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Building Control Advice - Maintenance of a building for the future

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Regular Maintenance

The building and its equipment should be regularly maintained. In the case of new buildings or extensions carry out specific maintenance work as instructed in writing by the builder.

Particular attention should be paid to the following: -

  • Redecorate exterior parts of the dwelling at least every four years (or even sooner in exposed locations);
  • Replace any defective mastic joints around door and window frames;
  • Include a rust inhibitor after draining down any wet heating system;
  • Inspect and carry out maintenance to heating systems in accordance with the manufacturers/installers instructions;
  • Lubricate external locks and latches

Surface Condensation

Condensation is a frequent complaint, particularly during the initial period of occupation.

Condensation occurs when water vapour in the air condenses on cool surfaces such as windows.

If left uncontrolled, condensation can cause unsightly mould growth to appear on surfaces.

In extreme cases it can affect health and promote the decay of timber based materials.

Traditional construction materials, which contain large amounts of water, dry out during the initial period of occupation. This contributes to excessive water vapour in the building. Additionally, today's domestic lifestyles produce greater amounts of water vapour, particularly in kitchens and bathrooms.

The use of high performance windows and doors, which are relatively airtight, prevent the escape of air from the dwelling and so contribute to the increasing occurrence of condensation.

The occupier can substantially reduce condensation by implementing the following advice:

  • Gradually warm up the dwelling when you move into the extension
  • Maintain a constant, but not excessively high, temperature
  • Open windows and doors on mild days

Efficiency of the Heating Installation

You may encounter problems with the efficiency of the new or extended system, e.g. excessively hot, or cold radiators.

The heating system may need re-balancing, or have air locks removed. If you experience problems, inform your builder.

Gutters and Down pipes

Leaking gutters and down pipes can cause unsightly staining and dampness in walls.

During the early winter, remove all dead leaves, branches, birds, nests etc. from the gutters and down pipes.

Roof Spaces

Roof spaces are not generally designed to support heavy storage or for conversion into a playroom etc., please seek expert advice if you contemplate doing this.

Trussed rafters are commonly used in modern buildings. Additional strengthening or bracing members are fixed across ceiling ties and to the underside of the rafter members.

On no account should these be removed (e.g. to install boarding to support items stored in the loft).

Leaking flue pipes can cause illness or death.

Flue pipes in the roof space are airtight and securely fixed.

However, accidental damage can occur, particularly if the roof space is used for storage.

Do not store objects near flue pipes and do not use the pipe, or its supports, as a handhold when you are in the roof space.

Working on Flat Roofs

Flat roofs coverings can be easily be damaged. Always place a plank, or rigid board, under ladders or steps if you are working on a flat roof.


Alterations should not be carried out without expert advice, e.g. forming openings in internal walls.

Even walls which do not appear to be load bearing may act as bracing to adjacent walls.


Always investigate, and quickly remedy, the cause of leaks and running overflow pipes before they cause major damage to the dwelling.

Pipes and Cables

It is essential that no pipes or cables are built in the structure at locations where you wish to hang pictures, fix a carpet, etc.

Generally, vertical electrical cables are located above or below a switch/socket outlet and horizontal cable runs are located within a zone 150mm below a ceiling.

Pipes in floors are normally not located within 200mm of a wall (expect for spurs to radiators) and generally pass through door openings approximately at the centre of the opening.

Particular attention is required when fixing to plasterboard partitions, and dry linings, as pipe runs can be located anywhere within the void. In the case of stud partitions, fix to vertical studs for convenience and maximum strength.

For dry linings, drill a pilot hole through the thickness of the boarding first. Verify that no pipe clashes with the bradawl, and then continue drilling into the masonry wall behind. It is advisable to use a simple metal detector when fixing to a wall, or ceiling. They are available from good DIY shops.

Clearing Blocked Drains

Drains are designed to be self-cleaning and normally require little maintenance. However, should a drain blockage occurs, ensure that the correct type of rodding tool is used, e.g. do not use the rigid cane rods to unblock plastic drains.