Rettie are proud to support the important work and conservation education undertaken by Edinburgh World Heritage and to feature their guest articles.

“Every £1 ‘saved’ by not carrying out preventative maintenance could cost £20 in repairs within 5 years”
Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings

The City of Edinburgh is already feeling the effects of climate change. Increasing levels of rainfall, higher wind speeds, and more extreme and unpredictable weather events pose a number of very real threats to historic buildings. Decaying stonework, mould growth, metal corrosion, and ground instability all affect a building’s ability to withstand the effects of climate change, but simple steps such as clearing gutters and renewing paintwork can significantly improve the health of your property.

In 2019, in partnership with Historic Environment Scotland and Edinburgh Adapts, Edinburgh World Heritage published the Guide to Building Maintenance in a Changing Climate. Here are our top tips from the guide to help get you and your property climate ready.

building roof image with chimney pots

Vegetation growing on stoneledge causing decay (c) Edinburgh World Heritage

Keep an eye on the weather

Climate change is already affecting our weather patterns with increased rainfall, higher temperatures, higher wind speeds, more sunshine, and solar radiation. These all have an effect on our buildings, potentially making them less wind and watertight. Following extreme weather, such as a storm or heavy period of rain, inspect your roof, walls, and windows for damp or missing elements and repair damage as soon as possible.

Get to know your home

Did you know that cracked and peeling paintwork can let in wind and water? Do you have blocked gutters or slipped roof tiles that might allow water in? Getting to know the exterior and interior of your building can help you to identify issues as soon as they occur and prevent greater damage requiring a larger amount of work, and money, in the future.

image of drainpipes

Cast iron downpipe in poor repair causing leaking, damp, and algae growth (c) Edinburgh World Heritage

Talk to your neighbours

Every proprietor has a legal duty to maintain the parts of shared properties that provide support and shelter, from the roof to the foundations. Your property’s title deeds should give details of how to work out your share of the costs. Find your title deeds via your solicitor, mortgage lender, or Registrers of Scotland. Oh, and say hello to your neighbour next time you pass them on the stair.

Get to know your trades

Finding a professional contractor or tradesperson to carry out minor repairs is crucial; when it comes to your home and your money, getting the job done well is just as important as getting the job done. Ask two or three contractors for a quote and find out what experience they have of carrying out similar work, who will manage it, and how long it will take. is a great place to start.

image of workman

Professional carrying out maintenance on property (c) Kevin Maclean

Take it step by step

Maintenance isn’t the most exciting thing in the world, but it is really simple and most of us do it already. Do you spring clean your house every autumn? Now take ten minutes to check your windows, roof, and walls. Taking an hour once a year to clean your gutters-or paying a contractor to do it safely for you!- is a much more manageable task than having to call an emergency roofer at 2 am because you have a waterfall in your living room.

For further advice, checklists and more, visit or