These are some of the lessons our church has learned the hard way. Before submitting reordering plans to the DAC, make sure that you agree with all the content. You will not be able to make substantive changes afterwards without a resubmission, which will cause delay. Do not be afraid to question apparent errors and omissions. The tender documents (drawings and specifications) should be studied and questioned. Once errors or omissions are in them, there is a great difficulty (both in delay and expense) in getting them changed. If you want to reclaim items such as pews, tiles, or stones during demolition, include these here, and not at a later stage.
CHECK the minute details before proceeding. I have often quoted a carpenters’ saying: “Measure twice, cut once.”
While the PCC is subject to all kinds of permission, from DAC to planning and listed-building consent, that is where the buck stops when anything happens or is planned with the church building.
This responsibility can be arduous, especially on projects with a file or more of specifications and drawings. But it is negligent to authorise works without checking that everything is in order, in line with agreements and controls. You will be paying the bills, and any mistakes will have to be paid for.
Before sending project materials to the DAC — they may be sent by the architect, but in the church’s name — sit down with the architect and go through every aspect of the works that are being commissioned. Look through the drawings and documents, get as good a grasp as you can, and query any issues you spot; the overall project should have been agreed already. Once you receive the faculty, this will apply to exactly what is covered in the submitted documents, and any subsequent variation is not possible without going back through the faculty system.
Ensure that you have a small group in place as works proceed so that you can check that any minor variations in the works do not go outside the faculty agreement.
When it comes to checking what goes out to tender, your professional design team will be helpful. If you have a quantity surveyor and an architect, you know that they will have gone through the details.
The documents will include drawings, and a document that details every aspect of the work and the materials to be used. Even the type, size, and material for nails, screws, glue, and mortar will be listed in detail. This is to ensure that inferior materials are not used, and that the perhaps more expensive, good-quality screws are properly priced in building up the tender price.
When the tender documents are returned, the right-hand column on these pages will be filled in detail with costings that build up to the overall bid from the builder. Your quantity surveyor will read through every page, ensuring that realistic figures, neither too high nor too low, are included, and that all addition is correct.
If there is something included in this document which you did not want — or something that you forgot, such as keeping the tiles or pews — changing this would affect the builder’s price and delay the contract and the project. So expect to find, in the document, information on what happens with the builder if there is a weekday wedding or a funeral that interrupts their work; all these items will affect the price, and could result in the church having to pay out more money at a later stage if not addressed.
It goes without saying that it never pays to change your mind on a building project after the measuring stages: your “measuring twice” involves checking all the details with extreme care.
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