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More information means less worry over project

26 February 2016

I am a retired priest in a church that has a churchwarden who has been in post for less than a year. (We have only one churchwarden.) Part of the roof of our listed church building needs to be repaired. It is not yet clear whether a faculty will be required. Our churchwarden wonders if there is a clear outline of the procedure that needs to be followed: for example, a flow chart.


I DON’T know of a good flow chart that could help you, but it would be a great idea, even if it did result in something rather complex.

Your area dean, archdeacon, inspecting architect, or DAC secretary could give your fledgling churchwarden some guidance through the process of a roof repair. (There might be a fee if your architect is involved, but an architect will be necessary at some point, anyway.)

Contact the inspecting architect to agree the scope of the work required. If it seems that the work will cost more than £20,000-£30,000, you would be well advised to check the figures with a quantity surveyor. Remember to add in the fees to the design team: architect, quantity surveyor, structural engineer, health-and-safety consultant, and others, as the architect advises. Add VAT into your budget, because, although it may be reclaimable through the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme, you will have to spend it first, and then reclaim it.

With the scope of work agreed, you may need to fund-raise. At this point, a listed church should look at the Heritage Lottery Fund Grants for Listed Places of Worship: not only might they provide funding, but they also take those who are awarded a grant through the building process in meticulous detail.

With the targeted funds in hand, instruct the architect to go ahead and consult the appropriate professionals, designing the work and preparing the detailed specification. The PCC leads on applying for a faculty; the architect supplies the related drawings and paperwork. The architect will advise whether the planning authorities need to be consulted also; this is often necessary on the exterior or surround of listed churches.

When the work has the faculty in place, the project is put out to tender with several builders whose work is of a standard acceptable for the quality of the building. Listed churches almost always require specialist work, but not all builders have the skills. Your architect will include a check on the insurance that the builder carries.

The architect will act on the church’s behalf to ensure that the work is undertaken to an acceptable quality, and that the builder complies with the agreed health-and-safety plan; and, as project manager, the architect will ensure that the work is achieved within the agreed budget.

If unexpected work becomes necessary, check how this can be done within your budget, which would have included contingency allowances for this reason. Any expenditure outside of the agreed specification and budget would have to be approved by the PCC, especially if it means dipping into other PCC funds to cover the cost. Tell your architect in advance to check with you before using the contingency allowance.

It is fine to be the amateur or naïve client in this complex process. Ask all involved to explain what they are doing, and how they are doing it, especially in the planning stages. The more you are informed and knowledgeable, the less you will worry about the work, and the more confident you will be if there are detailed decisions to be made during the project.

Send your issues and questions to maggiedurran@virginmedia.com.

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