Have an architect on board

30 September 2016

It can help the building project if an architect is on your PCC — possibly even your vicar may have been an architect, once. Failing that, you need on your committee someone who is not fazed by technical plans and documents, and who will put in the time to study them con­structively.

 

IT IS all swings and roundabouts when you have a building profes­sional on your PCC. First, if there is a “conflict of interest” you cannot appoint him or her as your church architect, and that is proscribed by charity law.

Bear in mind that being the archi­tect for an ancient listed building is quite different, architecturally, from designing houses, factories, shops, streets, and so on. Your in-house architect may be the equivalent of a brain surgeon faced by a squalling child with undiagnosed spots, or a general practitioner given a scalpel to excise a tumour from somewhere delicate. But he or she may know the principle, and will be helpful in understanding the processes in­­volved, as well as reading all the details that go with building projects.

It is a question of an in-house professional’s not trying to do the work of the appointed church archi­tect, but of the use of his or her skills to ensure that the work runs smoothly under the architect’s man­agement.

As our correspondent says, you will need to examine all those details carefully, and, if your PCC lacks the skill to do this, look for someone who can help you. Professionally, a quantity surveyor is a good addition to the team for this function, but you might also look for a local person, or a friend of the church, who might volunteer to help.

Making up a building committee with a mixture of skills can be help­ful. The flamboyant characters who raise all the money, or inspire the con­­gregation and local residents, may be like chalk and cheese with those who have administrative skills, or those who are pernickety about details, but you need them all. A good chairperson can keep every­one singing from the same hymn sheet, albeit singing different mu­­sical parts.

A building committee can be authorised by the PCC to co-opt the volunteers it needs. That could include the person who promotes the project to the public and the person who understands building professionals.

On one committee, I met a de­­veloper who found that the land that the church was selling for just enough money to install lavatories could be sold instead for enough to reorder the entire church in the way the congregation wanted. It is a worthwhile skill.

 

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

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