The Dutch Monumentenwacht was founded in 1973. The organisation’s key objective is to prevent the decay of the cultural fabric through the implementation of preventive measures. Every year, more than 24,000 listed buildings in the Netherlands are inspected by professionals of the Monumentenwacht. For each inspection a detailed report is issued on the basis of which future maintenance of the historic building by the owner can be facilitated. During these inspections, small-scale repair work might also be carried out by inspectors.
Monumentenwacht has since developed into the largest organisation of its kind in the Netherlands. A great deal of international interest has been shown in the concept over the last years. In June 2004 Monumentenwacht received the European Union/European Nostra Award for cultural heritage.
Lessons to be learnt from the Bath experience
Between June 2002 and October 2003, Maintain our Heritage piloted a preventive maintenance and inspection service for listed buildings in Bath, Somerset, funded by charities and English Heritage. This was inspired by the 'Monumentenwacht' in the Netherlands. The intention was to establish whether a similar service could work in the UK.
Craftsmen and building surveyors visited a total of 72 buildings and gave close attention to all aspects of their external envelope. Gutter-clearing and minor, urgent repairs were carried out on the spot, when feasible. The inspectors wrote a detailed report with photographs which was then reviewed by a chartered surveyor and later explained in person to the owner.
The lessons from this scheme are that (a) there are no insuperable technical issues in providing such a system, although access was a constant problem; (b) routine inspection and maintenance can realise major savings in fabric and cost; but (c) few owners of listed buildings are willing to pay the economic cost of such visits; and (d) concerns about professional qualifications and indemnity insurance were overcome but might not be again now.
Maintain's subsequent research programme, 'Maintaining Value' (2002-2004) fully explored these issues at a national level and set out an agenda for action. This, as well as an assessment of the Bath scheme, is available on the organisation's web site at www.maintainourheritage.co.uk
The Bath scheme nevertheless discovered a level of demand for preventive maintenance among churches in the nearby Diocese of Gloucester, and this led directly to the creation of Maintain's significantly more basic 'GutterClear' scheme, which has now been running successfully (and now without subsidy) since 2007. This concentrates on inspecting, clearing and testing all above-ground rainwater goods and the reporting of obvious defects. Digital before and after photos are taken and a checklist-style report supplied to the parish and its architect.
Maintain is now developing this model with a view to extending it to other dioceses, and perhaps other building types such as museums and galleries which should in principle be aware of the importance of preventive maintenance. Rolling this out to historic buildings in general clearly awaits changes in leadership, culture and taxation of which there are no signs from government or grant-giving bodies.
The purpose of creating the English Housing Survey
The EHS is the world’s first and longest running survey of housing conditions. The first surveys of 1967 and 1971 were designed to identify the potential for demolition, repair and improvement in England’s older, privately owned housing stock. Out of these surveys grew Government policies and programmes towards the Slum Clearance, General Improvement Areas and Housing Action Areas of the 1970’s. The surveys of the 1980’s informed the development of Neighbourhood Renewal and Estates Action initiatives, while those of the 1990’s informed the Housing Health and Safety Rating System and the Decent Homes standard. The survey was undertaken every 5 years between 1971 and 2001 but has since this time been continuous, now providing annual National Statistics on the housing stock and the people who live in it.
The presentation will discuss some of the latest findings from the survey, show how housing conditions have changed over time, and highlight the substantial amount of work that needs to be undertaken to improve our older housing if we are to make it sustainable for the future.
The Scottish House Condition Survey and Maintenance Needs
The Scottish House Condition Survey (SHCS) collects detailed information on the state of repair of most aspects of surveyed buildings. This includes the extent of disrepair and urgency for elements critical to the building’s continued weather-proofing. Failure of these elements can lead to continued degradation of the building fabric and lead to escalating costs for householders.
The Housing Quality Analysis Team at the Scottish Government, working with Historic Scotland, set out to condense detailed information from disrepair into a meaningful metric and index identifying danger and extent of critical element disrepair. In this presentation we set out the formation of the metric, the building elements examined and patterns uncovered in the Scottish housing stock.
EU-CHIC results of the FP7 project: European Union - Cultural Heritage Identity Card?
The Coordinated Action »EU Cultural Heritage Identity Card« (EU-CHIC) proposes a strategy and most efficient methods and tools for harmonisation of criteria and indicators to be addressed for tracking environmental changes and human interventions on the tangible cultural heritage buildings and assets across European and neighbouring countries. Main objective of the EU-CHIC is to develop and test guidelines, needed for efficient compilation and storage of data, pertinent to each monument under observation. The system of EU-CHIC supports sustainable maintenance, preventive conservation and rehabilitation of historic sites and monuments.
Main tasks of the action are to:
The consortium consists of 12 partners from 11 countries, which are: Slovenia, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Poland, and Spain. It coordinates activities at national and international level.
A significant aim of the EU-CHIC action is to stimulate and/or assist the creation of new initiatives for regular monitoring and inspections of historic buildings and monuments, which could be in a way similar to those implemented by the organisation “Monumentenwacht” in the Netherlands and in the Flanders Region of Belgium. Initiatives are to be set up in countries and regions of the project beneficiaries, with guidance and support of the project Advisory Network and Advisory Committee.
Click here for our news updates