Advice & Guidance

Using Logbooks

Survey drawingRecording your maintenance activities in your building logbook or conservation manual is a key part of good maintenance practice. Keeping a detailed logbook is strongly recommended, as it will help you to:

  • Keep track of when inspections were carried out and any defects that were found.
  • Document the actions taken to tackle any problem areas.
  • Recognise the skills and knowledge necessary to carry out effective maintenance.
  • Identify future maintenance actions.
  • Identify future learning needs.

You can also use your logbook to reflect on your actions as it is a useful way of gathering insights into particular incidents, thinking through what went well and what could have been done differently. In this way, reflection will help you to make sense of your experiences and highlight areas for future development and action. Reflection should therefore lead to an improvement in skills and understanding.

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Keeping a logbook will have further benefits for your place of worship. Your logbook might become an aid to documenting local history or might be useful as supporting evidence to demonstrate the work you already undertake when you are applying for funding. They can also be handed on to successive generations of volunteers to inform future decisions and support the continued safekeeping of your historic building.

Maintenance scheduleBy keeping records, you will be able to monitor the maintenance needs of your place of worship and budget accordingly. It is generally a good idea to set aside a small amount of money each year for maintenance tasks such as cleaning gutters and unblocking drains. A little yearly investment might mean that you do not have to raise funds to tackle major repairs caused by a leaking roof.

Your logbook should contain copies of all the information necessary to help you look after your building effectively.

Drainage drawingIt might therefore include copies of measured plans; historical and archaeological assessments; fire, disaster and salvage plans; the health and safety file; security and access plans as well as any reports by specialist conservators. Periodic reports on service installations, operating instructions and routine inspection and maintenance records should also be included if available.

You might also like to include additional resources such as the Faith in Maintenance calendar or checklist; details of other reference books and articles; a note of useful websites as well as the contact details of your professional advisors, contractors and denominational staff. By putting all this information together and keeping an up-to-date record of repairs and alterations, it should be possible to minimise disruption and save money by making use of existing knowledge and experience to help prioritise future programmes of repair.

Remember also that some of these documents will be incredibly valuable to those caring for your place of worship in the future. Keep or Bin? - The Care of Your Parish Records (published by the Church of England) is designed to help clergy and parish officers understand which records need to be kept, which should be sent to the local archive centre, and which can be disposed of as confidential waste.

© SPAB 2010