Conservation Roofing - Lapford Chancel Roof after Maintenance

Church Maintenance

Conservation Rainwater Goods - Lapford Church Tower Downpipes Shoe and Rainwater Gulley

Free-flowing downpipes & shoe and clear rainwater gulley after maintenance

As William Morris, the founder of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) puts it, ‘stave off decay by daily care’. It is the idea that expensive major works can be avoided if we are thorough with inexpensive regular maintenance.

West Access Conservation have inspected and conserved historic buildings for more than 25 years. We understand well the on-going battle between the prevailing weather and the church fabric and we deal with the consequences on a daily basis. The rainwater goods and coverings are the crucial first line of defence against the elements. If they are given proper consideration and regular attention then they will protect the building beneath.

We are also a company that specialise in difficult and high-level access which makes us well placed to deal with church eaves / roof valleys and tower parapets & downpipes. We have therefore decided to offer a maintenance service specifically tailored to ecclesiastical and historic buildings. Despite the similar design, we understand that every church will have a unique maintenance requirement and require a bespoke service.

We appreciate there is a lot of information below! Please read what you feel you can and if you, your fabric committee, the PCC think you might be interested in this service and would like a free, quote/proposal, please email us, call the office on 01392 875400 or Guy on 07963 084323. We would visit your church for half an hour to gather the information and then send you the quote/proposal by email.

Maintenance Visit Testimonials

We are lucky to have a well preserved church in Ladock and make every effort to keep it this way. We have used West Access under the direction of Guy Barret to deliver on-going maintenance for some time and have found the service he provides exemplary. West Access are professional and work in a partnership with us that removes friction and meets the directions and requirements in a timely fashion. Their reports are thorough, user friendly and form the basis of the work plan. They are proactive and have a very good understanding of church buildings and the infrastructure. I recommend them.

Simon HolbrookeChurchwarden, Ladock Church

West Access Conservation did an excellent job at modest cost. I was impressed in particular with the quality of the after-action report which was both comprehensive and offered sound advice.

Sir Ian MacfadyenChurchwarden, Hawkesbury Church

At St Mary the Virgin, Cannington we have had an annual maintenance contract with West Access Conservation for several years and it has proven excellent! The South side of our roof is not readily accessible so having the gutters cleaned and roof inspected without the need for expensive scaffolding is invaluable. On completion of the visit; we receive a comprehensive report on all roofs detailing the work carried out, highlighting any problems present or potential problems that could present themselves. For churchwardens the service provided is most reassuring.

Colin FitzpatrickChurchwarden, Cannington Church

West Access have carried out a number of inspections of our church at Rose Ash in North Devon and have provided an excellent service during that time. They clearly know their stuff, are responsive, and very helpful about doing extra jobs such as checking loose stonework and slates etc. Their bi-annual reports, complete with photographs of the roof and other areas, have been a great help in maintaining the church as a whole, and we are delighted to have a contractor who can go beyond their brief as and when requested.

Caro HammickChurchwarden, Roseash Church

What is in a Maintenance Visit?

Cleaning and Clearance – Our initial survey will record the location, number and length of every roof area, lead valley, lead gutter, eave gutter, hopper, downpipe, rain water gulley and ground gutter. The results of which can be seen in the “Breakdown of Maintenance Areas” supplied in the Proposal. During the subsequent maintenance visit we will clear debris from all areas listed, to ensure the clear flow of water away from the building. We will also make any required notes and take images of our work, sending this information to you in the form of a report. This will serve two purposes: firstly you can be satisfied that the work has been carried out to a high standard and secondly the report can also be filed as a record of the church’s maintenance log.

Re-slating of Lapford Church Chancel Roof

Gutter Clearance of Lapford Church Chancel Roof

Slipped Slates & Small Issues – As well as cleaning and clearance, we will try where possible to fix any issues we find on the day, whether that be a slipped slate or ‘flash band’ repairs over failing lead. However, if we encounter any maintenance issues that cannot be dealt with there and then, a photograph will be taken with notes and included under each area in the maintenance report. The report will be supplied by email to the churchwardens and/or PCC for them to take a view on further repairs.

Reports / Maintenance Logs – Preparing a costed 10 year maintenance plan is often part of a grant application, such as the Heritage Lottery Fund. As well as the agreed plan, the church is required to keep a logbook of the work carried out. You will receive a report from us after every visit detailing the areas that have been cleared accompanied by images and notes. This report can be used as your maintenance log. It will be sent as an email and can be kept as a PDF or printed and filed. If you do not have any grant applications pending, then it can just be considered as good housekeeping by the PCC.

How Often? – The Maintenance Plan documented in “Repair grants for places of worship in England” and recommended by the DAC on their website states “if you employ a building contractor to clear the gutter every six months, this task should be carried out in Spring and Autumn, after the fall of blossom and leaves.” Other guidance notes such as Church Care also suggest a bi-annual visit. However, every church has a different requirement depending on many factors including the proximity to trees, coastal birds / nesting jackdaws etc.

Costs – The length of time our maintenance team is with you would depend upon the size and complexity of the church roofs and rainwater goods, which is therefore reflected in the cost. The more churches we provide maintenance for in one area, the more cost effective we can be. Once we have undertaken the free survey we will send you the cost information you need for the PCC to take a view. However, as a guide, the average cost is £260 + vat. Please remember any VAT can always be reclaimed using the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme found at

Health & Safety – Maintenance work at high level usually requires the repeated repositioning of extended ladders. The “Work at Height Regulation 2005” allow for the use of ladders as long as the necessary risk assessments and protections are carried out. The regulations apply to employers, person under their control and to the self employed. However, in light of this guidance the HSE considers volunteers in the following statement, “While most Health and Safety law specifically refers to ‘employees’ and the duties owed to them, it is good practice, and very strongly recommended, that people working as volunteers are given the same level of protection.” Therefore, allowing us to undertake the high level maintenance work will remove this area of concern for the church and their volunteers.

Aim Of Maintenance Program – The hope and aim is that our knowledgeable and thorough approach to maintenance, coupled with our unique reporting service will result in on-going benefit to the church fabric and therefore financial benefit to the church in the long term. Should it be required, it will also help to provide a platform to secure grant funding for future church projects.

What Will a Report Look Like?

The link below in yellow will take you to a report supplied to Bob Soutter (who kindly gave his permission) at Holy Trinity Church, Exmouth after a maintenance visit was undertaken there in November 2019.

Link to Maintenance Visit Report, Holy Trinity, Exmouth (This will open the report in a new browser window.)

What is the Difference Between West Access Conservation and a Local Builder?

  • We come for a free initial survey and record every roof pitch, lead valley, lead gutter, eaves gutter, hopper, downpipe, rainwater gulley and ground gutter. We note approximate measurements of all their number & lengths and then agree to ensure they are all clean and free-flowing after our visit.

  • As a company that specialises in the conservation of churches, we have a wealth of knowledge as to the causes of water ingress and the long term costly damage. We are therefore well-placed to resolve any issues.

  • Any repairs that may need to be carried out will de undertaken using conservation materials appropriate to your church. E.g. slates, rainwater goods, mortars and paints.

  • We are known to and have worked for most of the conservation architects in the southwest and are well-known to the DAC.

  • We carry equipment to access every part of your church should it be necessary and include the tower roof in our maintenance visit.

  • Our staff are rope access trained, so should there be a need to get to an external part of the tower, we can do that in-house. Although unless specifically requested, abseiling would not usually form part of the visit.

  • We produce an electronic report for you to store on record, showing what we have cleared & cleaned during the maintenance visit.

  • We produce an electronic report with text and detailed images of any issues that we note during our visit.

More Maintenance Visit Testimonials…

We are delighted with the reports which have been given to us on both our Churches (Holy Trinity, Exmouth & Littleham). For the first time (except for QIs) we are able to see exactly what is going on, on our many and varied roofs, and to feel confident that we now know the true state. Guy and Jon know what they are doing, and in addition are a real pleasure to work with. We would strongly recommend them

Bob SoutterFCIB - Treasurer, Littleham cum Exmouth PCC

West Access has been a great choice for us because their understanding and experience with church buildings is so reliable and thorough. Of all the experts who have looked at our subsidence problem recently, they are the ones who first found one of the chief causes. As far as our maintenance contract with them goes, we found them to be really helpful with prioritising as well as being flexible and thorough. They have all the right equipment for going up towers as well.

Heather MayChurchwarden, Rockbeare Church

West Access Conservation (WAC) have been employed by the PCC for a number of years to carry out a six monthly maintenance visit to clear and clean all the church’s gutters and associated down pipes, hoppers, etc. Led by Guy Barrett they always do this is a thoroughly professional manner, ensuring that everywhere is left clean and debris free. After each visit they send the PCC written and photographic documentation comprehensively describing the work they have undertaken together with any problems, such as broken or slipped slates, they have noticed. As a result the PCC has a good record of the state of the church’s roof and gutters. Guy is always willing to discuss and advise on the way forward to rectify any defects that have been noted.

Chris Wreford-BrownTreasurer, Ermington Church

West Access Conservation carries out a six-monthly check of the roofs, valleys, hoppers and downpipes of Littleham Church in Exmouth where until recently I was churchwarden. They have also carried out lime mortar replacement work to our tower and walls. They are rope access specialists with wide experience of both the different ways to access awkward areas and the appropriate solutions to any problems discovered. I have found dealing with Guy Barrett straightforward and as well as technical ability he also has a pragmatic approach to the realities of church maintenance budgets. I qualified as a civil engineer but having spent about half of my career managing building maintenance contracts I can certainly recommend them.

Martyn HaleyChurchwarden, Littleham Church

I’m interested in more information, please get in touch.