Quinquennial inspections (QIs)

It is a statutory requirement for the following ecclesiastical buildings to be inspected every 5 years, in the form of a quinquennial inspection (QI):

  • all parish churches in the diocese
  • all other consecrated churches and chapels
  • buildings licensed for public worship

The quinquennial inspection comprises an on-site survey and subsequent written report.

Please note that the Archdeacon has authority to require an inspection where one has not been carried out within the specified time period.

New legislation

The procedure relating to QIs has changed, with the coming into effect of the Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure 2020 on 1st September 2020. This legislation amends and extends the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and Care of Churches Measure 2018, which previously governed the inspection of church buildings.

Key changes are that a PCC is no longer required to:

  • appoint a registered architect or chartered building surveyor in every case
  • select from an 'approved list' of names administered by the Lichfield Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC)

Instead, a suitably qualified and experienced professional can be identified by the PCC, with the appointment made subject to DAC advice.

A PCC is accordingly now required to:

  • request advice from the DAC on the proposed choice of quinquennial inspector, after which the final, informed decision lies with the PCC

Where a PCC wishes to re-appoint its current inspector, such as having previously been appointed from the 'approved list', then it does not need to seek DAC advice on that renewal (but it is welcome to do so). However, both the PCC and re-appointed inspector are required to operate under the new diocesan procedures (e.g. QI report format and timings) detailed below.

New Diocesan Scheme

In accordance with these changes, the Lichfield Diocesan Synod established a new Diocesan Scheme for the Inspection of Churches on 14th November 2020, from which date that Scheme came into operation within the diocese. PCCs and quinquennial inspectors should read the details of the new Scheme, as these constitute diocesan requirements in addition to the legislation:

Updated guidance

PCCs should consult the following detailed Church of England guidance on the procurement and appointment of an inspector, which also includes advice on QI surveys and reports:

That guidance includes advice on the qualifications and experience a person needs to carry out inspections – see particularly the boxed section (on page 2) called 'Criteria for appointing a suitable person to the role of inspector', which is reproduced below for ease of reference:

Criteria for appointing a suitable person to the role of inspector

  • Competent to inspect Major Churches (as defined by the Church Buildings Council), which includes what used to be Greater Churches: proven experience of working with such large and/or highly significant and complex church buildings is recommended, at least at a junior level under a more experienced professional; and experience of working on Grade I or II* church buildings in a sole capacity. Relevant accreditation would normally be required, and always for professionals undertaking their first inspector role.
  • Competent to inspect Grade I or II* churches: proven experience of work in a sole capacity with listed buildings; proven experience of work with such highly designated church buildings at least at a junior level under a more experienced professional; preferably experience in sole capacity. Relevant accreditation would normally be required, and always for professionals undertaking their first inspector role.
  • Competent to inspect Grade II churches: proven experience of work in a sole capacity with listed buildings; preferably experience of working with listed church buildings at least at a junior level under a more experienced professional. Relevant accreditation would normally be recommended, and always for professionals undertaking their first inspector role.
  • Competent to inspect unlisted churches: no specific prior experience expected, but evidence of supervision from an experienced professional with experience of church buildings is recommended. For certain buildings, evidence of experience of working with traditional materials may be required.

It is important that a quinquennial inspector's training, accreditation (where necessary – see above), and experience in building conservation is commensurate with the complexity and significance of the church building in question.

Given the recent call by General Synod for all parts of the Church to achieve year-on-year reductions in emissions, it would be valuable for the inspector to have proven experience of how heritage buildings can be made more environmentally sustainable. This might include suitable ways to reduce heat loss, different approaches to church heating, and the possibility of renewable energy generation.

DAC register of inspectors

It is advisable that the PCC seeks at least 3 applications, through a formal competitive appointment process, when choosing a new quinquennial inspector or reviewing a current appointment. The DAC now maintains a register (rather than an 'approved list') with details of inspectors currently working in the diocese, from which the PCC can draw, or the PCC may wish to consider a new applicant not on that register:

An inspector, whether on the register or not, can only be appointed by the PCC following consultation with the DAC. As each application for DAC advice constitutes a particular combination of inspector and church building, advice is accordingly given on a case-by-case basis.

Whether a tendering professional is on this register or not, the DAC will give advice as to the suitability of their appointment for your church. The National Churches Trust hosts a Professional Trades Directory with a section for quinquennial inspectors where you might find other candidates who may wish to tender.

Please note that the appointment of a quinquennial inspector is:

  • always of an individual, not a firm
  • for one inspection and report in the first place

Application process

Prior to making an application, the PCC should complete the forms from Appendix 2 (page 10) of the Church of England guidance on the procurement and appraisal of an inspector. These have been extracted for ease of access, and can be downloaded as editable templates below.

The PCC should submit the following completed forms for DAC advice:

Please complete the following sections:

  • 'The tendering process for an inspector' form (page 1)
  • 'Assessment criteria and scoring' forms (page 2 onwards)

It is requested that the name of the church in question is added to these completed forms, to identify the request for advice.

Assessment criteria no. 2 (accreditation, skills and professional development) in the 'Assessment criteria and scoring' forms requires subsequent DAC input, but the PCC should address this section as fully as possible prior to submitting the application.

There are several conservation accreditation schemes, some of which have different levels. PCCs should ascertain themselves which appropriate schemes the professional is a member of, and at which level. The DAC can be of help to them in this regard. Please also see the Historic England guidance for further information on accreditation.

Applications for DAC advice on the proposed choice of quinquennial inspector will be considered by the DAC at one of its regular meetings – please note the agenda closing dates (submission dates) for these meetings.

The completed forms, and any relevant supporting documents (e.g. inspector's CV, previous QI reports), should be:


Once appointed, the quinquennial inspector should confirm the details of their appointment (including fees) with the PCC in writing. It is recommended that the inspector completes the 'Draft letter of appointment' from Appendix 1 (page 8) of the Church of England guidance. This has been extracted for ease of access, and can be downloaded as an editable template:

Submitting QI reports

The quinquennial inspection report is one of the key documents which assists the PCC in the care and repair of a church building, for which it is legally responsible. It gives an overview of the repair needs of the building, and lists the repairs required by priority.

In accordance with the Diocesan Scheme (described above), the quinquennial inspector shall send, within 3 months of making the inspection, copies of the report in paper and digital format to the:

  • PCC of the parish in which the church is situated
  • incumbent or priest in charge
  • relevant Archdeacon (via the Archdeacon's PA)

A copy of the QI report is also required to be received by the DAC Secretary, but this will be procured internally from the respective Archdeacon's PA rather than from the inspector direct. As such, reports should not be sent to the DAC Office.

Please note that QI reports sent in digital format:

  • should preferably be submitted as a single PDF document and 5 MB or less (file size)
  • will be uploaded to the church's entry on the Church of England's Church Heritage Record (CHR) (report not publicly visible) by the Assistant DAC Secretary

Alternatively, there is an interactive QI report template within each church's entry on the CHR, which allows direct input of text and images by the inspector. The DAC recommends that this template is used, although reports submitted in a similar digital format which is compliant with the Diocesan Scheme and the Church of England guidance will be accepted. The CHR hosts a user manual on the interactive QI report template for inspectors and PCCs.

Getting help...

For further information or advice, please contact:

Giles Standing, DAC Secretary
01543 622540 giles.standing@lichfield.anglican.org
Imogen Campbell, Assistant DAC Secretary
01543 622569 imogen.campbell@lichfield.anglican.org

Page last updated: 13th January 2021 9:38 PM