Below is a A-Z listing of topics for property maintenance.  

If you are considering a bigger project, then please refer to the Starting a Property Project Page.  

As well, there is general guidance for the following topics:

If you need assistance finding a contractor, the Maintenance Booker from the National Churches Trust may be of assistance.  As well, the Building Conservation has information on craft skills, conservation products and specialist services.  


Access Audits

An access audit is a description of a business’ facilities and services to inform people with access needs and allow for a written, descriptive approach to providing a wide range of information on accessibility and differing needs.  An audit can be carried out by a professional, at cost, who will be able to add design guides, sketches and guidance notes, but it could also be done by a person with knowledge of the actual building and the relevant people who attend on a regular basis following a checklist. An access audit helps to meet our obligations under the Equality Act 2010.

The audit should cover all types of disability, wheelchair users are the most obvious, but they make up less than 8% of all disabled people in the UK.  Think about the other 92%, which includes fully ambulatory people as well as those with hearing, visual and mental impairments, pregnant mothers, people with pushchairs, the young and the elderly.

An access audit should contain a thorough, yet concise description of accessibility, from initial arrival to departure. There should be one for each separate building.  So you might consider using the following headings when conducting an access audit.


A brief introduction and should include what the building is:

  • Chapel, museum, church, etc.
  • Where it is situated; on a hill, or exposed place, in a noisy environment, city centre of countryside
  • A brief description of the specialist facilities available such as disabled toilets, ramps, hearing loops, large text books, etc.


  • Public transport links, including bus and train, distance from the stops
  • Type of pavement or journey from the stop to your building (pavement, exposed road, etc)
  • Vehicle routes, busy roads, local authority travel schemes and local accessible taxi schemes

Car Park and Arrival

  • Car park on site, on pavement or free
  • Disabled, blue badge, local authority ‘Brown Badge’ places and if payment is required
  • The Type of surface from car park to entrance level or slopped, tarmac or gravel, firm or uneven lighting in the car park area
  • Intercom or buzzer for assistance
  • Steps or level access to the entrance
  • Provided ramps; temporary or permanent
  • Entrance doors, width, weight, direction of opening, manual, automatic, revolving, if glass are they marked.

Entrance and Reception

  • Where is this situated, and how is it accessed (level, ramp, lift, escalator?)
  • Is the floor level, slopped or stepped? Is seating available? Floor surface, if carpet, what type of pile?
  • How is the area lit? Natural or artificial light (or combination), tube, spot and general lighting
  • Bear in mind different light conditions at different times of the day, or year
  • Height of any desks, counters, tables and bookshelves
  • Written signs, provided in different languages, large print, etc.
  • Assistance for carers Hearing loops
  • Other items to assist supplied such as magnifying glass, pen and paper, wheelchair loan, volunteers

Main Space 

  • Type of seating, access to pews, separate seating areas, chair availability, temporary requirements
  • Internal doors, width and weight
  • Corridor widths
  • Wheelchair areas Floor surface
  • Position of sunlight through windows
  • View of main participants
  • Means of interpretation; audio guide, subtitles, area colours, hearing loop
  • Books in large print,
  • Braille, pictograms or translations
  • Use of music and any flashing lights Acoustics Lighting of any displays and general lighting
  • ‘Surprise’ participants e.g. calling from the back, singing/music from balcony

Toilet Areas

  • Public facilities and location, inc. disabled toilets
  • Separate male/female
  • Disabled facilities, RADAR keys
  • Steps, ramps to WCs, any lift or escalator
  • Width of doors to the WCs, do they open out or in
  • Wheelchair or mobility aid access
  • Space to side of WC for mobility aid, how wide
  • Grab rails provided, fixed or drop
  • Height of the WC Pan from floor to seat
  • Alert for emergencies, who will respond, type of alert mechanism (ie red cord)
  • Lighting Floor surface
  • Height of sinks, hand drying facilities, type of taps on sinks

Grounds and gardens 

  • Describe any grounds, including burial grounds to which people have access, including the width of entrances
  • Are these areas flat, undulating or sloped
  • Width and surface of the footpaths
  • Available seating
  • Proximity to other necessary facilities

Means of Escape

  • Emergency exit routes
  • Alarms including flashing repeaters
  • Refuges and ‘evac’ chairs for upper floors Evacuation provisions including any Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans

Additional Information

  • Disability training given to staff and volunteers
  • Welcoming of assistance dogs, any facilities provided for these animals
  • Describe signage
  • Power points for charging of electrical mobility aids
  • Local accommodation
  • Local A&E Departments Local disability help group

Having conducted your audit, record and store so that it can be used as a guide when planning any special services or changes to the buildings.  It can also be given to parties who are planning any events such as a wedding, funeral, etc at your building so that they will be informed of the facilities, whilst allowing them to consider their guests.

In addition, the access audit will seek to find solutions to identified problems, with recommendations and relative cost.  Essential work will be that to comply with legislation or to remove major obstacles to access.  They might be categorised further: 

  • Those which are of a minor nature, or adjustments to practice or management at little or no cost
  • Those which can be provided as part of ongoing maintenance, refurbishment or redecoration.
  • Those which are major items which needs a specific budget

The Methodist Church has a hospitality audit which includes many of these questions and can be found here.  

Church House Publishing have a very useful guide entitled ‘Widening the Eye of the Needle’ (3rd Edition, 2008) which has comprehensive further reading.

If the audit identifies any deficiencies that need to be addressed then you may need to make an action plan to have a correction made.  It is incumbent on us to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ as a result of the audit.  However, this is not compulsory, but reasonable.  As an example, you wouldn’t need to remove all the pews to put in chairs to allow wheelchair access, when the congregation is small, the numbers of wheelchair users are small and removing or moving one or two pews would allow the wheelchairs to fit. If you had a level entrance to the side of a building, but steps to the front, a reasonable adjustment would be to make the side the disabled entrance and exit, but it would then be unreasonable to leave that door with a gravel or dirt path.

Planning Access Statements

By stating your intentions and objectives to make your building inclusive and accessible, you may be able to assist the passage of your project through statutory control bodies.  By preparing an Access Statement, any building owner or service provider will demonstrate that they have considered the access requirements of different people, and will have described how they intend to meet them. This commitment should also be passed on to any consultants and contractors working on the project, so that they too comply with their duties as service providers.

The Access to and Use of Buildings from the website also provides useful information.

Alcohol use on Methodist Property

Guidelines for districts and Connexional Property Committee
SO 922 - In general, the use of intoxicants on Methodist premises (and their advertisement or promotion) is prohibited. 

Non-alcoholic wine must be used in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.  The sale or use of alcoholic drinks is not permitted in that part of the relevant premises in which worship has been identified as the primary use. 

However, the lawful supply, sale or use of alcohol may be approved in the following way:
 the trustees must seek approval from the District Policy Committee

(For all other property, approval is required from the Connexional Property Committee) (further detailed guidance is provided in Standing Order 922)  

SO 922 (3A) states:
Clause (1) above shall not preclude the lawful supply, sale or use of alcoholic drinks on Methodist premises, (other than any part of the relevant premises in which worship has been identified by the trustees as the primary use) if:

(i) a significant part of the mission and activity of the Methodist Church carried out on the relevant premises involves use of the premises as a conference centre; 

(ii) such supply, sale or use is solely in connection with an event taking place on those premises as part of such use; and 

(iii) such supply, sale or use is with the consent of the trustees given for the specific event and subject to such conditions as they may prescribe. 

The intention is to ensure that the use of alcohol is within the context of a conference centre, which is integral to the trustees’ mission objectives.

Guidelines for DPCs and the Connexional Property Committee

Ask Managing Trustees to:

  • set out their mission aims 
  • state in what ways a conference centre would be integral to their mission 
  • show how the use of alcohol would enhance the conference centre in helping fulfil their mission. 


Annual Returns


Schedules A and C and their supplements (check lists) as well as Schedule D are now part of the ANNUAL RETURNS section of the Methodist Online Suite of Applications

Registration information and guidance documents can be accessed on the Online Suite guidance page

Guidance Notes for Annual Inspection can be found here.

It is a legal requirement (Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006) that the Managing Trustees have a “duty to manage” any risk from asbestos in church buildings and any other non-domestic premises.
The first stage is to prepare a risk assessment to determine whether asbestos is present in your buildings. If it is, there are only two options:
  1. High risk - the asbestos must be removed
  2. Low risk - it can be sealed and left in position, together with warning notices and possibly minor repair.

There has been some misunderstanding about the requirement for the initial survey and subsequent inspections of asbestos. The initial survey should be undertaken by a specialist who will prepare a formal report which should be kept in the church log book. It is then the Church Council as Managing Trustees who have the responsibility as ’duty holders‘ (Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006) to ’manage’ the ongoing risk.
The HSE guidance on the matter states: The duty to manage asbestos is contained in Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006. It requires the person who has the duty (ie the ‘duty holder’) to:

  • Take reasonable steps to find out if there are materials containing asbestos in non-domestic premises, and if so, the scale of the problem, where it is and what condition it is in; 
  • Presume materials contain asbestos unless there is strong evidence that they do not; 
  • Make, and keep up to date, a record of the location and condition of the asbestos containing materials (ACMs) or materials which are presumed to contain asbestos; 
  • Assess the risk of anyone being exposed to fibres from the ACMs; 
  • Prepare a plan that sets out in detail how the risks from these materials will be managed; 
  • Take the necessary steps to put the plan into action; 
  • Periodically review and monitor the plan and the arrangements to act on it so that the plan remains relevant and up to date;
  • Provide information on the location and condition of the materials to anyone who is liable to work on or disturb them.  
There is also a requirement on anyone to cooperate as far as is necessary to allow the duty holder to comply with the above requirements.
In the case of Methodist churches, the duty holder is the Church Council as Managing Trustees, having clear responsibility for the maintenance or repair of the premises. 
What premises are affected?
The duty to manage covers all non-domestic premises.  Such premises include all industrial, commercial or public buildings such as factories, warehouses, offices, shops, hospitals and schools.
Manses are also included by reason that the responsibility for maintenance and repair rests with the Circuit Meeting, with the incumbent treated as a ‘tenant’ under the act.  Under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, we do not have a duty to manage asbestos risks in private houses, manses, individual flats, private rooms above churches, rooms let to lodgers or domestic garages let to a specific tenant.
However, the situation is not quite that simple for two reasons - responsibility for common areas and the existence of other relevant health and safety legislation.

The duty to manage asbestos applies to the common areas of purpose built flats and houses converted into flats, such as foyers, corridors, staircases, roof spaces, gardens, lifts and lift-shafts.  Similarly, it applies to the stairs and access areas of flats above or attached to churches and other similar premises.  It would also apply to an area used for temporary accommodation of visitors, such as a Christmas centre for rough sleepers (but not to private visitors of the occupier) and to any ‘Houses in Multiple Occupancies’, that is any properties which are let or tenanted to two or more people who do not form a single family unit.

We can be responsible for the repair of premises or equipment in these areas and will be regarded as the duty holder.  As such, we will be responsible for carrying out a survey to identify any asbestos containing materials in the property, drawing up a management plan and informing contractors / tradesmen about the presence of asbestos before they undertake any work.
Asbestos can be found in a wide range of items in domestic properties, including ceiling tiles, insulating board, pipe insulation, sprayed and textured coatings, cement, fire doors and wall cladding.  It is often difficult to identify, so to ensure we comply with the regulations, we should assume asbestos is present in any property that was built or underwent major refurbishment work between 1950 and 1999.
Not all the asbestos containing materials identified will need to be removed, but it is sensible to seek advice from an asbestos specialist about whether or not they are safe and what steps need to be taken before any type of work is done to the property.

Other Relevant Health and Safety Legislation

One thing all residential landlords need to be aware of is the Defective Premises Act 1972, which requires reasonable care to ensure that tenants and visitors are safe from personal injury and illness caused by the condition of the premises.

Although asbestos is not specifically mentioned it is covered by the Act, which applies to all domestic properties - including those even where there is no specific duty to manage under the Control of Asbestos Regulations.

The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 requires all rented property to be fit for human habitation at the beginning of the tenancy and further requires the landlord to maintain that basic standard.  Any property that features asbestos containing materials that are in an unsafe condition may not comply with the Act.  Under this act, section 8 ‘property’ includes ‘a part of a house, and any yard, garden, outhouses and appurtenances belonging to the house or usually enjoyed with it.’

Further, when we employ staff (including volunteers) to look after the properties, we also need to ensure compliance with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.  This includes a general obligation for employers to conduct their activities in such a way that workers are not exposed to health and safety risks, such as asbestos.

While trying to identify which pieces of legislation apply to any particular rented property may be a little confusing, ensuring compliance with all the regulations is more straightforward.  If we ensure that we follow expert advice and best practice for asbestos management, we ensure a safe environment for tenants and workers, as well as making certain we minimise any legal problems. 

The Health & Safety Executive produces comprehensive information about asbestos.  
Here are some basic principles to remember:
  • Asbestos is only dangerous when disturbed. If it is safely managed and contained, it doesn’t present a health hazard. 
  • Don’t remove asbestos unnecessarily; removing it can be more dangerous than leaving it in place and managing it. 
  • Not all asbestos materials present the same risk. The measures that need to be taken for controlling the risks from materials such as pipe insulation are different from those needed in relation to asbestos cement. 
  • Don’t assume you need to bring in a specialist in every case (for example, you can inspect your own building rather than employ a surveyor).  But are you competent to be able to identify the various types of asbestos that might be present - either as a pipe insulation or hidden as a constituent material within a product (such as floor tiling, paint, etc)? And do you know what level of hazard is associated with each type? 
  • If you are unsure about whether certain materials contain asbestos, you should presume they do and treat them as such. 
  • Remember that 'the duty to manage' is all about putting in place the practical steps necessary to protect maintenance workers and others from the risk of exposure to asbestos fibres. It is not about removing all asbestos.

If any ACMs need to be sealed, encapsulated or removed, remember you will need to employ a licensed contractor if the materials are high risk (eg pipe insulation and asbestos insulating panels).

If the materials are lower risk (eg asbestos cement), then an unlicensed but competent contractor may carry out this work.

How do duty holders comply?
Find - you must check if materials containing asbestos are present or are liable to be present;

Condition - you must check what condition the material is in;
Presume - you must assume the material contains asbestos unless you have strong evidence that it does not; 
Identify - if you are planning to have maintenance or refurbishment of the building carried out or the material is in poor condition, you may wish to arrange for the material to be sampled and identified by a specialist;
Record - record the location and condition of the material on a plan or drawing;
Assess  - you must decide if the condition or the location means the material is likely to be disturbed; 
Plan -  prepare and implement a plan to manage these risks.
Further details of these steps can be found in the downloadable file, A Short Guide to Managing Asbestos: 
Managing Trustees should also bear in mind that a risk assessment is needed in order to satisfy the conditions of your insurance policy.
We realise that these regulations may be imposing a considerable additional burden on local churches, but the government now believes that asbestos poses such a danger to health that it considers a risk assessment to be essential. 
Burial Ground Maintenance

Maintenance of Burial Grounds: Guidance

Who is responsible for them?

Until a burial ground is disposed of (rather than closed), the Managing Trustees of the Church to which it belongs remain responsible for it.  This may be the Circuit Meeting rather than the Church Council, if trusteeship has been delegated or the local church has ceased worship.  In any case, it is important to keep a record of whose care it is in.  

Individual 'plots' within the ground are the responsibility of the plot owner, or their successor in title.  However, where the owner cannot be traced, usually due to the length of time, then it falls again to the Managing Trustees.

Why does this matter?

There is no denying that care of a burial ground can be costly and onerous.  That being said, the consequences of chronic neglect are often much worse.

Keeping a burial ground neat and tidy will prevent alienation of the community (a potential source of support), as well as vandalism and anti-social behaviour from taking place on the site.  Sensitivity to relatives of the deceased will encourage further burials and help to manage reputational risk.

Practical Tips

  • It is important to have in place a long term plan outlining the maintenance requirements of the burial ground in question.  This may include grass cutting, planting and upkeep of flowers, care of trees and shrubs and maintenance of boundary and internal walls, gates and fences.  Health and safety concerns should be paramount and a risk management approach must be taken.
  • Other denominations have had some success in recruiting ‘Friends of,’ groups of volunteers to help maintain the grounds.  The National Federation of Cemetery Friends offers guidance on setting up such groups.
  • Where a burial ground is an eyesore or poses a particular risk, consider hiring a local person to do the work if practicable.  In either case, ultimate responsibility for the burial ground will still rest with the Managing Trustees.  Some organisations, such as the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management, provide training courses in burial ground management.
  • Other denominations in rural areas recommend keeping sheep or goats on the grounds to keep grass trimmed.  If so, Managing Trustees may require a licence (often free) and health and safety concerns (the risk of escape, flowers placed by graves being eaten, etc.) must be borne in mind.
  • Responsibility for the maintenance of burial grounds can be transferred to Local Authorities under the Open Spaces Act 1906.  Unlike for Anglican Burial Grounds, this is completely discretionary: indeed, the Church has unsuccessfully lobbied on this in the past.  Even so, it is not unheard of and may be more likely in areas that are lacking other community spaces.
  • Ensure that burial grounds are considered as part of quinquennial inspections.   Ask your Surveyor to comment on their general state, as well as the safety of monuments, boundary walls, fences and trees.  Ensure that s/he can identify Japanese Knotweed.
  • If maintenance of the burial ground may not be feasible in the long term, consider preventing further burials on the site.  This will simplify matters if the burial ground is eventually disposed of or sold by way of the grant of a long lease. Gently inform relatives of the deceased of the possible repercussions of choosing to bury their loved one in a Methodist burial ground.  They must be made aware that the Church is generally not legally obliged to accommodate their wishes, even where their family members are also buried there.
  • If Managing Trustees do see fit to allow further burials, it is vital that a careful record is kept of who is buried where.

Other sources

Please note that the law which applies to Methodist Burial Grounds differs from the law in respect of Anglican cemeteries. 

This guidance note is no substitute for seeking legal advice.  
June 2019

Burial Grounds - Closing and/or Disused
Burial grounds can cause a great amount of anxiety for a local church or circuit, as well as for people who live near the burial ground.
For information on maintaining burial grounds and health and safety questions, please refer to the Ministry of Justice website. .uk/coroners-burial-cremation/burials
This  guidance seeks to highlight the options that are available if a burial ground has been closed and is disused. The key time that this guidance is likely to be considered is when there is no longer space for further burials or if the local church has ceased worship. It might be that the local church wants to make more use of the burial ground for outside space or the circuit is looking to sell a redundant chapel, and therefore turning the burial ground into amenity land might help a sale.
It should firstly be appreciated that any changes in a burial ground can be contentious and can cause distress to those who have relatives buried in the grounds or to those who just live locally.  Any proposed changes to the use and landscape of the burial ground will therefore need to be dealt with sensitivity.
If a burial ground has closed by decision of the managing trustees or the chapel has closed under SO 943, the managing trustees being either the Church Council, Circuit meeting or body that has been delegated trusteeship remains responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the burial ground until it is sold.
The local authority can be approached about taking on the maintenance under the Open Spaces Act 1906 but local authorities are often unwilling to take on responsibility for the upkeep of the burial ground given the cost implications.
It is possible to sell a burial ground with the chapel (where it is being sold or it can be sold separately).  If the chapel and burial ground are being sold together and the Managing Trustees are not retaining any land, then the normal course is that a burial ground will only be disposed of by way of a long-term lease to the purchaser. 
This helps to ensure that the Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes (TMCP) can: 
  • Enforce the covenants placed on the land. 
  • The history of the land as a burial ground continues to be recognised.
  • Ensure that a purchaser indemnifies the church against any future activities it undertakes.
    Methodist burial grounds are not consecrated and therefore the legislation and rules that apply to Anglican cemeteries do not apply to Methodist burial grounds. The relevant legislation when a burial ground has closed and is no longer used is the Disused Burial Ground (Amendment) Act 1981.
Closing a burial ground
Methodist burial grounds fall into the category of ‘Private’ under the Burial Ground Acts and therefore can be closed by a resolution passed locally.  The managing trustees needs to consider whether to close all the burial ground or leave parts open where plots have already been purchased for future burials.
If the managing trustees wish to close all or part of the burial ground then they should pass a formal resolution authorising the action and then publish the fact in the local press and on the church door or at the entrance to the burial ground. The notice should also set out the proposals for the burial ground, such as moving headstones, which is covered in more detail below.
Moving headstones
 If the managing trustees want to consider landscaping a burial ground in order to use the space for amenity land, the process set out in the Schedule to the Disused Burial Ground (Amendment) Act 1981 must be followed. A copy of the act can be found at:
Before making any changes to the burial ground, a plan should be prepared. This should note the place of all graves and inscriptions on each headstone – ideally accompanied with photographs. This plan and any accompanying records should be stored safely in the local church or circuit safe
Before moving headstones, memorials or tombstones, a notice must be served in the local newspaper for at least two successive weeks and a copy of the notice placed in a prominent place by the burial ground. It is important to remember that monuments and tombstones belong to the family of the deceased and not the local church and they must be given the chance to object.
For Commonwealth War Graves, a notice must also be served on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The notice must be served on any personal representatives or relatives of those interred within the last 25 years who can be contacted through reasonable enquiries. A period of at least six weeks should be provided for objections and representations to be received but good practice would dictate that only two months after the notices were given.
The schedule to the act sets out in Paragraph 2 the details that must be specified in the notice.
Once notice has been provided and any objections have been withdrawn or dealt with, the headstones or memorials can be moved. Memorials, headstones and tombstones should ideally only be moved to the side of a burial ground.  If it is necessary to remove the headstones or memorials completely and no objections have been received, then the memorial or headstone should be completely broken up before being disposed of and any relatives should be informed of this intention before doing so. Any disposals should be dealt with sensitively.  If memorials are removed from the burial ground a record of the date and manner of the removal as well as details of the memorial must be sent to the local authority and Registrar General.  Old burial registers should also be preserved and they can be lodged in the public archives if necessary.
Building on a burial ground or rendering a grave inaccessible
It is illegal to build on a burial ground unless notice has been served on all the personal representatives or relatives of those buried within the last 50 years, no objections have been received and all the human remains have been removed and reinterred or cremated. This applies whenever a Church proposes building on a burial ground or undertaking action that will render a grave inaccessible, eg hard surfacing to create a car park or a play area.
The process set out in the schedule of the act should be followed. In this instance notice will be served on those relatives and personal representatives buried within the last 50 years.
Before any human remains are removed, a licence from the Secretary of State must be obtained. The relatives or the Commonwealth War Graves Commission can organise for the remains to be removed and reinterred or cremated but the local church will need to cover their reasonable costs.
Before building on the burial ground or doing anything that would potentially disturb the human remains or render the grave inaccessible, all human remains must first be removed and reinterred or cremated. If removal and re-interment is not undertaken by the relatives, then the managing trustees will need to organise this in accordance with the Act and any directions in the licence from the Secretary of State.
Further guidance on exhuming human remains can be found on the Ministry of Justice website:. .uk/coroners-burial-cremation/burials 
Within two months of the removal, reinterment or cremation, a certificate should be sent to the Registrar General and the General Register Office with details of the removal and re-interment. The exact details to be provided can be found in Paragraph 8 of the Schedule to the Act.
Listed buildings

 Where a church is a listed building, it is possible that the memorials and headstones in an adjoining burial ground also fall within the listing. You should therefore speak with the conservation officer based at Support Services in Manchester before making any proposals for the burial ground.
For further information please look at guidance from The Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes  (TMCP) 
 Tel 0161 235 6770 

Church Organ Advisory Service

The Organ Advisory Service is often met with the statement, “Oh – we did not contact you because we thought you were only interested in pipe organs!”
While it is true that they encourage churches to consider a pipe organ as their first option (especially if the church already has one), it does not mean that they are unwilling (or unable) to help if the Church Council has decided upon an electronic alternative.
Manufacturers, importers and stockists of electronic organs all quite naturally want to offer their advice to select an instrument from the range being offered. Whilst a few may just apply gentle persuasion, others can be more forceful. These may range from the local music retailer who has the ‘unrepeatable bargain’ to international companies who may employ quite aggressive marketing techniques.
Within the Methodist Organ Advisory Service there is the knowledge and expertise to give informed, impartial, advice, not only concerning selection and purchase, but also maintenance prospects as no electric, electronic or digital equipment is ‘maintenance-free.'

  • How soon can we reasonably expect attention in the event of a breakdown?
  • What is likely to be the cost of a ‘post-guarantee’ maintenance contract and what are its long- term expectations?

Churches are strongly advised to avoid electronic organs of the ‘entertainment’ style, ie those that have 2 short, ‘staggered’ keyboards and 13 short pedals. These instruments are only really designed for those musical styles where one plays the melody with the right hand, chord patterns with the left and a single bass note with the left foot. While such an instrument can be adequate for the playing of popular melodies and some worship songs, it is most unsatisfactory for the playing of standard hymns, and impossible for the performance of any part of the organ repertoire.
Although more expensive, an organ with two full-size keyboards and a standard pedal board will make it possible to play hymns, worship songs, standard organ repertoire and everything else – including entertainment music, if required.
Be advised also that the life of an electronic organ can be limited, with electronic and digital components requiring replacement, often at a cost in excess of the original instrument.  With regular maintenance and tuning, a pipe organ can have a life considerably in excess of any electronic substitute, although it is recognised that the space requirements for a pipe organ are greater.  Churches should make their own enquiries with regard to maintenance costs to ensure that best value is obtained. The Organ Advisory Service can be contacted through: Malcolm Starr on or telephone on 01400 281 291. 

CO2 / Smoke Detector

Please contact the Connexional Property Coordinator.

Demolition and Deconstruction
There may come a time when consideration is being given to the deconstruction, demolition or partial demolition of any building and the following notes may be useful.
Demolition is the tearing down of buildings and other man-made structures. Demolition contrasts with deconstruction, which involves taking a building apart while carefully preserving valuable elements for reuse, repurposing, recycling and waste management purposes. It should be noted that any demolition of a Methodist building should first start with an appraisal of any elements such as monuments, glass, woodwork or items of heritage that should be carefully removed and stored for reuse, if possible.
Deconstruction is commonly separated into two categories; structural and non-structural. Nonstructural deconstruction, also known as “soft-stripping”, consists of reclaiming non-structural components, appliances, doors, windows, and finish materials. The reuse of these types of materials is commonplace and considered to be a mature market. Structural deconstruction involves dismantling the structural components of a building. Traditionally this had only been performed to reclaim expensive or rare materials such as used brick, dimension (natural) rock or stone, and extinct woods.
In the UK, it is usual for companies involved in this type of work to be called ‘Demolition Companies’ and so we will use that term, although we acknowledge that deconstruction is probably more accurate and in keeping with the report and study guide ‘Hope in God’s Future’, with proper planning, careful handling and a green approach to the removal of materials it is possible to achieve a landfill diversion rate of above 90%.
Important considerations around demolition There are two types of demolition – complete or partial removal. Complete demolition involves the removal of all traces of the building above ground. This process is common and easily achieved by a competent demolition company. Partial demolition is trickier as support will be required for the remaining structure, which may include window strutting, floor props and shoring. It may also involve a lot of additional planning and effort as powered equipment may be unsuitable.
You must inform your local authority (England and Wales) in writing at least six weeks in advance of your intention to demolish (the building control department usually deals with demolitions). In Scotland, you must have a demolition warrant prior to starting. Utilities providers and adjacent or adjoining building owners must also be informed in advance, especially if party walls will be affected. Some buildings do not require notification such as: 
  • Buildings under 1750 cubic feet / 50 cubic metres 
  • Temporary buildings, standing for no more than 28 days 
  • Attached greenhouses, prefabricated garages, conservatories or sheds
  • Detached agricultural buildings

However, prior to demolition you should check with your local authority to ensure compliance with any local by-laws. This is particularly pertinent for properties in the Scotland District, which require a warrant, and those in the Island districts, where you must consult your local authority as regulations differ.

If you are looking to demolish a Methodist property, you will need to create a project on the Property Consent website ( to apply for consent.  Further guidance is given within the Property Consents Help and Guidance pages:

Any work on a listed building or in a conservation area should be notified to the Conservation Officer ( as soon as possible. 

Pre-demolition requirements
The local authority will specify pre-demolition requirements, which may include shoring, protection of adjacent buildings against damage, collapse or water damage, debris-disposal and safety measures. 
Detailed survey
As a managing trustee, you are expected to seek professional advice for all medium to large-scale projects. You should therefore commission a report from a structural engineer to assess the method of demolition and carry out a detailed survey that should include the impact of removing parts of the structure and the effect of demolition on neighbouring properties. 
The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM) apply. This results in Health and Safety duties being transferred to the designer, contractor, and site workers. More information is available on the HSE website ( 
Experienced contractors
Use an experienced contractor as demolition is skilled and potentially dangerous work. 
Be aware of asbestos, you should commission a pre-demolition asbestos survey even if you have had a negative asbestos survey previously, then, if required, employ a specialist contractor to remove any asbestos materials from site before demolition starts, or ensure your demolition contractor has such expertise upon which they can call. 
Salvage materials
As noted above, always think about salvaging materials and components such as bricks, tiles, slates and timber.
Document Retention

“For how long should we keep copies of documents (quinquennial inspection reports and the like)?”
This is a question often asked by those District and Circuit Officers whose storage capacities are limited. There does not appear to be any formal policy on the matter, but officers should be mindful of the Standing Order SO 903 Care of Deeds and ‘other’ documents (which imply that all QIRs should be retained, as it speaks in the plural); 941, 954 (viii; ix), and 966.
The log book also has to record QIRs. The considered view is that QIR and other property documents will need to be kept for at least the period set out in the Limitation Act (latent damages), since it is possible that a church may wish to prove that a professional may have given negligent advice.
From a practical and prudent aspect, district officers should retain the most up-to date records and those records where they are still valid within the Limitation Act. When there is a system in place whereby this information is stored online, this will not be a problem.
It has further been suggested that not everything requires retention. The originator of the document (the QI inspector) and the circuit (in the case of manses) should keep the records. However, the present QIR and the previous one are probably sufficient to allow comparisons to be made.
Guidelines for retaining records - 

Eco Survey

Managing Trustees should consider the Methodist Conference 2009 report, Hope in God’s Future: Christian Discipleship in the Context of Climate Change, and respond accordingly .

Useful guidance and examples can be found on the  Environment and Climate Change page and some helpful links can be found here

A list of issues that could be considered in an environmental audit (by no means an exhaustive list):   Yes  No Intend to do within the next  12 months

1.0 Carbon footprint
Have you worked out your carbon footprint?

It can be an interesting exercise to work out your own ‘carbon footprint’, ie the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) you emit into the atmosphere annually (carbon dioxide being the primary problem in global warming). 
Full details including calculations can be found on  Although this calculator is intended for you as an individual, rather than your church, you may find it helpful.
The UK government aspires to reduce CO2 emissions by 34% by 2020 – something in which we all need to play a part. 80% of CO2 emissions are from industrialised countries.
Are you trying to reduce the amount of your ‘footprint’?


2.2 Investigate use of renewable energy (see information leaflet on renewable energy):

Solar collectors to provide water heating (probably the best option) 

Micro-generation (whereby electricity generated from renewable sources is fed back into the national grid, and you are reimbursed accordingly by the electricity company)?

Photovoltaic panels – see the Technical Guidance sheet for specific requirements – planning, lease documentation etc.


2.3 Lighting

Have you fitted energy-efficient lighting units where possible and explored the latest options?

  • Energy-efficient lighting units are more expensive but last up to 8 times longer; use much less electricity (as little as 20% compared to traditional bulbs) and are available in a variety of designs.

Do you ensure unnecessary lighting is switched off?

  • Use ‘please switch off the lights’ labels 
  • Use time-delay switches, or movement sensitive sensors for lighting

2.4 Heating

Have you:

  • Ensured that room thermostats are properly adjusted and are in suitable locations?
  • Replaced outdated boilers (many older gas boilers are only 50% efficient or less; new condensing boilers are 80% - 90% efficient)?
  • Fitted thermostatic radiator valves to all radiators? 
  • Installed different heating zones to ensure that only parts of the church (eg a meeting room) need to be heated rather than the whole building  
  • Installed more sophisticated heating controls, eg seven-day programmers and electronic programmers which are accurate to the minute (older programmers are sometimes accurate to only a couple of hours)  
  • Ensured that your annual service contract includes comment/discussion about energy issues

2.5 Insulation

Have you: 

  • Insulated all loft spaces, above accessible ceilings etc, with up to 200mm of insulation (take care: obtain advice from an architect or surveyor to ensure adequate ventilation to prevent condensation, check that electricity cables are suitable protected, etc) 
  • Insulated hot and cold water pipes, where passing through unheated spaces 
  • Fitted draught seals around all external doors and windows, also between heated and unheated rooms (ensure that seals do not make it difficult for elderly people and children to open doors) 
  • Provided draught lobbies to entrance doors which are likely to be opened on a regular basis during the use of the building (to minimise heat loss) 
  • Added insulation below suspended floors (but ensure adequate ventilation) 
  • Installed cavity wall insulation; solid walls (generally those built before 1930) can have insulation added to the inside face, but this must be carefully designed to avoid condensation occurring (in housing, about 35% of the heat loss is through walls)

2.6 Double glazing

If you are considering double glazing, please having regard to the following: 

Unless your church is used for several hours every day, double-glazing is unlikely to be cost effective. 

Double-glazing will reduce draughts, but is unlikely to save any appreciable energy. 

UPVC is not an environmentally suitable material (see below-timber is better). 

Most double-glazing frames need very careful design to be visually suitable for churches.

Most double-glazing units last only 15 to 20 years, after which expensive renewal will probably be required.

2.7 Bulk Energy Purchase
Have you considered negotiating bulk energy purchase, which can result in considerable savings? 

3.0  Building Work  (the building industry is responsible for around 40% of total UK CO2 emissions)

Check with your architect or surveyor: 

  • To ensure that the design brief includes for an energy and environmental audit 
  • To ensure that materials are from a sustainable source where possible: several products – eg timber – are now marked with approved schemes 
  • To use materials from a local source, and which support local industry 
  • To avoid materials that require energy-intensive industrial production, eg aluminium and steel 
  • To try and avoid situations where the use of sustainable materials (eg timber) involves the consumption of energy by having to be transported over long distances). 
  • To use recycled materials where possible 
  • To use water-based paints (now usually also suitable for external use) 
  • To try and avoid chemical treatments for woodworm, dry rot and damp-proof courses (alternative solutions are often now available). 



4.0 Fair-trade products

Do you use fairly traded food and other products? (The Fairtrade Foundation, Traidcraft and Tearcraft often have local reps who can come and talk to a local church) 


5.0 Cleaning materials

Many cleaning materials contain dangerous chemicals – do you try and use ‘green’ products? 


7.0 Waste and Recycling

Do you: 

  • Recycle as much glass, paper and plastic as possible? 
  • Use recycled paper? 
  • Use electronic communication (eg emails) rather than letters and envelopes?
  • Reuse plastic bags when possible – avoid being given new ones while shopping? 
  • Avoid disposable cups and plates etc (for ensure they are recycled)?
  • Try to compost vegetable waste?
  • Avoid care journeys to recycling sites? 
  • Use rainwater from downpipes for watering soft landscaping; avoiding mains water where possible?
  • Use rainwater harvesting for flushing WCs?
  • Remember that water from wash basins etc can sometimes be recycled and used as ‘grey’ water for flushing WCs.

8.0 External areas (churchyards etc)

Do you have an ecological policy for these areas, eg: 

  • No use of pesticides 
  • Encourage wildlife, etc 
  • Have a compost area (see also ‘waste’ section earlier)

9.0 Communication and PR

Many people are now concerned about climate change and environmental issues –

  • Do you publicise what you do to help the environment?
  • Do you put information in your church magazine, discuss issues in junior church, and contact the local newspaper?

10.0 Transport

This is one of the most difficult areas to tackle, particularly for older people and in rural areas.  Do you try to: 

  • Avoid the use of cars – or share car journeys? 
  • Travel by public transport or cycle – even better, walk?
  • Avoid or rearrange meetings where people have to travel by car from a wide area?

Transport is the only sector of the UK economy where CO2 emissions have risen over the last 15 years; the average emission per car per year is nearly 2 tonnes of CO2.


 Resources and references

Methodist Church:

Church of England:

Operation Noah website:

 Low Carbon Buildings grant programme: tel helpline: 0800 915 7722

Electrical - Inspections and Checking

Everyone should be aware that electrical installations need to be checked from time to time to ensure that they are safe. The following comments are intended to help Managing Trustees understand the position – but, as always, please remember that it is essential that trustees keep abreast of changes and obtain independent professional advice whenever necessary (the architect or surveyor who carries out your quinquennial inspections should be able to advise you further).  The legal and technical information should always be consulted for full details.

It is important to remember the distinction between the electrical installation (Item 1 below), and portable electrical appliances (Item 2), which are covered by different regulations.

From January 2005, electrical work in manses (i.e. domestic property) has been subject to Building Regulations consent – Approved Document P (Electrical Safety).  The current addition was published in 2010 and revised in 2013 and can be found here.

1. Electrical installations 

The Institute of Electrical Engineers Wiring Regulations, which have been adopted as a British Standard, require that all fixed installations be tested for safety at least once every 5 years (unless they fall into the categories below).  Although this is not a mandatory document, it is normally a requirement of insurance policies and Health & Safety risk assessments that recommendations in this document are followed. 

Installations should also be tested and examined after major rewiring or alterations to the installation. 

A competent person registered with an electrical self-certification scheme authorised by the Secretary of State should carry out these tests. The professional bodies which currently authorises who are registered electricians for domestic electrical work are: 

They will provide:

  • A written report Periodic Inspection Report for an Electrical Installation. 
  • The certificate, test results schedule and inspection report, as applicable, should all be kept with the log-book.
  • State when the electrical installation should next be tested and examined. 

The table below provides guidance on the frequency of formal inspections of electrical installations as well as routine checks.

Type of installation  Routine check Maximum period
between inspections and testing

(see notes below)


Change of occupancy / yearly 5 years 1

Church installations

1 year 5 years (Quinquennially) 2

Village halls /
Community centres

1 year 5 years 1,2

Emergency lighting

Daily / monthly 3 years 2,3,4

Fire alarms

 Daily / weekly / monthly 1 year 2,4,5

Reference key

  1. Particular attention must be taken to comply with the Electricity Safety, Quality and Continuity Regulations 2002 (S.I. 2002/2665). 
  2. S1 1988 N0 635 The Electricity at Work Regulations. 
  3. See BS5266: Part 1: 1988 Code of practice for the emergency lighting. 
  4. Other intervals are recommended for testing operation of batteries and generators. 
  5. See BS 5839 Part 1: 2013 Fire detection and fire alarm systems for buildings and Code of practice for design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of systems in non-domestic premises

Please note: 
After testing the above installations the competent person may determine the maximum period between inspections should be less than those stated.

The ‘routine check’ should be carried out by someone who is competent to understand the electrical system, but need not be electrically skilled. The check should look for any wear and deterioration, missing parts, correct labelling, security of enclosures and operation of test buttons etc.  Notes about this ‘routine check’ should be included in the log book.
2. Portable electrical equipment

The following guidance has been prepared by the Health and safety Executive ( in order to help employers and the self employed comply with the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989:

What is Portable Electrical Equipment? 

Generally any piece of electrical equipment which has a plug fitted, e.g. kettles, heaters, computers, photocopiers, extension leads. 

What does the law require me to do? 

The law requires portable electrical equipment to be operated and maintained in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions. This includes adhering to the guidance on testing and examination. Further information can be found in the following Health and Safety Executive document: 

Do I need to have every piece of electrical equipment electrically tested? 

Not every piece of equipment requires testing. A simple and inexpensive system for looking for visual signs of damage or faults will control most of the electrical risks. However, some appliances (refer to practical guidance) may require more thorough testing such as earth bond, continuity, insulation, earth leakage and flash testing. 

What can I do? 
The appliance should be switched off before looking for signs of:

  • damage, e.g. cuts or abrasion to cable leads 
  • damage to the plug (e.g. casing cracks or bent pins) 
  • on-standard joints e.g. twisted taped joints or leads badly extended 
  • the outer covering (sheath of cable not being gripped where it enters the plug or the equipment, i.e. where the internal wires are showing) 
  • damage to the outer cover of the equipment, loose or missing parts. Any damaged or suspected faulty equipment should be taken out of service until it has been suitably repaired or replaced. 

Who can carry out the testing? 

Any qualified electrician can carry out these tests – e.g. an approved contractor from the electrical self-certification scheme (see (1) above). 

How would I be able to demonstrate to the Environment Directorate that I have complied with the law? 

Your copies of test certificates and records would verify this, and may prove crucial in the event of an inspection or litigation. 

Practical guidance: suggested initial intervals

Equipment/environment  User checks Formal visual inspections Combined inspection and testing
Battery operated: (less than 20 Volts No No No
Extra low voltage: (less than 50 volts AC e.g. telephone, low voltage desk lights No No No
Information technology, e.g. desktop computers, VDU screens. No Yes, 2-4 years No, if double insulated otherwise up to 5 years
Photocopiers, fax machines, rarely moved No Yes, 2 - 4 years No, if double insulated otherwise up to 5 years
Double insulated equipment: NOT hand held. Moved occasionally, e.g. fans, table lamps, projectors No Yes, 2 - 4 years No
Double insulated equipment: HAND-HELD e.g. some floor cleaners Yes Yes, 6 months to 1 year No
Earthed equipment (Class 1): e.g. electric kettles, toasters Yes Yes, 6 months to 1 year Yes, 1 - 2 years
Cables (leads) and plugs connected to the above. Extension leads (mains voltage) Yes Yes, 6 months to 4 years depending on the type of equipment it is connected Yes, 1 - 5 years depending on the type of equipment it is connected


You should also check any requirements in your insurance policy, Methodist Insurance produce several guidance notes – tel: 0161 833 9698. 

Electrical Services - General

The Legal Position

All places of worship are covered by the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989. They state that any installation that complies with the IEE Wiring Regulations, BS7671, will be deemed to comply with the Electricity at Work Regulations. These are basic guidelines intended for trustees to make available to specifiers and electrical contractors to help in the preparation of tenders, specifications and proposals for new electrical installations, alterations, routine maintenance or minor works to churches. 

Only registered approved members of NICEIC, ECA, or NAPIT should be employed to carry out new installations, alterations, maintenance, and minor works. Only the highest standard of workmanship should be allowed. Operatives should be skilled tradesmen, who are aware of the community, historic and architectural importance of our buildings.  They should be particularly made aware of any uses that are outside the ‘norm’ for a church.  Such uses would include, and this is not an exhaustive list, any overnight accommodation, use as schools, especially those that cater for pre-school children, any water based activities and use by the elderly, especially those suffering dementia.

Existing Electrical Installations 

The electrical installation should be fully tested and inspected every five years in accordance with BS7671 (IEE regulations guidance Note No 3) by a registered NICEIC, ECA, or NAPIT contractor. The inspection certificate/report should be held in the church log book.

  • Code 1 defects -  (definition - ‘adversely affects the safety level of the installation’) arising from the inspection, MUST RECEIVE IMMEDIATE ATTENTION.
  • Code 2 defects (definition - ‘requires improvement’) should be attended to as soon as possible. 

Installations over five years old should also be subject to annual routine checks. 
New Installation Works 

1. General

New installations or alterations require a project through the consents website and the relevant approvals. Minor maintenance or replacement work may be permitted under CPD 930. All work must be carried out in accordance with BS7671 (IEE regulations latest edition including amendments).

It is advisable for the church architect to be involved at an early stage, so that any installation undertaken involves minimal disturbance of the fabric of the building and is aesthetically appropriate.

Any work on a listed building or building in a conservation area will require consent and advice should be taken at an early stage from the Conservation Officer based in Manchester.
2. Lighting Installation

A lighting system should be designed to provide: 

  • Sufficient general lighting to enable users of the building to read and follow the Service, as well as move about without health and safety risks. 
  • Feature lighting to enhance the architecture.
  • Good flexibility of control to match the activity or mood to the visual environment. It is also essential, when planning an installation, to consider the prospective use of the building, the possible wider community use, and to have efficiency, maintenance, and energy conservation firmly in mind.
  • Discharge lamps (metal halide or high pressure sodium) are highly energy efficient and reliable over long periods of time. They provide an excellent spread of light, therefore suitable for providing general illumination, from fewer fittings compared to any other lighting source. 
  • Halogen based lamps are available in a variety of types which can be used for many different applications, and would be suitable for spot lighting, or providing contrasting emphasis. 
  • LED (light emitting diodes) lamp technology has progressed, making this very compact, durable, lighting source suitable for discreet feature lighting, with extremely low energy consumption. 
  • The secret of a good lighting system is to be able to control it. Dimmer control can have dramatic effect and save energy. Not all discharge lighting can be dimmer controlled, it is therefore essential to have good flexibility of switching with no more than two lamp units per switch. Consideration should also be given to the ‘glare factor’ and attachment louvers are available for most light fittings. 
  • Lighting for a concert or stage area can be successfully achieved by including suitably rated power points, for the use of portable stage lighting rigs. 
  • Ideally light fittings should be positioned to allow easy access for lamp changing. This is not always possible. However, with the present long life span of lamps (particularly discharge lamps) it would be advantageous to plan ahead and budget for a complete periodic lamp change, carried out professionally, without health and safety risks.   

3.  Emergency Lighting 

There is currently no statutory requirement for churches to provide emergency lighting. It is however, the duty of the trustees to carry out a risk assessment, as required under the Health and Safety Regulations. NB: This is not the case for church halls that are available for public hire. 

  • If the assessment results in a decision to provide emergency lighting, it should be installed in accordance with BS5266.
  • An emergency lighting log book, with the record of regular testing must be kept up to date.  Without regular testing and maintenance, emergency lighting will soon become ineffective. 
  • The emergency light fittings should be non-maintained units (i.e. to activate only on power failure). For aesthetic reasons it would be preferable to incorporate the emergency unit within a general lighting fitting if possible. 
  • If infrequent provision only, is required, illuminated exit signs and emergency lighting can be provided by portable ‘plug in’ units, with the provision of a discreet socket and bracket in the appropriate positions. When not in use, the emergency lighting units could be kept energised, adjacent to the electricity mains supply position. This would also help to ensure that the lighting units are in working order prior to use. 

4. External Floodlighting 

There are many things to consider before deciding to floodlight the exterior of the church: 

  • Light pollution, particularly in rural churches. 
  • The Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) - English Nature. 
  • Archaeological advice in respect of sunken lamps and cable routes, especially through burial grounds. 
  • Energy consumption - use of low energy fittings - time control to prevent unnecessary illumination. 
  • Choice of appropriate lamp colour rendering, for the particular stonework. 
  • If the building is listed or in a conservation area.
  • If the floodlighting would increase the security of the building, or, conversely, cause attraction from those with a less than Christian intent.  Consideration may be given to external PIR motion sensor switches, especially on roofs and climbing points.

5. Electrical Heating 

Space heating a church, other than a very small church, by electricity, would not be recommended. The sustained input of heat, required to overcome the heat losses of the building, and raise the temperature to an acceptable level, using electricity, would be substantial, and even if affordable, it would be an extravagant use of energy. 

The choice of a new heating system will vary according to the circumstances. If the circuit is contemplating a wider use of the church, keeping the building constantly warm would be an obvious advantage. Hot water heating systems would be more suited to this. In many churches it is a matter of providing warmth for a small congregation in a large building, for a few services each month, at an affordable running cost. This means putting heat where the people are, rather than attempting to heat the whole space. Electrical heating can be used efficiently to achieve this objective. 

  • Under pew heating 
    If it is possible for under pew heating to be successfully accommodated, it can be an effective and economical method of providing heat where it is required. The heaters are low level ‘skirting type’ convector units. They are unobtrusive, and the wiring to them can usually be concealed within the pew platforms. These heaters are available in various lengths (output from 500 -750 watts per metre) with integral overheat thermal safety cutout protection, and can be linked together if necessary. The heaters should be floor mounted on brackets, NOT fixed to pews, and assurance should be obtained from the manufacturer that the heaters used in this type of application conform to current Health and Safety Regulations. Good flexible switching is advisable, ideally a switch concealed under each pew, with contactor/time control at the distribution board to enable the system to be energised for a short pre-heat period prior to the services, and also prevent the heaters from being left on unnecessarily. If considering such heaters, thought needs to be given to whether there will still be room for kneeling, without any risk to the congregation.
  • Off/peak fan assisted storage heating 
    This can be used to provide a low level background temperature in small churches, provided there is space, and they are able to be located relatively unobtrusively. This heating could be used to supplement under pew heating, and would also benefit the fabric.
  • Radiant / quartz heating 
    It is generally accepted that quartz heaters are not pleasing in appearance. They also produce a bright light, which can be visually intrusive. These should only be considered where there is no feasible alternative. 

6. Wiring systems

The following, are the types of wiring considered to be acceptable for use in church buildings: 

  • MICV (mineral insulated copper covered with polymeric sheath). This is a very durable cable which is available with LSF (low smoke and fume) sheath which comes in various colours to blend with the surrounding surfaces. Brass termination glands are the compression type and come complete with shrouds to match the sheath colour. This cable should be fixed with wrap around clips (colour to match the cable sheath) and screws. 
  • FP200 (fire resistant cable). This type of cable was first used for fire alarm installations. It is now considered a quality cable suited to many applications. It also has LSF (low smoke and fume) covering. Like MICV cable it retains its shape (good for dressing around stonework). The TRS termination glands prevent the ingress of dampness and also come complete with shrouds. The added advantage of this cable is the economy of installation costs, being far less labour intensive to install than mineral insulated cable. This cable should be fixed with wrap around clips and screws. FP200 cable comes with white or red covering. However it can be successfully painted to blend with the surrounding surfaces. The paint used must be approved by the cable manufacturers. 
  • MICC (mineral insulated copper covered). This cable is the same as MICV cable without a sheath covering over the copper. If this cable is used on damp surfaces, particularly with lime based mortar, it will quickly discolour and corrode. This cable should be fixed with wrap-around copper clips and brass screws. 
  • Steel Conduit (with PVC cables). Steel conduit has been used in many churches in the past and can be re-used for rewiring an installation if found to be in good order with no signs of corrosion. If conduits are re-used the conduit should not be used as a CPC (circuit protective conductor). A separate earth conductor should be used throughout. Where existing conduit is re-used, it does prevent disturbing the fabric. However it is highly unlikely that steel conduit would be considered for a new installation, because of the higher labour cost and the aesthetic impact. 
  • High Impact Plastic Conduit (with PVC cables). This conduit is much more economical to install. There are applications where this could be preferred, such as towers and boiler rooms. 
  • SWA cable (steel wire armoured). This cable should be used for all external buried cable runs. It is also ideal for sub-mains, under floors or in ducts. Where this cable is used, the wire sheath should not be relied on as the CPC (circuit protection conductor), allowance should be made for a separate earth conductor core. 

7. The Fabric 

Cable runs should be carefully planned so that they are unobtrusive and do not cause damage or disturb the fabric. Vertical cable runs should be kept to the corners or cross sections, and horizontal runs should be at wall plate level or at low level.

Cable fixings should be drilled into the mortar joints (not stonework) wherever possible, and should be appropriately spaced in order that the cables lie flat on the surface.

Trunking should only be used for multiples of three or more cables, in which case it should be painted to blend with the surrounding surface. No chasing of plaster, drilling through walls or exposed timber should be carried out without prior approval through the consent’s system. 
8. Sockets and Portable appliances 

Sockets should be the metal clad type and should be protected by a 30ma RCD. Sockets in wet situations, such as bell chambers, should be at least IP54 rated. All portable appliances should be tested by a competent person in accordance with the Health and Safety regulations, and a log of regular tests for each appliance be provided. 
9. Organs 

The organ can be a risk area. The electric blower motor is often overlooked and can be tucked away gathering dust. It should be examined at regular intervals to prevent it becoming a fire risk, particularly if left inadvertently turned on after use. Consider having an indicator light on the organ control switch. 
10. Lightning Strike

There is no way to predict or prevent lightning strikes.  A single bolt of lightning can contain up to one billion volts of electricity which can cause considerable structural damage if the bolt strikes a building. Lightning damage comes in two forms:  

  • Structural damage to the fabric of the church, which is usually minor but can result in fires or falling masonry.  
  • Indirect damage to electrical systems and equipment.  The resultant voltage surge can cause malfunctions and shutdowns and burn out wiring. Telephones, computers, electric organs and alarm systems are all at risk. Approximately 60% of insurance claims for lightning damage are for electrical wiring and equipment rather than structural damage. 

Recent estimates suggest that around 80% of churches have some form of lightning protection installed. Perhaps counter-intuitively, churches with lightning conductors are actually more likely to be struck, but the energy is directed harmlessly away from the building and into the ground. Churches without protection are five times more likely to suffer structural damage as the result of a strike. 

The traditional defence for most churches has been a lightning conductor, a single Franklin rod leading from the top of the spire or tower to an earth stake in the ground. A modern approach to protection would be a Faraday Cage system, a mesh of conductors laid at intervals over the roof and down the walls of the church, and connected to the ground by earth electrodes. 

A record of the visual checks and inspections should be held in the church log book. 

To view advice from Methodist Insurance on lightning, click here.  

11. Surge protection 

Surge protection should be considered as part of the risk assessment particularly with the increase in the use of electronic equipment in churches, e.g. sound systems, organ controls, computers, projectors, dimmers etc. Surge protection can be included within the mains distribution gear.  
12. Record keeping

Drawings, in plan and elevation, with clear photographs showing the exact positions of all new fittings. Photos should show where fittings are to be located within the context of the church as a whole. 

  • Details of cable routes. 
  • Illustrations of proposed light fittings, heaters, etc. (from catalogue etc.)

Trustees are advised to obtain two or three quotations to ensure they are getting value for money. Only the quotation from the chosen contractor need be submitted to the DAC. If more than one quotation is submitted to the DAC then it should be stated clearly which the preferred quote is. 

13. Certification 

The following certificates appropriate to the works carried out should be provided with originals held in the church log book: 

  • New electrical installation work - NICEIC Electrical installation certificate (EIC) 
  • Minor electrical works - NICEIC Minor works certificate (MEW) 
  • Periodical Inspection - NICEIC Periodic inspection report (PIR) 
  • Portable appliance testing - HSE log test sheet 
  • Emergency lighting testing - NICEIC BS5266 log test sheet (ELT) 
  • Lightning conductor testing - BS6651 log test sheet
Fire Extinguishers

The Fire Extinguisher Service contract for churches operated by Chubb Fire Limited - National Accounts Division Manchester, has been extended until July 2020. 

Any new premises wishing to participate in this agreement must apply through the below address, via post, telephone,  or email.  Contact details as follows:
Mrs Joanne White 
National Accounts Division
PO Box 16 Manchester
M24 4JY
Tel -  0161 654 2256
Email –
If the following details could be provided to enable them to add your premises to the Churches contract:

  • The full name and address with postcode for the invoice
  • The name and telephone number of the contact to arrange access to site
  • The name and address of the site that is to be serviced
  • The due month in which the service is required

On receipt of this correspondence they will arrange to visit your premises.  Subsequent to each annual service carried out, any recommendations for replacement or additional extinguishers will be forwarded to you for your approval.         

  • £6.25 each - Service Inspection of all portable fire extinguishers in accordance with BS5306 Part 3 including the provision of all parts, refilling at the time of service, discharge testing and recharging. 
  • £0.50p - Inspection of fire blankets (if carried out whilst on site servicing the extinguishers)     
  • £1.50  - Service Attendance Fee
  • £12.00  - Minimum invoice value per location for servicing   

The £6.25 inspection charge should be considered over a five year period to include the discharge tests and re-charges as per the British Standard recommendations. The above service price excludes Nu-Swift spare parts, refilling and extinguisher bodies.
Emergency Call Outs
£6.25 per extinguisher 
£5.00 Call Out Attendance Fee
£12.00 Minimum invoice charge
Supplying of Equipment
Supplied fit for purpose with a wall bracket and inclusive of delivery charges

Type of Extinguisher:        
6 litre Foam Extinguisher       £44.62
2 kg CO2 (Carbon Dioxide)   £56.04
1.2m x 1.2m Fire Blanket        £16.53
Every Extinguisher supplied is subject to initial inspection charge    £6.25
Fixing of the extinguisher to the wall, if requested    £2.76
When an extinguisher is removed from site, due to being surplus to requirement or being replaced with new one, there will be a charge of £3.00 per extinguisher to allow for the transportation & safe disposal of the contents due to environmental regulations.   
All prices quoted are nett and exclusive of VAT. Value Added Tax will be charged at the current standard rate.  This proposal is based on Chubb Fire & Security Ltd. standard terms and conditions a copy of which is available on request from their offices.
Churches should ensure that when dealing with Chubb they are on the National Account Contract as agreements with Chubb’s local offices can be more expensive. Further information on fire risks generally can be found on the Methodist Insurance webpages here: 

Gas - Inspection and Testing

Inspection and testing

Gas must be treated with respect.  It can escape and silently poison or even cause catastrophic explosions, so it must be carefully managed.  Meeting the legislation and standards for gas safety is not easy but duty holders must make sure they understand them.
The Law
 Gas safety legislation stems from the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Added to this act are specific regulations: Pipelines Safety Regulations 1996, Gas Safety (Management)
Regulations 1996, Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and five more.
Other legislation for gas includes: the Gas Acts 1986 and 1995, Gas Appliance (Safety) Regulations 1995 and Building Regulations and Building Standards (Scotland) Regulations.
Codes and standards

In addition to the above, there are ACOPs (Approved Codes of Practice) for gas that support the legislation, plus the relevant British Standards totalling 72, which cover flues, valves, meters and regulators, tubing and appliances.
Knowing, understanding and following these 72 separate standards is an onerous task, yet this is what is required for compliance. As it states in the Gas Safety Regulations 1998: the code has special legal status. If you are prosecuted for breach of health and safety law, and it is proved that you did not follow the relevant provisions of the code, you will need to show that you have complied with the law in some other way or a court will find you at fault.

The essential phrase to consider is in Part F of Regulation 35:
It shall be the duty of every employer or self-employed person to ensure that any gas appliance, installation pipework or flue installed at any place of work under his control is maintained in a safe condition so as to prevent risk of injury to any person.
Regulation 4 qualifies that this means taking reasonable steps to ensure that the person undertaking the work is, or is employed by, a ‘class of persons’ approved by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). In other words the person undertaking the work must be registered with Gas Safe and qualified to the appropriate ACOPs for the specific job in hand.

In 2009, the Corgi gas registration scheme was replaced in the UK by the Gas Safe Register: the official body for gas safety in UK, Isle of Man and Guernsey, run by Capita Gas Registration and Ancillary Services.

 The sole focus of the register is on improving and maintaining gas safety to the highest standards. Gas Safe holds the only official list of 120,000 gas engineers legally able to perform gas work on boilers, hobs, ovens, fires and all other gas appliances. Anyone carrying out gas work must have a Gas Safe Register ID card. If not, they – and you – are breaking the law.

The route to legislative compliance begins with risk assessment, as recommended by the HSE, to establish hazards and necessary precautions. That assessment should inform what is subsequently done in terms of a test regime and maintenance schedule. It should be conducted according to that assessment and in line with regulations and ACOPs.
For gas this means ANNUAL inspection and test of gas appliances, pipework and flues in every type of property, other than private domestic, but including manses which, for the purposes of the legislation, are deemed to be occupied by ‘tenants’ with the circuit as ‘landlord’.
Test and inspection is not often where compliance is completed; it’s where the process starts. For gas, that’s easier said than done because of the complex Corgi legacy: there are many, many ACOPs for gas and it is essential to establish that the engineer conducting the assessment is qualified for the specific item or situation.
For example, an engineer qualified to inspect domestic gas appliances may not be suitably qualified for commercial appliances, while an engineer qualified to assess one grade of pipework may not be qualified to assess other grades.  In fact, there is training and qualifications for every one of the 72 ACOPs.
It is extremely complicated and requires both awareness and diligence on the part of the duty holder. If an accident were to occur and the HSE to investigate, one of the first things they would scrutinise would be the specific qualifications of the gas engineer.  So it is advisable to check the engineer’s registration card before allowing access and verifying the details on the Gas Safe online register to establish that the individual’s specific qualifications match every aspect of your site’s specific requirement.
 Compliance on a budget
Get competitive, comparative quotes or tenders. Don’t be fooled by cut price testing where charges are loaded on remedial repairs. 
Use flexibility to your advantage; plan in advance and build all the timing and site access flexibility in that you can to claim competitive pricing. 
Negotiate a longer contract for testing that will span three, four or five years. You are sure to get preferential pricing. 
Link the buying of your gas safety requirements to electrical testing and other services to maximise your buying power. 
Source a supplier with multi-skilled engineers; it could mean less time on your site and hence reductions in cost to you. 
Useful sources
Official register of qualified gas engineers -
 Health and Safety Executive  (a source of advice and legal information about health and safety in the workplace)  -
This guidance is intended to give an overview of some of the main pieces of legislation that cover many workplaces.
Further information can be obtained from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE); in particular: (for landlords’ (circuits’) duties) (for gas safety in catering and hospitality) (for ventilation of kitchens for catering)
You should also check any requirements in your insurance policy (Methodist Insurance produce several guidance notes (
** see also Guidance Note T8 for Electrical services: Inspection and Testing

Health and Safety during Construction

On 6th April 2015, the CDM 2007 was revoked and replaced by the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015).   CDM 2015 is subject to certain transitional arrangements, for construction projects that began before  6th April 2015 and continue beyond that date.  
Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015): Transitional arrangements CDM 2015 recognises that there will be construction projects that start before the Regulations come into force on 6 April 2015 and continue beyond that date.   For these projects, the following transitional arrangements apply. 
Where there is, or is expected to be, more than one contractor on a project:  where the construction phase has not yet started and the client has not yet appointed a CDM co-ordinator, the client must appoint a principal designer as soon as practicable  if the CDM co-ordinator has already been appointed and the construction phase has started, the client must appoint a principal designer to replace the CDM co-ordinator before 6 October 2015, unless the project comes to an end before then  in the period it takes to appoint the principal designer, the appointed CDM co-ordinator should comply with the duties contained in Schedule 4 of CDM 2015.  These reflect the duties placed on CDM co-ordinators under CDM 2007 rather than requiring CDM co-ordinators to act as principal designers, a role for which they may not be equipped
Other transitional arrangements are:  pre-construction information, construction phase plans or health and safety files provided under CDM 2007 are recognised as meeting the equivalent requirements in CDM 2015  any project notified under CDM 2007 is recognised as a notification under CDM 2015  a principal contractor appointed under CDM 2007 will be considered to be a principal contractor under CDM 2015
In all other circumstances, the requirements of CDM 2015 apply in full from  6 April 2015.
The CDM 2007 pages are therefore being retained until the end of the transitional period, 6th October 2015 and pages giving guidance on CDM 2015 will be published shortly.

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM 2007)
 Everyone controlling site work has health and safety responsibilities. Checking that working conditions are healthy and safe before work begins (and ensuring that the proposed work is not going to put others at risk) requires planning and organisation. This applies whatever the size of the site.
The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM) can help you to:
 • improve health and safety in your industry 
 • have the right people for the right job at the right time to manage the risks on site, and 
 • focus on effective planning and manage the risk - not the paperwork. 
The regulations come under the overall legislation of the 1974 Health & Safety at Work Act.
Please also see our information sheets on risk assessment.
The Health & Safety Commission has published a useful Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) which is essential reading in order to understand the regulations (see references at end).
As always, the regulations need to be consulted for full details, but the main points to be considered are as follows:
 • The only construction work excluded from these regulations is ‘domestic work’. No construction work handled by Methodist Managing Trustees can be defined as ‘domestic work’. 
 • All construction work must have a package of Health & Safety (H&S) information (for the definition of ‘construction work’, see ACOP clause 13). 
 • Construction work, even when undertaken by volunteers, still comes within the regulations. Managing Trustees are responsible for ensuring that all volunteers have sufficient training and competence. 
 • Managing Trustees are responsible for checking the competence and responsibilities of designers and contractors etc. 
  All construction work lasting more than 30 working days, or involving more than 500 person days, must be notified to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE). 
A CDM coordinator must be appointed for all notifiable projects.

The CDM coordinator replaces the 1994 CDM regulations ‘planning supervisor’, and has very similar duties, including:
 providing the Managing Trustees with advice relating to H&S risk management 
 ensuring that all designers and contractors are competent 
 coordinating H&S information 
 notifying HSE where applicable, and 
 the preparation of the H&S file. 
The CDM coordinator should be appointed as early as possible in the project. Where this person has not been appointed, the Managing Trustees are legally the CDM coordinator.
All construction professionals should be familiar with the CDM regulations, and we recommend that you consult a suitable professional for advice whenever you are contemplating a building project. The designer (ie the architect or surveyor) also has considerable duties (see ACOP clause 109 to 145; the principal contractor’s duties are set out in Clauses 146-192).
The HSE has stressed that one of the main objectives of the revised regulations is that it is important to minimise paperwork and bureaucracy. One of the main complaints about the 1994 CDM regulations was that they produced a ‘paperchase’, including lengthy H&S documents, which were sometimes of little use.
We appreciate that the new regulations may be considered to impose some additional responsibility on Managing Trustees, but it is worth bearing in mind that these responsibilities are little different to those already applicable under the 1994 CDM regulations. The main difference is that what was implicit in the old regulations, is now made more explicit, particularly in the requirement to ensure that the professional advisors and building contractors are competent and suitably resourced. For instance, any proposed timescale for building work must be reasonable.
Managing Trustees who appoint anyone who they have not assessed to be competent are in breach of the regulations, and we therefore always recommend that a suitable professional is appointed to offer at least some advice, even if a ‘full service’ is not considered necessary.
However, the formal appointment of a CDM coordinator is only required for projects that have to be notified to the HSE (see above).

If Managing Trustees do not need to appoint a CDM coordinator, and also do not appoint a suitable professional (eg an architect or surveyor) to advise them as a ‘competent person’ as defined in the regulations, then the Managing Trustees themselves become the competent person, which may be inadvisable. In these circumstances, they should discuss the position with their insurance company to ensure they have adequate insurance cover.
Competence: a definition is given in the ACOP appendix 4.
Construction work is very widely defined, and includes repair and redecoration, site investigation and preparation, demolition, and work to services (see APOC clause 13).
The Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992 are complementary regulations which set out requirements covering, for instance, sanitary provision; eating, drinking, rest and changing facilities; and cleanliness of working spaces during construction activity (including when volunteers are involved).
 Managing Health & Safety in Construction: Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007- Approved Code of Practice (L144), HSE Books 2007.
 Technical Information leaflet T9 – Property Risk Assessment.
 Management of Health & Safety at Work - Approved Code of Practice & Guidance, HSE Books 2007
 The Essentials of Health & Safety at Work: HSE books (revised edition 2006) Health & Safety at Work etc Act, 1974.
 Management of Health & Safety at Work Act
1999 Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare)
Regulations 1992
Health & Safety Executive (HSE) publications: tel: 01787 881165, Health & Safety Executive (HSE) infoline: tel: 0845 345 0055

Joint Contract Tribunal (JCT) Contracts
Choosing the contractor

It is the responsibility of the architect acting for the Managing Trustees to ensure that contractors being considered for tendering are experienced, competent and suitable to carry out the proposed works.
Managing Trustees should note that parties to building contracts are now more litigiously minded – and that contractors, in the event of a disagreement, will look for loopholes in any documentation signed.
This has resulted in a great responsibility being placed on the architect in respect of the building contract.
It should be emphasised that litigation is not likely but when it does occur it can be very expensive.
The Support Services office advises that local and known contractors if considered suitable by the architect and Managing Trustees for the work to be undertaken should be placed on the tender list.
The architects should, as normal practice, make a status enquiry and take up references of potential contractors. The option of a performance bond should be considered with the architect to cover the event of a failure by the contractor to perform the contract. The architect could also advise at this point as to whether or not such a bond would be useful in the particular circumstances. The Support Services office advises that Managing Trustees should ask the architect to try to ascertain the claims record of contractors although it is appreciated that this may be difficult.
Managing Trustees should note there is a Code of Procedure for selective competitive tendering (issued by the National Joint Consultative Committee for Building) and this code anticipates that the lowest tender will normally be accepted. Managing Trustees should have a good reason for not accepting a tender from a contractor who has previously been accepted on to the tender list. Ultimately the decision as to with whom a contract should be made is one for the Managing Trustees.
It is imperative that Managing Trustees should choose architects and surveyors who carry full professional indemnity insurance.

 In all cases a reputable architect in the field of church building or refurbishment work must be selected. The engagement of an architect is a most important decision for the Managing Trustees.
The Support Services office points out that the insurance position of the architect to do the work should be clarified. It is possible for chartered architects to practise without insurance and insurance must also be in place at the date of any claim.
Pre-contract considerations

Prior to going to tender, the Support Services office recommends that:

 • the project has been logged onto the Consents website 
 • consultation (if required) has been held with the district officers and formal consent has been given. 

 The Managing Trustees’ architect can then proceed to obtain all necessary planning permissions and building regulations approvals, and to attend to any fire or health and safety matters required.
Any structural matters requiring attention should also be attended to. The Support Services office recommends that until the requisite documentation is available then no further works should be carried out until the architect is in a position to proceed and has all the relevant documentation required and in place.
The JCT form of contract

The use of the JCT forms of contract is encouraged by the Connexion and TMCP and those forms of contract are recommended.  Templates can be found on the JCT website -  
However, the clause which automatically refers any dispute to arbitration in that contract should be deleted.
Managing Trustees should be aware that arbitration is another form of legal proceedings and not an escape from a hearing. If the arbitration clause is excluded any litigation under the contract could go to a judge known as the Official Referee (that is a judge experienced in dealing with building disputes).
One of the difficulties that has been experienced with arbitration is that this usually has been brought by the builder against the Managing Trustees. Managing Trustees may feel that a claim should be made against one of their advisers and not themselves but they could not join that other party into the proceedings under the arbitration procedure. They are able to do so in normal court proceedings.
It is possible that if the claim is against a professional then that professional would inform the insurance company who insure their negligence claim
The insurance company may then effectively take over the running of the entire case. If such a circumstance should arise, Managing Trustees should note that the insurers act for the professional (eg the architect or surveyor) – not for the Managing Trustees.
As mentioned above in court proceedings it is possible to commission an allegedly negligent professional as a third party. If this development should occur then Managing Trustees need to be aware that such an adviser would become hostile to the Managing Trustees and their case. Managing Trustees need to be aware that in the event of litigation it is important to obtain relevant papers from professional advisers (eg architects etc) at an early stage.
The consent of the Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes and the Methodist Council is required before proceedings can be commenced, and, if they are being defended, for them to continue to be defended. Early contact with the TMCP in Manchester is advisable.
Any claim by the contractors for works done under the JCT contract will be scrutinised by the quantity surveyor who will advise the architect as each claim is made.
The architect can be asked to report any areas in dispute between the parties when each claim is made so this could be used as an early warning procedure for the Managing Trustees. They may then consider bringing in any other necessary experts before difficulties escalate.
If a dispute should arise, TMCP in Manchester might be able to assist in suggesting methods of resolution. However, they will require sight of the reports which have been obtained from the contractor, architect and quantity surveyor.
TMCP repeats that in its experience Managing Trustees should not anticipate any major difficulties when entering into building contracts. The guidance set out above is an attempt, in the light of experience, to reduce the risk of potential conflict and ensure that any disputes are satisfactorily resolved even if, in the last resort, recourse has to be made to the courts.
Log Book

Templates for a log book can be downloaded here.  

Suggested list of items for inclusion in the logbook:  
Churches & Chapels:

  • Land Registry documentation (Original deeds to be retained as per SO 903 of CPD Care and Custody of Deeds).  TMCP can assist.   
  • Details of the Annual Return or web page on the consents site where this may be found 
  • Links addresses to Consents web site -
  • Link to Property pages on Methodist website - 
  • Quinquennial inspection reports 
  • Details of any building work carried out, eg:
    • original enquiry, 
    • architects/surveyors letters etc
    • quotations/tenders
    • invoices/certificates etc o planning/building regulations consents
    • consent under Sec 98 CPD (Listed Building Works), if required
    • practical completion certificate & final certificate 
  • Electrical inspection reports 
  • Maintenance agreements, eg:
    • annual roof maintenance/clearing of gutters
    • heating 
    • gas installation
    • fire alarms
    • fire extinguishers
    • lightning conductors 
  • Details of quinquennial inspector 
  • Plans of the church and other drawings 
  • Drainage layouts 
  • Photographs of building 
  • Risk assessments 
  • Fire risk assessment (as required by 2005 fire safety regs) 
  • Asbestos report (2nd copy may need to be kept elsewhere, as this may be required by fire brigade in event of fire) 
  • Disabled access reports (the ‘Access Audit’) 
  • Insurance documents 
  • Old insurance cover notes (which legally have to be kept for 40 years) 
  • Legal agreements (eg licences, party wall agreements, easements etc) 
  • Public Entertainment licences (or letter confirming one is not necessary)

Length of time for keeping records The Methodist Church publication Guidance of Best Practice in Retaining Records is available on the Methodist website -

Although there is legally no landlord/tenant relationship, manses should be treated as accommodation to be “rented” to the incumbent by the Circuit as “landlord” and some of the Landlord and Tenant Act requirements will apply. 

Members of the public have access (albeit by invitation) and Part M of the Building Regulations (access and use of buildings) will apply for any alteration and improvement work to the Ground Floor together with access drives and pathways. 

  • Land Registry documentation (Original deeds to be retained as per SO 903 of CPD Care and Custody of Deeds).  TMCP can assist with providing a copy.  
  • Details of the Annual Return or web page on the consents site where this may be found 
  • Trustees are recommended to ensure suitable provision for disabled access wherever possible 
  • Risk assessments are recommended good practice  
  • An asbestos and a legionella risk assessments are recommended 
  • An annual manse stewards’ report is required 
  • Other requirements as listed for churches – electrical, gas, fire etc

Property rented out

Trustees should be aware that there may be additional obligations, required by the Landlord and Tenant Act and other legislation.

Methodist Insurance

All documents link to and are hosted by Methodist Insurance unless otherwise indicated. Last checked and updated: Jun 2018

Methodist Insurance - General Information (Connexional Team PDF)

Methodist Insurance - About Us


Risk assessments

Church Risk Planner - How to look after your church throughout the year

Fire Risk Assessment Form (PDF)

Four Risk Assessment Stages for Methodist Churches

Risk Assessment in Manses


Inspections and security

Church Security (protection against vandalism; storage of valuable items)

Lead / Metal on Church buildings (metal theft; SmartWater)

Services Inspection and Testing (electrical equipment)


Health and Safety (see also the Health and Safety page)

Bad Weather Advice (keeping your church safe)

Church Health and Safety Guidance Notes (for asbestos, see the Technical Information page

Community work (event planning)

Fire Safety (prevention)

Health and Safety Tips and Advice (guidance and forms)

Party Wall Act

There have recently been a number of churches who have received formal notice (as adjoining owners) from their neighbours who were planning constructional work on or near the party wall to the church. Unsure of procedure, and having received this formal notification, they have passed the notice to either TMCP or the Property Team for attention.
Under the 1996 Party Wall Act, where a neighbour is intending to carry out work on, or adjacent to, a boundary, they are required to agree a ‘party wall award’ with you. You are entitled to appoint an architect or surveyor to represent your interests and their fees will be paid for by the neighbour (known under the Act as the ‘building owner’) so there will be no financial outlay for you.
We strongly recommend that you appoint an architect or surveyor to represent the Trustees’ interests – perhaps the professional who carries out your quinquennial inspections, as they will already be familiar with your building.  Recommendations for a surveyor can be found on the Surveyor's Panel.   
Under usual circumstances, the neighbour will have shared with the church members their intentions and, in the majority of cases, the church are content for their neighbours to implement the work.
Under the Act, however, this formal notice of intention to carry out the work has to be issued, ONE MONTH before the commencement of the work and should include a drawing showing the location and extent of the work.

If the Church Council, as Managing Trustees, is content for their neighbour’s work to proceed, it should sign the notice and return it WITHIN 14 DAYS.

If the Managing Trustees do not (and even if they agree to the work being undertaken), a dispute is deemed to have occurred. In this case, an independent party wall surveyor has to be appointed to resolve the ‘dispute’ (even if one has not occurred) and his costs will have to be met.
In summary, it is the Church Council as Managing Trustees who should action the matter. Obviously, if they are unhappy with the proposals, then contact with the District Property Secretary (details in the District Directory), or TMCP is suggested.
For further information, and some useful explanatory diagrams showing typical situations, please refer to the government’s website -



The guidance regarding church photography is on page 88 of the Safeguarding Policy:

Advice is also available from Organising Events Guidance Pack, which includes a consent form on page 17

A new permission form in relation to the photography and videoing of children and young people is currently in development.

Professional Indemnity Insurance

Professional advisors and professional indemnity insurance cover
When a building scheme is proposed, the normal recommendation to Church Councils from Support Services in Manchester is that independent professional advisors be appointed who have professional indemnity insurance (PII) cover. We also require the professional to provide the Church Council with a copy of their insurer’s certificate of PII cover.
There are substantial benefits for Managing Trustees in using a professional who has PII cover. Managing Trustees could, if so advised, be obliged to sue a professional advisor for negligence. In the absence of PII cover, the likelihood of the Managing Trustees being able to recover that money from the professional would be very remote indeed, and might even result in bankrupting the individual. This is why we advise Managing Trustees only to appoint professionals who carry PII so that in those cases where there is a claim, there are resources there to settle the claim.
We advise the appointment of independent professional advisors rather than professionals who are church or circuit members, ie ‘in-house’. The purpose of this is to ensure that there is a totally impartial professional relationship between the Managing Trustees and their professional advisors. There can be a strong temptation to accept the offer of services from in-house professionals who are either retired, or an employee of a large organisation but working privately and, in either case, without PII cover. The temptation is partly because of possible saving on fee costs, and partly because there is a potential embarrassment if the offer is declined. However, any potential embarrassment is nothing compared to the embarrassment which may take place in due course should, for any reason, the scheme go awry and the professional be in any way implicated.
 Our advice where there is an in-house professional is that they could best provide their services by acting on the church’s behalf in the church’s relationship with a properly appointed independent professional. Hopefully, this avoids the in-house professional feeling in any way snubbed, but also avoids the longer-term possibility of the church having to sue a member.
The question is sometimes raised of a Church Council buying PII cover for an inhouse professional. However, our understanding is that, under contract and under tort, the professional has legal liability for six years after practical completion of a project, and thereafter there is liability under tort for a period of up to fifteen years after practical completion so long as an action is brought within three years of the defect becoming known. This means that, for a church to be adequately covered under PII, their professional needs to have PII cover for at least fifteen years after practical completion of a scheme

Property Consents


The property consents site can be accessed via the Online Suite of Applications. It allows you to create and progress the following types of property projects (please note that you need to have managing trustee permissions to do so):

  • Repairs and alterations including extensions and demolitions
  • Lettings / sales / purchases / easements
  • Sharing Agreements


The Help & Guidance pages for the consents site have been revised and updated in March 2019 and can be accessed here:

The Guide consists of the following main sections:

  • Basic Principles, which explains how to use the site;
  • Roles & Responsibilities, which shows the differences between user levels and permissions;
  • User Profiles & Permissions, which enables new users to get started;
  • Project Types, which goes through each tab that needs to be completed depending on the project type (such as sale or purchase);
  • Creating Projects, which is especially useful for those who are new to the site;
  • Progressing Projects, which helps users to see how to reach the next stage of a project;
  • Funding & Payments, which lists the fund types and various funding sources, including replacement projects;
  • Reporting & Alerts, which clarifies when alerts are sent and how to create and print reports;
  • Properties, which deals with the property section of the consents site;
  • Listed Buildings & Conservation Areas, which refers to legal requirements and procedures.

The Frequently Asked Questions have also been updated and structured to match the main guidance and include queries such as how to add a project, why a sale or lease project requires a cost to be entered, why some funding sources do not appear on the Payments tab, or how to upload documents. A list of all FAQs can be accessed directly via:


For any website-related queries, contact the Web Applications Team:

For District-related queries, contact your District Property Secretary or your local Consents Enabler.

More information on and for Consents Enablers can be found here.

Property Risk Assessments

General points
The law on this issue is complex, and what follows is our understanding, which may be subject to a different interpretation, particularly in the light of an individual situation or further case law. It is not authoritative and is given for information only. Managing Trustees are advised to engage their own professionals to ensure the law is being complied with.
The law is regularly being modified and enlarged - it is essential for Managing Trustees to update themselves on this topic.
A complementary package of information (including Health & Safety notes) and a useful checklist is available from Methodist Insurance, as part of their ‘Church Shield’ policy (Tel: 0161 833 9696).
Local authorities often produce guidance notes on this topic, and it may be worth contacting them to discuss the position.
The regulations apply to all church premises, including manses if they are visited by church members or the public.
Connexional information is largely based on the booklet Management of Health & Safety at Work (MHSW) –approved code of practice & guidance, published by HSE Books. This booklet gives both the regulations and guidance notes on how to comply with the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSW). Those wishing for more detailed information will need to buy the booklet from the Health & Safety Executive (Tel 01787 881165) - also available from many bookshops. MHSW also overlaps with other legislation, particularly those relating to fire precautions, and others such as the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations.
Fire Risk Assessments are dealt with in the Fire Risk assessment Guidance notes available on the Methodist website
Principles of risk assessment
The government has stated that the general principle behind risk assessment is that all users of the building should examine their work activities (whether paid or voluntary) to identify any risks to health and safety. Any distinctions between employer, employee, self-employed, or volunteer are to be disregarded, and it is also essential to consult with other groups that use the premises.

The MHSW regulations are not intended to be prescriptive - that is, they do not lay down detailed requirements; the intention is that everyone is expected to help himself/herself to identify and reduce risks, where reasonable, and to keep themselves up to date with relevant information.
Compliance with the MHSW is deemed to be sufficient to comply with the law, although alternative procedures are also acceptable. In the event of any prosecution, the Managing Trustees will need to show how they have complied with the law.
Strictly speaking, where there are fewer than five employees, the risk assessment does not have to be in writing, but our view is that it is always preferable for the assessment to be written down and recorded in the log book or relevant minute book.
Local authorities have the legal right to inspect church premises, and to require work to be carried out if considered necessary - this is why we suggest that a previously agreed, written and recorded risk assessment is so useful.
Responsibility cannot be passed on to a third party (eg by stating that a builder is to be entirely responsible for health and safely matters during building works).
If there is any doubt about who is responsible for health and safety matters, this must be clarified.
What is a ‘risk assessment’?
A risk assessment should be a “systematic general examination of the effect of their undertaking, their work activities and the condition of the premises” (MHSW, page 5, point 9) and should cover the following points:
 identify how risks arise - identify hazards 
 how they impact on those affected 
 how risks are managed so that decisions are made in an “informed, rational and structured manner”. 
A ‘hazard’ is something with the potential to cause harm; a ‘risk’ is the likelihood of potential harm from that hazard.
The assessment should be regularly reviewed to ensure that it is still current and covers any change in risk. It needs only to include what it is reasonably expected should be known, and is not expected to include unforeseeable risks. Managing Trustees should appoint a competent person to assist in preparing the risk assessment and other health and safety matters (regulation 7). A ‘competent person’ is someone who has sufficient training and experience or knowledge to undertake the necessary duties. Managing Trustees may wish to obtain further
 advice from their architect or surveyor who carries out their quinquennial inspections, or from their insurance company.
The regulations stress that the level of detail in a risk assessment should be proportionate to the risk; for many people using modern church premises, the level of risk should be low. The risk will rise where particular equipment is used, for instance in kitchens, or where electrical or heating equipment is handled. For older buildings, more specific risks may need to be identified, for instance, long flights of stairs, uneven surfaces etc. Particular care will need to be taken in connection with towers, ladders and access to roofs and similar possible hazards. Other aspects that may need particular attention are those involving young people, pregnant women and old people.
MHSW page 8, items 15 and 18 state: “There are no fixed rules about how a risk assessment should be carried out”. However, a risk assessment should:
 ensure significant risks are addressed 
 ensure all risks of the work activity are reviewed (including homeworkers and those visiting the public in their own homes) 
 take account of non-routine activities (eg maintenance and emergencies) 

be systematic and structured. 
Managing Trustees should also consider providing health and safety training for stewards and others, particularly in relation to fire drills and other emergencies. Occasional use of the premises by large groups may need particular 

Quinquinnial Inspections

1.  General
Please see the latest edition of Standing Orders for the most recent information, especially Standing Orders 931, 932, 934, 941, 952-954, 964 and 966
1.1 Quinquennial inspections involve a thorough survey of all aspects of a building's fabric and are intended to identify problems which have developed since the last time it was inspected and to establish priorities for repair to ensure the preservation of the fabric.  Quinquennial inspections are generally frequent enough to catch problems before significant damage might occur.
1.2 The object of the inspection is to ensure the early detection of deterioration or defects so that prompt action can be taken, thus avoiding later and more costly expense, eg replacing timbers affected by dry rot, or much more drastically, total demolition.  A brief inspection, particularly if carried out by someone without adequate training and experience, may mean that the very defects that the scheme ought to establish in fact go undetected.
1.3 Many church buildings constitute a significant part of the country's heritage.  Some are "listed" or in conservation areas and many more have architectural or historic merit.  Many new churches are innovative and significant, both architecturally and theologically.  It is important that these buildings are properly maintained for future generations.
1.4 In the case of Listed Chapels and property within Conservation areas, the importance of regular inspections by architects and surveyors who specialise in the conservation and repair of  historic buildings cannot be over-emphasised.  Historic and 'traditional' structures deteriorate in a manner that is very different from modern buildings and it takes a specialist to correctly distinguish defects that require attention from the superficial results of the ageing process.  Successful identification of the cause of a problem depends on a thorough understanding of the way materials and structures work (not only traditional/historic but also modern and innovative materials) and on identifying the weak points of the building in question in particular. 
 It is vital that specialists remain up to date.  Scientific approaches are continually breaking new ground, and some assumptions made in the recent past are now being questioned.  It is widely  recognised that the inspection of churches requires specialist skills, but it is not always easy for members of the Circuit Meeting or Church Councils to determine which professionals have the skills required – in their view, some professionals seem to qualify solely because they have always qualified, and it is likely that many continue to practice methods which are now known to damage historic buildings, simply because they have not been required to keep abreast of current developments.
1.6 The Quinquennial inspection represents a valuable contribution to the care of a building and a continuing record of the condition of the building, the importance of which should not be minimised.
1.7 Churches are perhaps at their most vulnerable where building works are carried out without any professional involvement. Often building contractors are appointed to carry out minor repairs and maintenance work without professional guidance.  Those responsible for appointments need to be aware of the importance of obtaining the very best advice where the inspection and the repair of historic buildings are concerned, as mistakes may not be immediately apparent but may leave an expensive legacy for the future.
1.8 The neglect of church buildings, or the avoidance of Quinquennial inspections, on the basis of "we'd rather not know" or "we cannot afford either the cost of the survey fee or the works", is not reasonable stewardship.  Ignoring known defects, neglecting adequate maintenance and failing to deal with necessary repairs are irresponsible and, more importantly, are a breach of managing trustees' obligations.  
1.9 Problems should be faced up to and every effort made to find adequate financial resources; a considerable variety of grants are available, and our funding section are always happy to offer help.  The Methodist Church has a continuing responsibility for the care and maintenance of the fabric and contents of Methodist property. 
2 Selection and appointment of Quinquennial Inspectors
2.1 Please see the separate information on ‘Appointment of Quinquennial Inspectors’.
2.2 Churches are special buildings and therefore inspections need to be undertaken by professionally qualified persons who are expert in the care of church buildings, and who have a good working knowledge of construction and repair techniques.  They need to have a sensitivity, understanding and appreciation of the qualities of design for all periods of art and architecture.

Before the inspection and preparation of the report
The Circuit should notify managing trustees to carry out the following prior to the inspection:
3.1 The managing trustees are required to maintain a log book containing previous quinquennial inspection reports, details of repairs and other relevant information, and this needs to be made available to the inspector.
3.2 The managing trustees should inform the inspector of any rights of way, light or air and give details of building defects or problems during the last five years (including damage from storms, vandalism or fire).
3.3 The managing trustees should ensure that the necessary keys are provided, and that access to all areas is provided, including that to voids in roofs, sub-floors, etc., and their location should be brought to the attention of the inspector.
3.4 The report may indicate that further or more detailed investigations are necessary.
3.5 The submission of a copy of the Quinquennial Inspection report is a condition of the consent of any building scheme and may also be a requirement of any grant application.
3.6 Quinquennial inspection reports are required for all Model Trust property including all churches, halls, graveyards, etc., all manses or other housing and all property  unless no longer required for any purpose with heads (b) to (o) of paragraph 13, Model Trusts or are demised on a full repairing lease for a term of not less than 10 years (SO 952(4) ).
4 The Report
4.1 Format of the report
4.1.1 It is important that reports are presented in a consistent format to enable not just the Managing Trustees but the Circuit and District officers to be able to maintain an overview of the state of the property.  It is for this reason that the format adopted by the Church of England is recommended – Quinquennial inspectors who carry out inspections for both Anglican and Methodist churches will welcome the consistency (and have often adopted the previous Anglican recommendations).  
 4.2 Content of the report
4.2.1 A first report may be more detailed than subsequent reports prepared by the same inspector but these subsequent reports should not assume that the previous report is readily to hand for members of a Church Council.  Generally a report will include preliminary information, including  particulars of the site and the buildings, and may include some description of the building and its history. The main part of the report should cover such matters as works since the last inspection; the general condition of the building; a summary of repairs needed; and recommendations for further detailed or specialist inspections.  The report should also cover such matters as furnishings, monuments, the heating system, the electrical installation, the lightning protection installation, sanitary facilities, fire precautions, security, disabled access and external areas and boundaries.
4.2.2 It is sometimes argued that the building and its condition is well known locally and that only a minimum report is necessary.  However, the report is not just for those acquainted with the building.  Several managing trustees may not be particularly familiar with the “out of the way” parts of their building nor its specific constructional methods; also, the membership of Church Councils might well have changed.  The report may also have to be read and be understandable by those who are not familiar with the building, perhaps officers from the local authority or national amenity societies.  
4.2.3 Sketch layouts can be helpful, but full measured drawings are not required.  Digital photographs – particularly of areas not normally visible and of specific defects highlighted in the report - should be included.
4.2.4 The Quinquennial Inspection report must not be regarded as a specification for repairs, although the inspector may be asked subsequently to arrange for the works to be carried out.
4.3 Standard limitation/disclaimer clauses
4.3.1 It is normal for any survey to note various exclusions or limitations.  There are good reasons for this, and some are required by the inspector’s professional indemnity insurance policy.  The following are typical clauses which will often appear:  The inspection will normally be made from ground level, floor level(s), a 3-metre ladder and other readily accessible positions. The inspection will be purely visual and, unless otherwise stated, no enclosed spaces, hidden timbers or inaccessible parts will be opened up for inspection. The report may indicate that further or more detailed investigations are necessary.  Parts of the structure which are inaccessible, enclosed or covered will not be inspected.   Ladders and attendance are to be provided, and the arrangements and cost for this will be met by the local church. 
 5       After the report
5.1 Managing trustees have the responsibility for taking all necessary action to deal with matters indicated in the quinquennial inspection report, even when the required expenditure may seem to be discouraging or prohibitive.
5.2 The inspector should be willing to meet the managing trustees to discuss the findings of the report, and to agree any further work that may be necessary.  Insensitive repairs and alterations can all too easily destroy the character of the premises and inappropriate technical solutions, or the use of unsuitable materials, may prove to be unsatisfactory and costly in the final analysis. Churches are special buildings which require care by specially trained professional advisers.   5.3 Instructions should be given to the inspector if further investigations are to be undertaken; or if the inspector is to prepare information about further repairs.  Such instructions will result in additional charges.  If the inspector is instructed to prepare a specification of works, to invite tenders and to inspect work in progress; then professional fees will have to be negotiated, plus expenses and VAT.
5.4 It will also usually be necessary for the managing trustees and the circuit to register the scheme on the Property Consents website ( to obtain formal consent for the proposed work.  If the building is Listed or in a Conservation Area, statutory consents will be required and any work must be discussed with the Conservation Officer.
6 Typical Layout for a Quinquennial Inspection report of a chapel or ancillary property – Appendix 1 7 Typical Layout for a Quinquennial inspection Report for a manse, other housing or property – see Appendix 2
Note The inspection report can be in either landscape or portrait format.  The advantage of the landscape one is that photographs can be input against descriptive paragraphs; the portrait format has the photographs grouped after descriptions.  The size of the photographs also differs, but that should be for the Circuit to discuss with the inspector.
8 Circulation of the Quinquennial inspection report
8.1 Chapels or ancillary property:  One digital copy of the report (either .pdf or word format) together with three ‘hard’ copies of the report and Schedule 'G' are to be sent to the Circuit Property Secretary, who will send one set to the local Property Secretary and one set to the District Property Secretary.  A copy of the report should be kept in the appropriate log book.

8.2 Manses or other housing:  One digital copy of the report (either .pdf or word format) together with three ‘hard’ copies of the report and Schedule 'E' are to be sent to the Circuit Manse Property Secretary who will send one set to the Circuit Steward and one set to the District Manses Committee Secretary.  A copy of the report should be kept in the appropriate log book.
9 Further specialist testing or inspections
9.1 The Quinquennial inspector may recommend further inspections or specialist testing of other services.  The managing trustees should ensure that such recommendations are carried out, the cost of which will be additional to the cost of the report.
10 Subsequent action by the church
10.1 Managing trustees have the responsibility for taking all necessary action recommended in the report, and the inspector will usually be willing to meet the trustees to discuss the position.  If further work is required, or the preparation of drawings and specifications, etc., then an appropriate fee needs to be agreed.  The proposals may then need to become a project on the Consents website.
11 Subsequent action by the circuit
11.1 It is the duty of the circuit through the Circuit Property Secretary to monitor the managing trustees' response to the report, and to bring to the attention of the circuit and the District Synod any serious cases where the church seems unable to take appropriate action. The district in consultation with the circuit will then approach the managing trustees to determine the best course of action.

12 References
12.1 Please see further information on the Methodist web site:    These include: New to property – a brief introduction for property stewards  Gas services – inspection and testing  Electrical services –inspection and testing  Manses Electrical Safety – inspection and testing Manses: their valuation, acquisition & disposal  Asbestos  Appointment of quinquennial inspectors Guidance on commissioning artwork  Property Matters
See also: The Anglican Churchcare website for valuable guidance on the care and maintenance of church property
The National Churches Trust have webpages on managing church buildings: or their site for maintenance: 

Quinquinnial Inspector Appointments

For advice about quinquennial inspections generally please see the relevant handbook section.
1. General
1.1 A quinquennial inspector (QI) is a professional appointed by the circuit or the local church, to undertake quinquennial inspections (QQ) as set out in standing orders
1.2 The QI is normally appointed by the circuit, or the district for district property.  Any appointment needs to be confirmed in writing (see below) and recorded in the relevant minutes.
1.3 SOs require a QQ for all Methodist trust property, which includes not only churches, but also manses, caretakers accommodation, graveyards etc, unless excepted by SO 952(4)
1.4 The QI should be able to advise on other repairs, surveys or building schemes for that church or circuit, with a separate appointment to agree the appropriate services and fee.  
1.5 This is important if the QI has been appointed by the circuit, but is advising on a scheme for a local church.
1.6 The QI may be a practice or an individual.  Some denominations (eg Anglicans) require the QI to be a named individual, but Methodist SOs do not require this.
2. Suitable professionals
2.1 A suitable professional would normally be an architect or chartered building surveyor; a structural engineer or non-chartered surveyor (there are many types of surveyor) may be a suitable alternative.  A builder is not normally suitable (in part, because they will not normally carry professional indemnity insurance).  There is also an advantage in employing a professional who has carried out church inspections on previous occasion, for the Connexion or for the local Diocese.

2.2 The title “architect” is protected in law to those on the register of the Architects Registration Board; many architects are also members of the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects).
2.3 A “chartered surveyor” is a member (or fellow, etc, as appropriate) of the RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors).  The word “surveyor” has, strictly speaking, no legal or professional significance.
3. Basis of selection process
 Direct invitation to one individual  Limited competition (where three or four practices are invited to make a proposal)  Open competition (through advertisement in (eg) a local paper)
3.1 If the circuit is satisfied with the existing QI, then a direct invitation to continue may be the best option, but otherwise competition is the most appropriate way to proceed in line with procurement guidelines.
4 Considerations
4.1 When making a selection, great care must be taken to ensure that like is compared to like.  For instance, it cannot be expected that a national (or international) practice based in a major city would be able to quote a similar fee to that of a sole practitioner in a rural location; additionally, a sole practitioner may not need to charge VAT.  If the size and scale of the church or other property is sufficient to merit the appointment of a QI who is able to offer the expertise of a large practice, then a sole practitioner will not be suitable.
4.2 If the building is listed, in a conservation area, or of historic or heritage importance, the necessity to have regular inspections by architects and surveyors who specialise in the conservation and repair of such buildings cannot be over-emphasised.  Historic and 'traditional' structures deteriorate in a manner that is very different from modern buildings and it takes a specialist to correctly distinguish defects that require attention from the superficial results of the ageing process.  Also, not selecting an appropriate appointment can affect your ability to attract grants and other funds.  English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund state that "not all architects or chartered building surveyors have the appropriate experience in historic buildings", and the employment of ‘appropriate’ professionals is often stipulated as one of the standard conditions of grant aid.
 5 Locality
5.1 The QI should normally be based in the local area, because it is important to be familiar with the history and character of that locality.  You should take advantage of their expertise to ask for occasional visits to advise of potential problems.  QIs who are based a long way from the church concerned are rarely able to offer a satisfactory service.
6 Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII)
6.1 PII is a very complex subject, but essentially it is an insurance policy to cover a claim in the event of defective design (and certain other areas).  
6.2 Architects, and all surveyors who are members of the RICS, should have PII, but some builders, designers, technicians and draughtsmen may not.  Lack of PII can mean much lower fee quotes, but is unwise and cannot be recommended.  A common recommendation for the level of PII required is a minimum of £250,000 ‘each and every claim’ basis.  
7 Time scale for submission
7.1 Information sent to each practice should include a date (and address) for return of the submission.  At least three weeks should be allowed – asking for replies within a week is unreasonable and may result in no replies at all.  The information you are requesting can take some time to compile, particularly if visits are needed, and many practices will have to fit this into an already busy timetable.
8 General Points
8.1 You may be embarking on a long-term relationship with your architect or surveyor – changing a QI every five years is not a good way to proceed.  So your documentation should stress that you are looking for a 15 to 20 year commitment.  This reemphasises the need to avoid a submission based just on lowest cost.
8.2 The Anglican system, which has been in place since 1955, has worked on the basis that the QI should be offered the opportunity to be appointed advisor for any subsequent scheme at the building.  This system works on the basis that there will be a lower charge for a QQ, because the costs will be covered by fees on a larger project.  This is obviously a crucial aspect, and the trustees need to be very clear about whether it is proposing such a system.  A practice which is not offered any other work may charge a higher fee for a QQ.

8.3 It is important to build a relationship with your QI, by keeping in touch from time to time – not just a brief request coming out of the blue once every five years!  Discuss any property problems with them – a brief annual discussion can be worthwhile, perhaps before completing the schedule A.
9 The decision
9.1 The principle of ‘best value’ should be applied as opposed to just taking the lowest cost submission.  In any event, you may find it is impossible to directly compare monetary costs.  Try instead to look at the previous experience of the practice concerned, their references, and whether they are sympathetic to Methodist aims.  The decision should be confirmed in writing, and recorded in the church/circuit minutes.
10 Likely costs
10.1 There has been much discussion about how QQs should be costed.  Particular points to bear in mind are:  Considerably more work is involved the first time that a QQ is prepared, than in subsequent ones – another reason why continuity is important.    The time spent on, and therefore the fee for, a report on a large, Victorian, city centre church, will be much higher than for a simple village chapel.    A listed building will require much more careful analysis than an unlisted one.  Remember that the submission process in itself is expensive: even a small practice has to charge its partners’ time at around £100 per hour, and possibly much more.  Preparation of submission documents, a church visit, and an evening meeting will probably amount to a minimum cost of £500 for the practice concerned, none of which will be directly recoverable.   A good working relationship and quality advice are sure to outweigh any possible saving made on a “lowest cost” basis.  It is vital that a note confirming that the decision will not be made on the basis of lowest cost is included in information sent to the various practices (see typical letter of invitation in the appendix below).
11 The report
11.1 The Managing Trustees should ask for the report to be submitted in a particular format which is consistent for all churches inspected.  This has advantages since the QI will be familiar with the structure of the report and improves on the current, somewhat haphazard, systems of reporting (occasionally of little value to the Managing Trustees).  The format for the report is discussed within ‘Quinquennial Inspections’ and samples are included there as an appendix.  

12. References
12.1 Please see further information on the Methodist web site:
12.2 The following organisations can provide a list of architects or surveyors who undertake QQs and church work, and who are based in your area: Royal Institute of British Architects: 66 Portland Place, London W1B 1AD.  The client’s advisory service can help with enquiries about finding an architect: tel 020 7307 3681,  
For an architect skilled in conservation work on older or listed buildings try the Register of Architects Accredited in Building Conservation (AABC):
For a chartered surveyor, contact the RICS: Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, 12 Great George Street, Parliament Square, London SW1P 3AD, tel 020 7222 7000,
The RIBA, RICS and other professional institutions all publish guidelines on appointing professionals.

Scotland's Church Trust
Scotland’s Churches Trust aims to advance the preservation, promotion and understanding of Scotland’s rich architectural heritage represented in its churches and places of worship of all denominations. Its purposes are:

  • to advance heritage and religion by the preservation and upkeep of churches and other places of worship, including churchyards; 
  • to encourage churches and other places of worship to open to welcome visitors, tourists and pilgrims; 
  • to advance education and promote understanding of the public about the history, art, architecture and traditions of churches and other places of worship and their position as a focal point in the community; and 
  • to provide grants or donations to other charitable or religious individuals, bodies or organisations with aims analogous to the foregoing purposes or, more generally, with the common purpose of maintaining churches and other places of worship. 

The Trust has been formed as a Scottish Charitable Trust (SCIO number: SC043105) following the merger of Scotland’s Churches Scheme and the Scottish Churches Architectural Heritage Trust. It is based at 15 North Bank St, Edinburgh EH1 2LP.
Scotland possesses a surprising and delightful diversity of buildings designed for worship, deriving in part from its complicated and rich church history.
The Trust incorporates the former Scotland’s Churches Scheme which was established in 1994. In 2012, the Scheme merged with Scottish Architectural Heritage Trust which had been formed in 1978 to assist congregations in the preservation and upkeep of their buildings. The present
Scotland’s Churches Trust has more than 1300 churches in membership operating an ‘open doors’ policy.
These churches are spread across Scotland and across all the religious denominations. They contain a significant part of the nation’s heritage with the major proportion being ‘listed’ buildings, many being Category A.
Scotland’s Churches Trust successfully promotes access to the nation’s ecclesiastical heritage, with many of our buildings - large and small, urban and rural - in membership. The success to date, over a relatively short period, is hugely encouraging and has the potential of further raising awareness of our spiritual heritage and making it more accessible to a wider audience.

Maintain your Church
The Church Buildings Maintenance in Scotland project is designed to provide learning modules, toolkit modules and resources that will enable you to increase your knowledge of how to maintain your church.
The Maintenance Articles section on the Scotland’s Churches Trust website contains articles for study. The site also provides answers to problems generally experienced in maintaining a church and information about the architectural features found in Scottish churches.
There is further guidance in the downloadable materials, and you also have the opportunity to take part in discussion with other people involved in maintaining churches. In addition, you can jump-start your search by looking at the site’s FAQs. 

Scotland: The Church Buildings Renewal Trust
The Church Buildings Renewal Trust (CBRT) is a registered charity and company limited by guarantee. It was set up in Glasgow “to promote, for the public benefit, the conservation of church buildings of architectural merit or historic interest which have ceased to be used for religious purposes”.
(CBRT Memorandum of Association (1994))
The Church Buildings Renewal Trust has been at the forefront of conserving Glasgow’s ecclesiastical heritage since 1994. In its role as an ‘influencing trust’ it has played a key part in advocating the renewal of all church buildings throughout Scotland to prevent redundancy regardless of denomination.
The CBRT is not funded by any organisation; its income is derived from funds raised through events and gifts. Trustees meet bi-monthly and voluntarily. The principal aim of the CBRT, as outlined in the Memorandum of Association (1994), is to promote the conservation of (Glasgow’s) ecclesiastical fabric and help identify solutions to bring redundant church buildings back into community life. The CBRT aims to stimulate discussion and publicise the issue of redundant churches; the focus is on bringing groups together to talk.
In this capacity, the CBRT has organised conferences and exhibitions in partnership with a number of other charitable trusts, coordinated Church Open Days and undertaken research into Glasgow’s churches in conjunction with the Mackintosh School of Architecture. The Trust advises on a range of issues, including effective maintenance and repair; appropriate adaptation and extension; and practicable alternative uses of redundant church buildings.
CBRT’s main aims
The main aims of the Church Buildings Renewal Trust are:

  • to promote, for the public benefit, the conservation of church buildings of architectural merit or historic interest which have ceased to be used for religious purposes 
  • to advance education and, in particular, to increase public knowledge and awareness of the architectural value of church buildings, the alternative uses to which such buildings may be put and the most effective means by which the maintenance, repair and/or adaptation of such buildings may be progressed.

Contact CBRT

The Church Buildings Renewal Trust 
c/o Saint Andrews in the Square
1 St Andrews Square 
Glasgow G1 5PP 
Tel: 0141 559 5902 
Fax: 0141 548 6029

General links
Building Conservation
Historic Religious Buildings Alliance:
The Historic Religious Buildings Alliance was set up in 2008 and brings together those working for a secure future for historic religious buildings. 
Useful links for Scottish churches
Scotland’s Churches Trust: 
Scottish Church Heritage Research: 
For advice on maintenance of churches:  
For churches looking to do work with their buildings around climate change:
Historic Scotland’s technical advice notes can also be very helpful:
Septic Tanks

Legislation & guidance
Many rural churches which are situated away from mains drainage and sewer pipelines have to rely on septic tanks for their disposal of waste water etc. There are strict guidelines regarding what types of septic tank systems or packaged treatment plants can be installed and where they can be located.
Up until April 2010 a consent to discharge was required by the Environment Agency but this has now been replaced by permit to discharge as part of the Environmental Permitting Programme, second edition (EPP2). Exemption forms are available for sewage treatment plants discharging 5 cubic metres per day or less into surface water (the equivalent of a population of 27) or for septic tanks and packaged treatment plants discharging 2 cubic metres per day or less into groundwater (the equivalent of a population of 11).
The requirement to register small domestic sewage discharges from septic tanks and small sewage treatment plants has changed in England, as a result of regulations made in 2010 by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Welsh Government, as part of the implementation of the European Union Water Framework Directive. Registration was considered to provide the lightest touch approach to meet legal obligations.
It is important that Church Councils are conversant with the Environment Agency’s Regulatory Position Statement 116 for details of registration and penalties for nonregistration. Registration was required by January 2012.
Specialist guidance on the specific requirements and location for the installation are recommended; every site and situation is different and a specialist contractor should visit the site before site specific recommendations are made. Site visits may also be required by the relevant agencies prior to permission being granted for certain installations.
General guidelines include:

  • Septic tanks should have a capacity below the level of the inlet of at least 2,700 litres (2.7 cubic metres) for up to 4 users. The size should be increased by 180 litres for each additional user. 
  • All sewage treatment plants now for sale must have been tested and hold the EN 12566-3 2005 certificate
    • Septic tanks should be sited at least seven metres from any buildings, and preferably down slope and downwind.
    • The soakaway must be a minimum of 10 metres from a watercourse,  15 metres from a building and 50 metres from a borehole or spring. 
    • Where they are to be emptied using a tanker, they should be sited within 15 metres of a vehicle access point and at such levels that they can be emptied and cleaned without hazard to the building occupants and without the contents being taken through a dwelling or place of work. 
    • The soakaway must be designed to BS6297: 2007 and all percolation test results must be submitted
    • Soakaway drains must be constructed in the aerobic soil layer, i.e. within 700 mm of ground level.
    • If the discharge is to a soakaway, a sampling chamber must be provided before the soakaway. 
    • Septic tanks may also be constructed in brickwork, concrete, or reinforced concrete, roofed with heavy concrete slabs. Brickwork should be of engineering bricks and be at least 220 mm thick. The mortar should be a mix of 1:3 cement:s and ratio. In-situ concrete should be at least 150 mm thick of C/25/P mix.
    • The inlet and outlet of a septic tank should be designed to prevent disturbance to the surface scum or settled sludge and should incorporate at least two chambers or compartments operating in series. Where the width of the tank does not exceed 1,200 mm the inlet should be via a dip pipe. 
    • To minimise turbulence, provision should be made to limit the flow rate of the incoming foul water. For steeply laid drains up to 150 mm the velocity may be limited by laying the last 12 m of the incoming drain at a gradient of 1 in 50 or flatter. 
    • The inlet and outlet pipes of a septic tank should be provided with access for sampling and inspection 
    • Septic tanks should be provided with access for emptying and cleaning. Access covers should be of durable quality having regard to the corrosive nature of the tank contents. The access should be lockable or otherwise engineered to prevent personnel entry.

It is recommended that Church Councils as Managing Trustees examine the building and drainage regulations and visit the Environment Agency website for further information:
Also of use and with detailed explanation of the requirements are: 

Standing Orders relating to Property
CPD Part 9 details the various requirements for property and includes the following sections: 
Sec 90 Introductory and Interpretation 
Sec 91 Administration of Trusts
Sec 92 Use of Methodist premises
Sec 93 Projects
Sec 94 The Local Church
Sec 95  The Circuit
Sec 96 The District Sec
97 Connexional Priority Fund
Sec 98 Listed Building works
Sec 99 Property Development Committee.

We have not reproduced part 9 here due to its fluid nature and the ability of CPD to be amended.  Clicking through the link above or turning to page 631 of Volume 2 of the 2018 Constitutional Practice and Discipline of the Methodist Church will give required details.
For the DPS, Sec 96 is important and contain the following standing orders:

960 Appropriate District Authority
961 Projects 
962 Development Plan 
963 Advance Funds 
964 Supervision of Circuit Meetings 
965 Manses 
966 District Property 
However, the whole of Part 9 repays careful study because the clauses are interdependent. The district consent links with that of the circuit and any Connexional requirements.
At the very least, close collaboration is required with the Chair and others appointed in the scrutiny of schemes. Some Chairs will be able to give more attention to property matters than others.
It will be clear that much discussion about a scheme will go on between the local church and circuit before any Project is logged onto the Consents website.  

In addition, each church is encouraged to consult with the District officers about the mission and technical aspects of the project. This is a vital, formative stage in any scheme; the District officers should be seen as a resource to be used. The notification on the Consents website may come later as the formal submission of the scheme.

The Connexional property team hopes that property related matters will not be left solely to the district officers.  In some districts a property advisory panel meets regularly, and this enables the district to assemble an experienced body - architects, surveyors, accountants etc., able to pass a reasoned judgement on sketch proposals, financial arrangements and policy aspects. The Connexional team is also a valuable source of guidance (SO 303).

Where there is a major scheme for which grant application will be necessary, perhaps to the Rank Trust or other grant providers, Connexional Property Grants or the Priority Fund or District Advance Fund, or where other circuits will be encouraged to ‘port’ from their Circuit Model Trust Funds, the judgement of the property advisory panel will be passed on to the policy committee itself.
Within other parts of CPD there are specific references to responsibilities in relation to property – Part 4 to property matters within Districts, Part 5 to property matters within the Circuits, and Part 9 to provide for the general exercise within the District of very significant functions in relation to property projects of Circuits and Local Churches, and therefore Part 9 should always be consulted. See in particular the definition of ‘the appropriate district authority’ in SO 960(1).
Extracts from Parts 4 and 5 are included for reference. However, it is recommended that the full CPD should be checked after post-Conference publication to ensure relevant updates have been considered.
470 Responsibilities
The Synod shall appoint a secretary or secretaries for property for the matters specified in Standing Orders 472, 473 and 474 and in Section 96. See S.O. 961(2), 964, 966.
471 Advisory Panel
The Synod may appoint an advisory panel of persons qualified and experienced in property matters, estate management, town planning, administration or building design, to be consulted as desired.
472 Manses
The Synod shall appoint a district Manses Committee  See S.O. 965, 802, 803.
473 Archives
The Synod shall appoint a district archivist.
474 New Chapels
The district property secretaries shall call for and consider reports on the progress of the work and the state of the structure of those chapels within the District which have been opened … within the previous five years ….
475 Scotland 
The General Committee of the Relief and Extension Fund for Methodism in Scotland 
Section 53 The Circuit Stewards
530 Appointment
The Circuit Meeting shall annually appoint as circuit stewards two or more persons who are members in the Circuit or supernumeraries stationed there.
531 Responsibilities
The circuit stewards are responsible, with the Superintendent and the ministers and probationers appointed to the Circuit, for the spiritual and material well-being of the Circuit, and for upholding and acting upon the decisions of the Circuit Meeting. (See also SO 532 to 534, 540, 552 and 610). 

532 Circuit Fund
The Circuit stewards are the treasurers of the circuit fund.

533 Manses
The circuit stewards shall be responsible for the interior decoration, furnishing and energy efficiency of the manses.  For minimum furnishing requirements see S.O. 803(5).

As to energy efficiency see also the guidance in Book VII A, Parts 1 and 2. The Conference of 2010 directed that Circuits should endeavour to use model trust money to put in place these high standards of energy efficiency. It also directed that Circuits should endeavour to provide smart meter devices to enable ministers to control their electricity use.

Water Charges

Changes to charges in certain areas

Some churches will be aware that certain water and sewerage companies have introduced changes to the way in which they charge for their services and in particular the way in which surface water drainage charges are applied. As a consequence, some churches will have seen significant increases in their water charges – or indeed may have received a bill for the first time.

As this issue affects churches of all denominations the matter has been taken up ecumenically through the Churches Legislation Advisory Service (CLAS), the name of the new body that has replaced the Churches Main Committee.

OFWAT (the government’s independent regulatory body) has met representatives of CLAS and has explained that those water authorities that have introduced new charging arrangements have done so in response to their own recommendations. OFWAT considers this to be a fairer basis, which helps to redress an historic situation whereby some customers benefit from a subsidy, effectively at the expense of others.

England and Wales

By 2009, 4 out of the 10 water and sewerage companies in England and Wales had introduced charges to non-household customers for surface water drainage based upon site area, some on a phased basis, namely:

 Severn Trent - commenced 2000-01
Yorkshire Water - commenced 2001-02
Northumbrian Water - commenced 2006-07
United Utilities - commenced 2008-09

 It will be a matter for the other six water and sewerage companies to decide on when and whether to make similar changes to the way such charges are levied. It would be prudent to check on the current situation via the web links below.

The situation in Scotland is different as Scottish Water is publicly owned and the Scottish Government have stated that churches and small charities would remain exempt from these charges until 2014.

Basis of water company charges

For clarification, water company bills normally comprise three separate elements:

  1.  Water supply charges will vary depending upon whether the supply is metered or not. 
  2. Foul water drainage charges usually follow those for water supply, whether this is based upon measured volume via a water meter, or for example on a rateable value of the premises. Separate arrangements are likely to apply where foul drainage from the premises is to a septic tank rather than the foul water sewer. 
  3. Surface water drainage – this is where the main changes to water companies’ tariffs based on site area have, or are likely to, impact upon church’s bills.

Site area-based charges

Under site area-based charging, there are likely to be two elements:

  1. To reflect the amount of rainwater which falls upon roofs and non-permeable surfaces and drains to the public surface water sewer. 
  2. Highway drainage which may, for example in United Utilities case, constitute 50% of the total surface water drainage charge. 

In relation to the former, water companies should agree to a rebate for premises which can demonstrate that rainwater within their site falls on permeable ground (eg gardens, graveyards, gravel car parking areas) and/or from roof areas into soakaways. 

It is quite likely that customers will need to apply to the water companies for such rebates setting out the basis for their case. 

General guidance for Managing Trustees

In view of the above the following guidance is offered for Managing Trustees if and when they receive bills from their water company which differ from those they are used to:

  • Carefully check all elements of the bill to establish if they are correct; 
  • Check whether the premises drain to the public sewer or to soakaways; 
  • Check whether the plans used by the water company to calculate the site area charge are accurate and have been applied in accordance with the water company’s information. Then identify any portion of the site which does not drain to the public sewer; 
  • If there are grounds for the calculations to be reviewed, the Managing Trustees should apply to the company for a rebate. It is not recommended that payment is witheld, but if the Managing Trustees are unsure about the accuracy of the bill they should write to state that they do not agree with the Company’s calculation and give notice of their possible intention to appeal. 

If the Managing Trustees have a dispute with the way their water company has assessed their site area in the first instance they should raise it direct with the Company. If they have contacted the company and are still not happy, or if they find them to be uncooperative, they should ask their local Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) Committee to investigate. It would also be prudent to copy TMCP in on any formal correspondence concerning disputes.
 The Churches Legislation Advisory Service ( is continuing in its endeavours to take matters up with the appropriate government minister. This information will be updated in the light of further developments.
Further information is available on the websites of:

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