Quinquennial inspections: why they are so important

Practice director Mike Darwell discusses the importance of the church quinquennial inspection and why a thorough inspection and well written report are vital for those responsible for the upkeep of church buildings.

JCA are inspecting architects at over 70 churches across the north of England which means that we pretty much always have church inspections to carry out.  Every five years, each Church of England church building is required by law to have an inspection carried out, known as a quinquennial inspection or QI for short.  The inspection should be carried out by a suitably qualified architect or surveyor and covers all aspects of the building’s external and internal fabric.  The QI is a chance to take stock of the building’s condition, reviewing what works were completed in the previous five years and identifying what works are required for the years ahead.  The site inspection, usually taking a full day at the church will look closely at roof coverings, rainwater goods, masonry, windows and doors.  All internal spaces are inspected and the condition of roof structures, ceilings, wall plaster, masonry walls and floors are inspected.  The church grounds are also inspected to determine condition of boundary walls, gates, paths, trees and grave markers.

The quinquennial inspection report should become a working tool for the building’s custodians and will provide a prioritised list of repairs and maintenance tasks that are required to keep the building in good condition.  Whilst the report will identify the various methods of repair that are available for any particular situation, it cannot be treated as a working specification and parochial church councils (PCCs) are always encouraged to discuss with us the report findings and recommendations so that a focussed and proper schedule of repairs can be produced if necessary.

JCA are passionate about church buildings and have a great deal of experience working with PCCs to help them plan for repair work and then oversee the delivery of projects large and small.  We realise that maintaining a church building is a time consuming and often expensive undertaking and we often donate considerable time to church projects in order to ensure they are well managed and delivered.  The importance of the quinquennial inspection cannot be understated and the report that follows it must be a thorough, cover all assessment of the building so that it can be referred to and relied on for the next five years of the church building’s life.  It should not be treated as a box ticking exercise with the report left to gather dust on a shelf or locked away in the vestry safe, instead it should be constantly referred to as the prioritised check list for all maintenance tasks and repairs.

The Churches Trust for Cumbria have produced a series of short videos that discuss many aspects of understanding and caring for churches and JCA were asked to take part in the video concerning the importance of the quinquennial inspection.  You can view the video here.

For further advice on quinquennial inspections and what the team at JCA can offer to church clients, please contact us by phone or email to discuss your requirements.