A Checklist of Chores for Maintaining an English Country Home

Written by Posted On Thursday, 27 April 2017 04:29

There is nothing more quintessentially British than jumping into the Jag for a long weekend in the countryside, save perhaps for a spot of afternoon tea and Her Majesty the Queen.

The tradition for escaping the city is centuries old, harking back to an era when families of privilege would spend the social season at their town house, then retire to their family residence for autumn and winter. Prior to 1832, these country estates would have been the permanent home of the landed gentry, and were used to demonstrate the social standing and wealth of their occupants.

Handed down through generations, the properties that remain are as handsome as ever. However, the current economy is not as kind to these stately homes and sweeping farmhouses as it once was. The upkeep which would have historically been managed by a private staff are increasingly handled by the property’s owners – and with maintenance costs for a country home estimated to be around 2% of their overall value, it’s no wonder why.

Keeping track of the task list is another job entirely however, and it can be a monumental challenge to assess the condition of a historic property all at once. If your property is battling periods of neglect from previous owners, it can pay to start your work with a professional Country House Survey, to help you prioritise the areas needing the most urgent care.

Once the most pressing issues have been tackled, the key to upholding the charm and character of your home is routine care. Whether you’re looking after an entire rural estate or a humble period cottage, our checklist can keep you keep track of your chores throughout the year.



Use the warmer weather to spot any damage from winter, and make a list for repair jobs that will need doing once it stops raining. Pay particular attention to your roofline, which will need to be in tip-top shape.


  • Inspect the loft for signs of water leaks.
  • Move furniture away from walls to check for damp spots.
  • Check all windows are functioning properly, clean curtains and allow the property to thoroughly air.


  • Clear debris and foliage from gutters, checking the condition of pipework and drains as you work.
  • Inspect the condition of your roof. Damaged or missing tiles should be replaced as a priority, and thatched roofing should be checked for excessive decline, particularly at the ridge, and patching should be arranged if necessary.
  • Check chimney pots are secure, and that bird guards are fitted.
  • Use a soft brush to clean excess dirt from exterior, checking the condition of walls, windows and roofline.
  • Remove dirt and cobwebs from airbricks.
  • Sweep patios, decking, gates and garden walls. Remove any plants which have withered over winter.



Make the most of your beautiful home in the warmer weather by letting it breathe, and keeping the garden looking its best. Take advantage of the drier weather to complete all the maintenance jobs you spotted in spring.


  • Keep curtains and windows open wherever possible to keep damp and mould at bay.
  • Look out for signs of pests in the loft and disused areas of the house, like mice, wasps or moths. Use a professional service
  • Hire a professional chimney sweep prior to lighting your first fire, but after roosting birds have flown (the beginning of August). Ask them to check for any signs of damage or wear.
  • Towards the end of the season, bleed radiators and ensure your boiler has been serviced.


    • Make any required repairs to roofline and windows.
    • Once the weather improves, complete any required repainting or re-rendering, including mortar repairs.
    • Inspect timber cladding and beams for signs of rot or decay.
    • Trim plants which may affect the structure of your home, like trees, large shrubs and climbers. Left to grow, their roots and tendrils can loosen the foundations and mortar of your building.

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Older homes tend to get chilly as the temperature drops, so make sure you keep indoors snug. Outside you’ll need to take steps to protect the property during the coming bad weather.


      • Use heavy curtains over external doors and keep draught excluders on hand in chilly rooms.
      • Check the insulation around windows and in your roof (loft insulation should be 270mm thick or equivalent).


        • Clear your roofline, gutters and drains from debris, and trim overhanging branches or climbing plants which may block gutters over the coming months.
        • Sweep leaves and clear items from the perimeter of your building to prevent damp build-up over cooler months
        • Turn external water off before the first frost.


          Winter is the season for damp inside and bad weather tearing at your home home’s outside. Stay on top of problems by habitually checking for symptoms of damage.


  • Keep windows open wherever possible, and use extractor fans in bathrooms and kitchens.
  • Open windows whenever the weather is milder to let plenty of fresh air through the building.
  • Look out for condensation, wiping it away and increasing the temperature of the affected rooms wherever possible.


    • Assess the property for damage after storms, frost or snow. Cracks in walls, paving or fencing which have appeared or increased in size should be addressed as soon as possible. Use binoculars to inspect the roof for tile damage.
    • Check for damaged branches which may pose a risk to areas of the property or people beneath.
    • The effort and expense of owning a piece of British history is not fit for everyone, but if the excitement and challenge sounds like your cup of tea, take a look at some of these

castles for sale

    , and get ready to roll up your sleeves.
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