Purpose: It is well understood that maintenance is critical to the survival and in-service use of any building. Despite recognition that the best way of protecting and maintaining historic buildings is to undertake a combination of proactive and reactive maintenance, it is rarely adopted or implemented, and when it is undertaken it often results in varying degrees of success. Maintenance theory currently exists, but fails to be realised in practical application and implementation. It is the purpose of this paper to ask why this failure is occurring. Design/methodology/approach: The paper is composed of a critical review of existing literature, highlighting some of the major issues affecting maintenance implementation. It also reports the early stages of proposed research ongoing at Heriot-Watt University. Findings: Despite recognition in the literature of the need to maintain historic buildings, this review suggests that the ways in which maintenance is organised and financed often mitigates against its implementation. In addition, advice to owners of historic buildings could be improved and there is a shortage of skilled operatives. Originality/value: Unless this situation is improved, much of our culturally significant buildings will be lost to future generations. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
- Building conservation