Summary guidance note
- Parishes may wish to start by consulting the Guidance for PCCs on quinquennial inspections of church buildings, which provides a summary to the detail and context given below
It is a statutory requirement for the following ecclesiastical buildings to be inspected at least once 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, under section 47 of the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and Care of Churches Measure 2018.
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 section 45 of the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and Care of Churches Measure 2018, which governs the inspection of ecclesiastical 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
New Diocesan Scheme
In accordance with this change in legislation, the Lichfield Diocesan Synod established a new Diocesan Scheme for the Inspection of Churches on 14th November 2020, and subsequently updated it on 29th June 2022, from which date that amended Scheme came into operation within the diocese.
PCCs and quinquennial inspectors should read the details of the amended Scheme, as these constitute diocesan requirements in addition to the legislation:
- Lichfield Diocesan Scheme for the Inspection of Churches (Amended 2022)
PCCs should also consult the following detailed Church of England guidance on QI surveys and reports, including the procurement and appointment of a quinquennial inspector:
Appointing a quinquennial inspector
The Church of England guidance (above) includes advice on the qualifications and experience a person needs to carry out inspections.
An inspector 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.
- Before starting an application for DAC advice, please see the diocesan guidance on appointing a quinquennial inspector, including details of the application process and timings
Quinquennial inspection 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.
- Before commissioning a QI report, please see the diocesan guidance on quinquennial inspection reports, including details of the new report format and submission timings
The quinquennial inspector should be willing to meet the PCC to go through the QI report recommendations. The inspector is likely to mention these at the time of the inspection and give guidance on how the problems can be addressed.
- After receiving a QI report, please see the diocesan guidance on quinquennial inspection reports, including details of the urgent repair needs of the church building
Subsequent repair works
Most repair items within the QI report will require advice either from the quinquennial inspector or a relevant professional of comparable experience, and for larger repair works a quantity surveyor (QS) may need to be consulted.
Once the PCC is able to put the identified works in hand, it is normal practice to instruct the quinquennial inspector or another suitably able professional, through a separate contract, to prepare a specification and seek tenders from contractors of suitable experience.
Any such work may be subject to separate contractual arrangements and fees beyond those agreed for the inspection.
Please note that the diocese does not have a list of approved contractors for church works. Instead, the PCC should consult its quinquennial inspector, as professional adviser, for advice on procuring and appointing suitable contractors.
Church Building Fund
Further to Diocesan Synod establishing a new Diocesan Scheme (above), the Lichfield Diocesan Board of Finance has created (in December 2020) a new fund to help parishes with costs of quinquennial inspections of their church buildings. The fund is known as the Church Building Fund, and is administered by the diocesan Finance Team (rather than the DAC officers).