"Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain. " Psalm 127:1

Before the build begins, there are few questions to answer. 

  • Does everyone in the group know the timetable for the start and completion of works?
  • Have you got a system in place for monitoring progress on works?
  • Is your Risk Assessment document up to date?
  • Have you told your insurer that building works are about to take place?
  • Have you set up a chain of communication with your architect?

There are 3 supplementary pathways that may be relevant for the project and each pathway incorporate specific links, guidance and considerations for these types of projects.  The pathways are designed to be worked through methodically and and have been divided into bitesize steps.  Thus, it is recommended that with this step, you begin with Step 7 of the core pathway followed by Step 7 of a supplementary pathway, as dictated by the parameters of the project.  

Click below to view the supplementary guidance for Step 7 of each pathway.  

Step 7 Conservation & Listed Pathway 

Step 7 Net Zero Carbon Pathway

Step 7 Partnerships Pathway  

Click here to move back to Step 6 

Click here to move forward to Step 8 

To Do List

1. Work Programme

It is important that everyone in your group is aware of the works programme, i.e. when works are due to start and when they are due to complete. Any building project needs to be regularly monitored to ensure that there is advance warning of delays to the timetable due to unforeseen additional works or an increase in costs. 

Your Risk Assessment along with the Risk Register should have set out what has been done to ensure such risks are minimal and also describe what action will be taken if delays occur. Your architect will be taking the lead in monitoring the quality of the works and ensuring that the works are being executed as set out in the specification and drawings and keeping tabs on progress.  Be sure to check that a health and safety plan for the site has been prepared.  You can find out more about the client’s responsibilities for health and safety on HSE's A short guide for clients on the Construction.

However, it is a good idea to appoint someone from the group to be the main contact point with the architect so that regular progress reports can be fed back to the group. They can also be the person whom the architect contacts if a decision is needed.  It is recommended to make a plan for regular site meetings.  

Keep a photographic record as the works progress. They are good for exhibitions and later displays on the history of the building and some funders will require them.

The National Churches Trust has a very useful section on their website on managing building projects.  

The Churchbuild website, set up by Archangel Architects, provides a very helpful framework and practical information on developing and managing a building project. 

2. Pre-Contract Meeting

It is quite normal for a Pre-Contract meeting to be held with all parties including client (church rep), design team and the contractor.  This is designed to be the point at which the various parties agree the plan for the way ahead during the building works.  It will broadly cover the following agenda items, but this may vary depending upon the project. Here is a link to search up any terms that are unfamiliar.  

  • Make introductions and issue contact details (perhaps a project directory).
  • Clarify roles, responsibilities and lines of communication.
  • Agree meeting schedules, meeting structures and attendees.
  • Handover outstanding documents (such as insurance certificates and bonds) and issue outstanding information (which may including any variations made since the contract was awarded).
  • Issue nomination instructions.
  • Discuss the contractor's master programme, including incorporation of works outside of the main contract, inspections, commissioning and testing.
  • Discuss the role of the project team members (including site inspectors).
  • Agree procedures for monitoring, issuing, receiving and reviewing information (including the information release schedule if there is one, and its relationship with the contractor's master programme). This may include a distribution matrix.
  • Agree site access procedures and issues.
  • Agree site induction procedures and other health and safety issues.
  • Agree procedures for dealing with queries.
  • Agree procedures for issuing instructions.
  • Hand over contractor's procurement schedule.
  • Mobilisation schedule and status.
3. Use of the Church During the Works

In Step 5, you will have decided if the building is to be used during the works or if the church is to be temporarily re-located.  At this stage, you will need to implement those plans. Please notify and discuss with TMCP as necessary as well as any other stakeholders and/or third party users.    

4. Keep Everyone Informed

Put up an exhibition and display drawings and plans, models (if you have them) and photographs. You could make it part of your brief that your architect provides regular, brief update reports on progress and developments at the church council and/or circuit meetings. There may be opportunities to offer to take groups e.g. local history societies, schools etc. on tours to see previously unseen or rarely seen parts of the church. You may be able to provide the chance to go up scaffolding, but check health and safety factors with your architect, contractors and insurers first. Take photos to show those still on the ground and for your records!

5. Control of Noise and Pollution

Most building works will produce dust and mess. You have to ensure that precautions are taken to protect the interior and fixtures and fittings e.g. the organ while works are ongoing. This should be picked up by your architect in the tender documentation but do check.

Be a good neighbour and talk to residents and businesses nearby if they are going to be affected e.g. additional traffic, temporary road closures. A good contractor will also regularly do this on your behalf during the construction works.

6. Insurance relating to Building Works

If you intend to start major alterations, renovations or repairs, it’s important that you inform your insurance company so they can consider the effect the work will have on your policy and ensure that the correct cover is in place for the building works themselves. If using volunteers make sure your insurance company has a full understanding of the nature of their involvement. 

For early stage budgeting, when you might be using build costs provided by the architect include an allowance for the additional premium the contractor will pay to obtain £10m of cover. Usually, the work under construction and the materials involved are the responsibility of the contractor and you don’t need to do anything. But, if you’ve signed a formal contract, which makes you liable to insure these, then you must definitely inform your insurer. Check with your architect early on before construction commences so you have time for this to happen. Further guidance can be found on the Ecclesiastical website and on the Methodist Insurance website

It is also useful at this point to speak with your insurer about Interim Valuations of the property. 

7. Managing Change and Cost Control

Changes to the design should be avoided beyond this stage unless absolutely necessary.  Whilst changes due to site conditions may sometimes be necessary, particularly when working with existing buildings. For example, changes can result from necessary design modifications, differing site conditions, material availability, value engineering (cost reduction) and impacts from third parties such as statutory authorities, to name just a few. There needs to be clear communication about the reason for change, and good cost control on the part of the architect, QS and builder, possibly looking at value engineering in other areas to keep the overall budget on track.

As the client, you should be advised about changes to the budget, and any changes to costs that will affect the budget and you should agree the parameters of that with your architect at the beginning of the project, as this may impact on your funding strategy.  Be sure to track any changes of cost and update the budget regularly.  Your funder may also need to give consent to budget changes and particularly to the use of contingencies so ensure that there is a clear system for communicating all of these project elements should they arise. All changes need to be recorded to show what was actually constructed, so that the client has a final record set of as-built drawings for future maintenance.

It is important that everyone in your Group is aware of the costs of the project. Do review and monitor the budget on a monthly basis together with the financial reports from the QS or architect.

8. Managing Cash Flow

Once you have successfully managed to obtain sufficient funding for your building project for it to become a reality, one of the biggest problems you may find will be managing the cash flow while the works are in progress. Cash flow refers to how money flows in and out of the project, and how much money you have in hand at any one time. Few funders pay the whole grant amount up front, which means that sometimes, without careful planning, you will suffer cash flow problems.

One of the most important things to consider is organising your cash flow so that you can pay any contractor in a timely manner when they submit an invoice. They may have a workforce who need to be paid or materials that need to be paid for. Organise your cash flow so that the contractor is not put in a difficult position. They deserve to be paid in a prompt and timely manner.  There is useful information on the TMCP's Finance page and you should speak with TMCP Finance about making payments and cash flow.   

Firstly though, you need to be aware of the different types of funding a project may require, that funders may or may not offer. You will be receiving some money for the development and building stage and other money for the longer-term running of the project.

Having your own reserves is important. Many funders will expect your community group to make a small financial contribution to the project anyway – perhaps 10%. However, this reserve may also prove useful for your cash flow too as it may help you have money in hand when you need it.

It would helpful to speak with TMCP Finance about the mechanics of cash flow during this time.  

9. Building Project Cash Flow

Having more than one funder may feel more complicated than it needs to be, however, if they have different payment schedules, this can be a benefit. Funder A may release 50% of their grant money at the start of the project, while Funder B will only release grant money against paid expenditure. This means that you can use the first grant payment from Funder A to pay the first invoices you receive. These then become ‘paid’ invoices, which enables you to claim a grant payment against them from Funder B. This money then enables you to pay more invoices, and so on.

10. Cash Flow Forecasts - Capital and Revenue

Cash flow forecasting is the estimation of income and expenditure of your project over a given period (including timings and amounts). It is a tool to plan the project’s expected budget over the length of the project. 

Capital Cash Flow
You must work with your architect to ensure, that while it can never be 100% accurate, it does provide an indication of where financial problems may occur and gives you time to plan and manage any financial risks. Forecasting is based on past performance and on ‘best guess’ information regarding figures and the knowledge of your professional adviser, your architect. As time goes by, forecasts should be checked against actual performance to make sure no significant variance has occurred.

Revenue (Future) Cash Flow
Community use of a church building will incur various expenses including utilities, insurance costs, and ongoing maintenance. As part of your project plan, you will have identified these (Step 5).

Plan to review these costs on a regular basis so you can assess whether you need to make changes to any sources of income the project generates. Rental fees should keep in line with inflation and will have to go up along with all your other costs will. You should have already considered this as part of the business planning stage and when looking at the project’s economic sustainability.

As an example, if a group’s total expenditure over the next six months is well below their income for the period (£1,520 compared to £5,240). However, because the grant doesn’t come in until the end of the period (June), there is a risk that their bank account becomes overdrawn before they receive the grant. By using cash flow forecasting in this way, the group or organisation can identify a possible shortfall in its finances and take steps to remedy the situation before it becomes a problem. With a bit of planning and forward thinking, it’s possible to be able to keep cash flow problems to a minimum.

11. Top Tips for Managing Cash Flows
  1. Set up a spreadsheet or table with known dates of when you’ll need to pay out money, and when you can claim it from funders. Visualising the cash flow will illustrate any potential difficult periods.
  2. If you have different funders paying for different elements of your project, write on the back of the receipt/invoice which funder you can claim this expenditure from.
  3. Give each receipt a unique sequential number as you receive it. (001, 002, 003, etc.) Then you can record when you received it, when it was paid, and which funder’s grant you claimed it against.