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Quinquennial Inspections

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What is a Quinquennial Inspection?

Who carries out a Quinquennial Inspection?

Preparing for the inspection

The Quinquennial Report

Next steps

Paying for the inspection

What is a Quinquennial Inspection?

A Quinquennial Inspection is an inspection of a church building every five years to identify any problems that require maintenance or repair. The inspection will be carried out by an appropriate professional, who will then produce a Quinquennial Report to highlight any issues which need to be addressed.

The Quinquennial Inspection report will cover different aspects of the building, and list them in a priority order according to condition. The report will not provide a list of repairs and should not be used as such, rather it will highlight any defects which can be brought to the attention of the Parochial Church Council (PCC), as they plan for the future care and repair of the building.

In line with the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and Care of Churches Measure 2018, it is a legal requirement for the following buildings to be inspected every five years:

  • parish churches
  • consecrated churches
  • chapels
  • licensed places of worship (opted in under the Care of Places of Worship Measure 1999)
  • buildings licensed for public worship

The DAC administration team will prompt your parish when your church building is due for a Quinquennial Inspection.

Who carries out a Quinquennial Inspection?

It is the responsibility of the Parish to appoint a Quinquennial Inspector and ensure that the inspection is carried out.

If the church was built after the year 1900 the Quinquennial Inspection must be carried out by an appropriately qualified professional recognised by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) or the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). This can be an architect, quantity surveyor, Architectural Technologist, or Structural Engineer. When searching on RIBA, please note that only the designations ‘Conservation Architect’ and ‘Specialist Conservation Architect’ meet the requirements for a Quinquennial Inspector.

If the church was built prior to the year 1900 the Quinquennial Inspection must be carried out by a professional who either possesses an accreditation in conservation from RIBA, RICS or Architects Accredited in Building Conservation (AABC) or has confirmed to the diocese that they intend to retire by April 2029.

Quinquennial Inspectors must hold Professional Indemnity Insurance coverage and evidence of this should be given in writing to the PCC once the appointment is made.

To avoid conflict of interest, the inspector should not be a church member or have any close connection with the parish, be that a friend or family member of someone involved with the church.

Finding an inspector

PCCs can find a Quinquennial Inspector through the websites mentioned above - RIBA, RICS, or AABC. Before appointing an inspector, the PCC must confirm with the DAC that this will be a suitable appointment.

The inspector must meet certain requirements depending on the age of the building requiring inspection, further details of which can be found in the section above.

It is the responsibility of the parish to find and appoint a Quinquennial Inspector with the correct accreditation. It is often a requirement of church building grants that the lead professional on a project possesses conservation accreditation, so it is in the best interest of the parish to ensure the inspector has this before appointment.

The appointment of a Quinquennial Inspector is a personal appointment, which means that even if the appointment is made through their employing firm, only the specified inspector may carry out the inspection. When the time comes for the next Quinquennial Inspection, it can be favourable for the same inspector to be appointed as they will already be familiar with the building.

Preparing for the inspection

Things to consider ahead of the Quinquennial Inspection:

  • Ensure the inspector is allowed enough time in the building to inspect it thoroughly. This could be several days for larger churches.
  • Ensure the inspector has a copy of the previous quinquennial report and copies of all recent specialist reports, including:
    1. a Statement of Significance and/or Conservation Management Plan if such exist
    2. the relevant pages of the Church Log Book and Inventory, updated with any works carried out in the quinquennium
    3. all recent test/survey reports on asbestos, heating and electrical installations, stormwater and foul drainage, fire protection and lightning systems
    4. any arboricultural and ecological reports (e.g. bats or other protected or rare species)
    5. Access audit, if one has been carried out
    6. Energy Audit, Eco Church Survey, or other environmental report, if applicable.
  • Special access arrangements should be made in advance, including secure and protected ladders for roof inspections (if they are safely accessible). Long ladders should be requested from a local builder if necessary and it must be ensured that these are safely secured for use by the inspector. Ladder usage should follow up-to-date safety guidelines.
  • Access needs should be agreed upon for inspecting high-level elements, such as MEWP (Mobile Elevated Work Platform) or a scaffold tower. Agree on additional labour as necessary for operating access equipment. It may be practical for the inspector to pre-arrange this special access. The fees for doing so and hire costs must be agreed prior to the inspection.
  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (Drones) may only be used to assist with the inspection if legally supervised by fully trained and certificated personnel, subject to permissions from neighbours etc.
  • Where there is only one inspector, a parish representative should check on them during the inspection for safety reasons and to assist with ladders, hatches etc. Timings and availability of personnel should be agreed in advance with your inspector.
  • Churches may require that additional professionals inspect the building under the direction of the lead inspector. If more than one inspector is required, there will be an additional fee to cover this.
  • Ensure that keys are available for parts of the building which are usually locked.
  • Bells should be rung down for the inspection. Bell ringers should report on issues with the ring.
  • The inspector should be given updates on environmental and energy-saving issues.
  • Check with the Inspector if the heating should be on or off for the inspection, or whether it has no bearing on the inspection.

Inspector Safety

There are a few things to consider when ensuring the safety of your inspector as they carry out the inspection:

  • Ladder use must comply with the 2005 Work at Height Regulations. Please refer to Safe Use of Ladders and Stepladders and Working at Height: A Brief Guide.
  • Nobody - including inspectors and churchwardens - should climb vertical ladders that are over 3m high.
  • Ladders must be safe and securely fixed with no defects. A second person should be used to 'foot' the ladder ONLY as a last resort.
  • Hatches must have counterweights.
  • Ladders must have extensions of about 1m or handholds beyond the plane of the hatch to ease getting on and off the ladder.
  • Only enter a bell chamber once all full-circle bells are in the 'down' position.

The Quinquennial Report

What will it include?

You can expect to find in your Quinquennial Report:

  • A clear plan of the building with annotated photos where necessary.
  • Internal and external photos of the building.
  • Photos of any defects.
  • References to earlier reports, indicating works that have been completed and works that still remain to be done, listed in order or priority.

Findings will be split into five categories:

  1. Urgent, requiring immediate attention
  2. Requires attention within 12 months
  3. Requires attention within the next 12 – 24 months
  4. Requires attention within the quinquennial period
  5. A desirable improvement with no timescale (as agreed with the PCC)

The inspector should have inspected all parts of the building, including internal and external roofing (where possible to access safely). The report should state any of its limitations, where the inspector was unable to access certain areas, and can recommend further investigations of these where necessary.

The report should be written and structured clearly, so it is understandable even to those who do not possess technical knowledge.

The report is not required to indicate costs for repairs, or what permissions they will require from the diocese.

How to use your Quinquennial Report

Copies of the report must be emailed to the DAC, your Archdeacon, and the PCC. The inspector may not do this, so please ensure your PCC forwards the report to the appropriate recipients.

The Incumbent, Churchwardens and PCC will need to sign off the report once all parties have agreed on the report and understand the recommendations made. It is favourable for the PCC to walk around the building whilst considering the recommendations made. The Quinquennial Inspector should be willing to discuss the recommendations with the PCC.

Once the report has been agreed upon, the priority levels assigned to different aspects of the building will help you plan for repair work, e.g. re-pointing, re-cladding, making provisions for eco-friendly alternatives, etc.

When planning for repairs, it might ease the process to tackle one area of the building at a time, e.g. tower, vestries, nave, etc.

It is advisable to begin urgent work as soon as possible, gaining the necessary consent to carry out repairs. Lower priority works should also be planned for, especially if they will need tending to before the next Quinquennial Inspection.

Next steps

Through a separate contract, your PCC can instruct the Quinquennial Inspector or another suitable professional to provide a specification and seek tenders from suitable builders.

If public money will be involved in repair or maintenance work, tendering may be required in accordance with procurement rules. This usually applies to circumstances where over £10,000 for the fees comes from the public (including National Lottery Heritage Fund Grants). You can find guidance on this here:

Faculty permission is required for all works to the building unless they come under Lists A or B under the Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2015. To apply for a faculty, please visit the Online Faculty System.

Maintaining the building

A maintenance plan is a valuable tool when it comes to monitoring and keeping up with the care and maintenance of the church building. You can find further guidance and a useful maintenance plan template at the National Churches Trust website.

Paying for the inspection

Manchester Diocese will pay the fee for a Quinquennial Inspection upon receipt of the Quinquennial Report by the PCC and the DAC.

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