for simple maintenance:
He says: “Get the basics right  – and then you can have fun!”

    Look for blocked downpipes (best done during heavy rain to see water coming from any leaky joints – in dry weather look for stained brickwork)
    Check ground level gullies and drains to make sure they are clear of debris like leaves, twigs and even things like balls and toys - and have them cleaned out if necessary
    Every autumn, clear any plants, leaves and silt from gutters, hopperheads, flat roofs and drainage channels. It’s a good idea to do this in spring too to deal with anything that might have found its way into the wrong place
    Remove potentially damaging vegetation from behind downpipes by cutting back or removing the plant altogether
    Use a hand mirror to look behind rainwater pipes as splits and cracks in old cast iron and aluminium often occur here and are not easily noticed
    Fit bird/leaf guards to the tops of soil pipes and rainwater outlets to prevent blockages
    Have gutters refixed if they are sloping the wrong way or discharging water onto the wall
    If sections are beyond repair, make sure that replacements are made of the same material as the originals (on older houses, this is sometimes lead, but more usually cast iron)
    Regular painting of cast iron is essential to prevent rust – and keeps your property looking good!
    Don’t – undertake routine maintenance work at high level unless you are accompanied and have suitable equipment.  If in doubt always seek help from a professional
And here’s a very important extra tip - remember to take care at all times, wear protective gloves when necessary and never work at heights or use ladders if you are alone.

Details of SPAB’s National Maintenance Week, including further advice, top tips and useful dos and don’ts can be found at

The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) was founded by William Morris 125 years ago to care for and preserve the UK’s architectural heritage.  Since its foundation, SPAB has been committed to maintenance matters, in line with William Morris’ exhortation to: “Stave off decay by daily care.”  Today it is a dynamic organisation, and a charitable company limited by guarantee - no. 111 3753  (SC 039244), taking building conservation into the future.  To find out more visit  /