Caring for a church building through a well-planned maintenance regime is an excellent way to save money and to ensure your church remains an inviting place to spend time.

Valuable sources of advice include the ChurchCare and Maintenance Co-operatives websites.

Gutter Maintenance Programme

The Gutter Maintenance Programme is a maintenance co-operative established to provide a fixed sum for gutter clearance to church buildings. It is a not-for-profit enterprise with two simple aims:

  • To clear gutters (which benefits your building, and saves you the cost of repairs later on).
  • To provide the most affordable service possible.

All churches in the Diocese of London are able to apply to join the scheme.

Please email or call 020 3837 5054.


Quinquennial Inspection

Church buildings are inspected every five years by an appointed ‘quinquennial inspector’. The purpose of the inspection is to create a record of the building’s condition, and to identify all the maintenance and repair priorities which will require attention over the following five years.

Your Quinquennial Inspector

Under the Inspection of Churches Measure 1955, as amended by the Care of Churches and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure 1991, all consecrated buildings of the Church of England must by law be inspected once in every five years by a registered architect or chartered building surveyor (the ‘Quinquennial Inspector’ or QI) who is approved by the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC). In the Diocese of London the QI is employed by the PCC after approval by the DAC. The QI may then be retained to specify any repairs or to develop larger scale projects. It is always beneficial to seek your QI’s advice when you employ a separate project architect or surveyor for a major new development or when you employ any other building professional such as a lighting designer or heating engineer.

A proposal by your PCC to appoint a new architect or surveyor must be approved by the DAC. To help you, the Parish Property Support Team holds a list of architects and surveyors who, in general, are suitable to carry out inspections, and a selection of three names can be made available. You are free to ask for a further selection if needed. The PCC should interview three inspectors and a proposal by your PCC to appoint a new architect or surveyor will be considered at the next DAC meeting. If the Committee has any concerns about suitability because of the age or complexity of your church building, then it may suggest that you look at alternative candidates.

The nominated inspectors name should be sent to

You should inform the Parish Property Support Team, who will arrange for the candidate to be interviewed by a member of the DAC and a member of the Parish Property Support Team. The decision made at this interview must then be ratified by the DAC. He/she and you will then be notified and you will then be free to apply to the DAC for approval of the inspector’s appointment to your church in the normal way.

  1. The person must be suitably qualified and have experience of buildings similar in age, construction and significance to yours. If your church is listed, the person should have experience of work with buildings of that listing grade.
  2. The person should have an understanding of your particular building and where it is listed be able to prepare a statement of significance, whilst being sympathetic to the needs and vision of the parish.
  3. Any potential QI should be invited to visit the church and meet members of the PCC or fabric sub-committee. This meeting is crucial as a good working relationship will be needed between these people and the QI.
  4. Travelling expenses should be considered. This may be an argument against using someone from a distance but in some cases PCCs decide that substantial travelling expenses are worth paying to secure the right candidate.
  5. It may be necessary to check the architect’s willingness to use, for instance, vertical ladders in the church tower. This depends on the type of church and the nature of the access arrangements in the building.
  6. If you plan to employ your QI for work in addition to the report itself and are seeking grant assistance from English Heritage for any of this work the QI will need to hold membership of either the AABC (Architect Accredited in Building Conservation) scheme or the RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) conservation accreditation scheme.
  7. You should check the value of the architect’s professional indemnity insurance (bearing in mind that £250,000 for each claim is a good minimum). You should also check for any history of past claims.

You appoint a QI as an individual. The appointment is not automatically transferred to another member of the practice if the named person retires or leaves. Your PCC may wish to appoint another member of the practice if that person also has the necessary skills, but the new appointment must be approved by the DAC in the usual way. If your new QI works on his/her own, the PCC should satisfy itself that this would not be a disadvantage in terms of support services.

You can, and this may have the advantage that the person has a particular interest in and concern for the building. However, such a close relationship often runs into difficulties. A difference of opinion may arise, or pastoral needs may interfere with what would be in the best interest of the fabric of the building. Therefore, the DAC does not recommend the appointment of a closely involved person as QI or as surveyor/architect to a major project. Members of the PCC and churchwardens are barred from appointment as the QI to their own church. If the PCC nevertheless decides to appoint a member of the congregation, then it should at least ensure as usual that the scope and terms of the appointment are clearly set out in writing and that the work is covered by normal Professional Indemnity Insurance.

This is explained in detail in the 2010 Scheme for the Quinquennial Inspection of Churches, a copy of which can be obtained from the Parish Property Support Team or downloaded from the Buildings section of the Diocese of London’s website here. The supplementary document ‘Quinquennial Inspections in the Diocese of London’ explains in summary how to carry out the inspection and write the report, and a copy of this is sent to your QI each time they are commissioned to produce one. This too can be obtained from the Parish Property Support Team or downloaded from the Diocese of London’s website via the same link.

In the Diocese of London, the fees for the production of quinquennial inspection reports are paid by the office of the relevant Archdeacon. The Diocese has four payment bands into which churches are placed depending upon their size and complexity, as follows:

  • Band A: £1,250
  • Band B: £1,130
  • Band C: £970
  • Band D: £840

All figures exclude VAT. Most churches in the Diocese fall within Bands C (196) and D (262) while there are far fewer in Bands B (31) and A (4).The QI’s invoice should be sent to the Archdeacon, who will authorise the required payment.

Most PCCs choose to employ their QI for further items of work in addition to the production of the quinquennial inspection report. This might include specifying repairs, planning re-ordering, writing reports such as conservation plans or designing and managing a new development project. Provision of any professional services to the church other than the quinquennial inspection itself is a matter for negotiation between the PCC and its QI.

PCCs are free to employ any other architect or surveyor for building work and these appointments do not need to be approved by the DAC. The suitability of an additional architect/surveyor for the work which they are to carry out should be assessed very rigorously, and the Parish Property Support Team can provide informal advice to the PCC in this regard. An alternative source of assistance is the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) Nominations Service and the RICS ‘Find a Surveyor’ service which matches clients to suitable architectural practices and chartered surveyors respectively. Appointing an architect/surveyor with the right skills and experience will ensure that the parish is soundly advised and that delays in the approval process resulting from badly considered proposals and poorly presented schemes are kept to a minimum. It will provide parishes with the best aesthetic and functional results. Furthermore, a well presented, clear scheme can also provide a greater degree of certainty for parishes themselves at an early stage of their proposals. The most likely scenario in which an additional architect or surveyor would be employed is one where a PCC is planning a major new development project requiring significant and original design input. In this instance, when considering employing a project architect it may be beneficial to ask to visit one or more of their completed projects. It can also be helpful to visit parishes near to you which have successfully carried out major projects in order to seek their advice and to gather ideas. If the QI is not to be employed for a particular project the PCC should nonetheless inform him/her of its proposals and the QI should be satisfied that the project architect/surveyor has the required skills. In these cases the DAC may ask for assurance that the QI, as the person perhaps most familiar with the needs of the building, is happy with the PCC’s proposed appointment as the QI will remain responsible for the long term care of the building after a one-off development project has been completed. All architects and surveyors carry professional indemnity insurance, but it is wise to seek confirmation of the latter before making an appointment. The Parish Property Support Team can provide informal advice on this and related matters.

When dealing with any architect or surveyor, whether or not they are the QI, the nature and extent of each item of work should always be agreed in writing. All instructions should be agreed by the full PCC, unless they relate to matters which have been delegated to a fabric sub-committee. Your PCC should put in place a clear procedure which can be followed where works need to be carried out urgently, and it is helpful to have one point of contact between the PCC and the architect/surveyor to avoid giving conflicting instructions or information. Where your PCC is considering a major building or repair project it is especially important that your architect/surveyor is clearly and fully briefed and working to clearly defined and agreed scales of fees and stages of work. Remember that if a project is abandoned for any reason, the architect/surveyor is still entitled to fees for all work already carried out on the PCC’s instructions.

Additional work by the QI should be the subject of invoices from the QI to the PCC. The most important point to remember is that the fees concerned should be agreed in advance and in writing. Architects and surveyors are professional people whose practices may be concerned solely with church work and they should not be expected to carry out work on churches for reduced fees. Many architects will have a written fee structure explaining their policy on the provision of informal advice and the extent to which they will be prepared to provide this without charging a fee. It is sensible (and not in any way inappropriate) to ask about this at an early stage. In terms of project work: For small stand-alone projects, a simple agreement via an exchange of letters may suffice. Fees may be calculated on the basis of a percentage of the cost of the works (most usual), or on a time and expenses basis, or on a lump sum basis, the latter being suitable for feasibility studies. For larger projects, published forms of agreement are available from the RIBA. These have recently been updated and renamed ‘RIBA Agreements 2010’. Note that a ‘fixed price’ contract does not necessarily mean there will be no increases in costs. Variations may occur in relation to unexpected additional works. Such increases will be reflected in the architect’s fees.

If you decide to employ a new architect or surveyor part-way through a project they must obtain their predecessor’s written agreement and make any necessary licence agreements before using any feasibility studies, pre-development reports, drawings or other materials produced by the first architect/surveyor in the course of their work on your church. Contact the RIBA or RICS for further information if your new architect or surveyor is unsure of the correct procedure.

Experience shows that it is usually better to try and maintain a long term arrangement with an architect/surveyor than to change frequently. This avoids the risk of costly changes in repair philosophy and leads to commitment to the aims of the church. Professionals will be much happier to do small works on a limited fee if they know that other works will enable them to recover their costs later. Many become committed to the building they look after, and care needs to be exercised in the termination of an agreement. We recommend that all steps be taken to come to a resolution before terminating a professional relationship. Formal enquiries about professional standards can be addressed to the RIBA and RICS. See ‘Further Information’ below for the contact details of these organisations.

Most PCCs need to employ building professionals other than surveyors and architects from time to time, for instance lighting designers and heating engineers. If the work for which they are responsible falls within a larger scheme of repair or project work it may well be that the surveyor or architect can manage relationships with the other professionals with little input from the PCC. In many cases architectural input will be needed to ensure that, for instance, lighting and heating proposals take account of the building as a whole. As an example, the installation of an underfloor heating system may have a significant effect upon steps, ramps, door heights etc and a contractor working alone may not take full account of this. In some cases, however (for instance the installation of other, simpler kinds of heating systems) the work involved will not require any architectural input and on this basis it may be simpler and less expensive for the PCC to deal directly with the contractor concerned. There are many unique challenges involved in heating and lighting historic church buildings, and it is important that the firm chosen to undertake such work can demonstrate previous experience of working with church buildings successfully. Any contractor should be willing to provide contact details of previous customers, or written references, in order to establish their competence. It may also be necessary to employ commercial archaeological contractors during some works, either where excavations are required in sensitive areas or where alterations are being undertaken to particularly historic or complex buildings, especially those which contain fabric of pre-Victorian date. In this context all of the same principles apply. The Parish Property Support Team and the DAC’s Archaeology Advisor can provide guidance on finding a suitable archaeological contractor.

In this instance the same principles apply as those discussed above in respect of surveyors and architects. It is essential that all work is agreed in advance and in writing, with fees agreed in the same manner. It is also wise to seek two or preferably three quotations for significant pieces of work, and all reputable contractors and consultants should be willing to provide references on request. The Parish Property Support Team can provide informal advice on this and other related matters, including providing the details of suitable contractors in a wide range of fields.

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