Quinquennial Inspections

The Quinquennial Inspection Report (QI) is an essential document which assists the Circuit and Managing Trustees in the care and repair of their property.  SO952 requires the Circuit to arrange for an inspection of all local property by a suitable, professionally qualified person every 5 years.  The following guidance is intended to take Managing Trustees through this process and provide supporting templates and guidelines.

Quinquennial Inspections are required for all Model Trust property including:

  • All churches, halls, burial grounds, etc.
  • All manses or other housing 
  • Property on full repairing lease for less than 10 years (SO 952
  • Vacant property that is no longer required, without a lease but under Model Trust 13  

Please refer to the 'Standing Orders relating to Property' section on the Maintenance page for further information.    

Basics of a Quinquennial Inspection
  1. Quinquennial Inspections are mostly commonly carried out every 5 years and undertake a thorough survey of all aspects of a building's fabric. They are intended to identify problems which have developed since the last inspection and establish priorities for maintenance and repair over the next 5 year period to ensure the preservation of the fabric.

  2. The importance of the quality of the inspection and the subsequent report cannot be underestimated. The report in particular is crucial for Church Councils and Property Stewards to plan their repair and maintenance budgets over the next five years to ensure that works are carried out in a timely manner to a good standard.

  3. Church Councils who commission underqualified inspectors or accept deficient or incomplete reports are creating potentially longer term issues which may prove more costly than the initial repair.

  4. Methodist Insurance also undertakes a survey every 5 years, which is for insurance valuation and risk management purposes only. Although cover may not be dependent on a Quinquennial Report having been done, Trustees should be aware that claims may not be honoured if it becomes apparent that an incident was preventable if work identified by a QI had been undertaken.

  5. In the case of church buildings classed as listed buildings, the inspections should be carried out by individuals who have specific training and experience of working on heritage buildings. Heritage buildings will normally fall into the following categories:
  • Grade I (England & Wales); Grade A (Scotland)
  • Grade II* (England & Wales); Grade B (Scotland)
  • Grade II (England & Wales); Grade C (Scotland)
  • Locally Listed or of Local Significance (normally included on a Local Authority register or similar)
  • Included in a Conservation Area plan (normally included in Local Authority local planning documents)


The Importance of Good Stewardship of Property

Churches are at their most vulnerable when 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 best advice where the inspection and the repair of historic buildings are concerned.  Mistakes may not be immediately apparent but may leave an expensive legacy. 

Please note that all repair works and alterations for listed buildings need to be approved by the Connexional Conservation Officer.  

The neglect of church buildings or the avoidance of Quinquennial Inspections 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.

Ignoring a property issue will only lead to greater and mostly costly problems. It is important that property matters are addressed collectively and in a planned way so that resources, particularly financial, can be channelled to address the issue in a timely way.  There are grants available for repairs or larger projects so please contact the Connexional team for further information.

Appointing a Quinquennial Inspector - General Guidance

All Managing Trustees should ensure that their QI’s are up to date and that the recommendations of the report are taken seriously and undertaken in a timely manner.  A crucial part of the inspection is to appoint the right professional individual to undertake the inspection.

  1. Quinquennial Inspectors (QI) must be engaged on a professional basis, using a standard letter of engagement.  Sometimes the professional concerned will have their own appointment document, which is also acceptable but managing trustees should be satisfied with the arrangements, terms and conditions. There should be a named person as the Inspector, even if they are employed by a larger professional practice.

  2. The QI is normally appointed by the Circuit, or the District for District property. Their appointment needs to be confirmed in writing and recorded in the relevant minutes.  Please note that there could an economy of scale if the same inspector was booked for multiple churches/manses within a circuit.  As well, there could be a savings if multiple inspections were booked and access equipment could be shared.  

  3. The agreement should always include an agreed fixed fee for the work outlined in the agreement. Many inspectors will agree to attend a Church Council to discuss the report - it should be expected that this would be included within the fee quote.  It is advisable for a church/circuit to include the cost of inspection plus any access arrangements within the budget.  

  4. To assist the production of any quotation, the managing Trustees need to confirm who will provide adequate access (e.g. providing or hiring a cherry picker to allow for a safe inspection of roofs, voids in roofs, sub-floors, etc) and how to address these areas which are not regularly accessed.  Even if access is difficult, it is of vital importance to make these arrangements because the roof and floors make up 75% of the inspection report.  
  5. It is acknowledged that familiarity with a property means that there are some benefits to successive QI’s being undertaken by the same Inspector. However, this is not a substitute for the quality of the inspection – it’s better to start again with a new engagement if reports do not meet the required standard.

  6. Inspectors should submit a comprehensive list of similar inspections carried out.

  7. The QI should be able to advise on other repairs, surveys or building schemes for that church/circuit, with a separate appointment to agree the appropriate services and fee. This is important if the QIR has been appointed by the circuit, but is advising on a scheme for a local church.

  8. Despite the recommendations contained in other parts of this guidance relating to longer term partnerships, managing trustees should note that the agreement for the Quinquennial Inspection is only for this inspection and report not for further inspections or additional support. This should be agreed separately at the relevant time.
Appointing a Quinquennial Inspector - The Selection Process

Managing trustees can decide which inspector is best suited to their situation but the main options are:

  • Direct invitation to one individual
  • Limited competition (where three or four practices are invited to make a proposal)
  • Open competition (through advertisement in e.g. a local paper)

If the circuit is satisfied with the existing Inspector, then a direct invitation to continue may be the best option.  Otherwise competition is the most appropriate way to proceed in line with accepted construction procurement guidelines.

When drawing up a short-list for tender invitation, 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 Inspector who is able to offer the expertise of a large practice, then a sole practitioner will not be suitable.  It must also be borne in mind that cost should not be the sole driver for appointment but a combination of good quality experience, ability to carry out the inspection properly and value for money.

Timescale for Submission

Tender submission requests sent to individuals or practices should include a date and time deadline for receipt of submissions (along with a return address).  The normal minimum timescale for submissions is 3 weeks from the date of the invitation letter. 

It should be considered also that some practices may wish to visit the site, and therefore the Managing Trustees should make a person available during the tender period to show people around the building in order not to delay the professional’s submission timescales.

Ongoing Potential Relationship with the Inspector

Quality, if the service notwithstanding, in many cases churches can benefit from the appointment of a Quinquennial Inspector as a longer term professional partnership of advice and support. Many professionals will be looking for this in order to provide an initial competitive fee quote.

You may be embarking on a long-term partnership with your architect or surveyor – changing a Inspector every five years is not necessarily a productive approach.  The tender documentation can emphasise that the church is looking to build a longer term partnership of a reasonable timescale.  This reemphasises the need to avoid a submission based just on lowest cost.

Although at the discretion of the Church Council, it can be useful to the establishing of a longer term partnership and support, if the successful Inspector is offered the opportunity to be appointed advisor for any subsequent scheme at the building as well. This system works on the basis that there will be a lower charge for a QI, 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 QI.

It is also important to the partnership to keep in touch with the Inspector from time to time – not just a request for an inspection every 5 years.  Discuss any property problems with them – a brief annual discussion can be worthwhile, perhaps before completing the annual return.

Appointing a Quinquennial Inspector - Suitable Professional

A suitable professional would normally be an architect or chartered building surveyor or non-chartered surveyor may be a suitable alternative.  A builder is not normally suitable 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 occasions, either for the Connexion or for the local Diocese.

  • The title Architect  is protected in law to those on the register of the Architects Registration Board (ARB); many architects are also members of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).
  • A Chartered Surveyor  is a member (or fellow etc. as appropriate) of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas

In the case of Listed Buildings or buildings in Conservation Areas it is strongly recommended that the Quinquennial Inspector has additional accreditation in working with heritage buildings.  As a broad guide, there are 4 areas of expertise to consider:  Major Churches, Grade I or II* Churches, Grade II Churches or unlisted churches.  For more information on the difference within these categories, click here.  


The Inspector 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 on potential problems.  Inspectors who are based a long way from the church concerned are rarely able to offer a satisfactory service.

Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII)

PII is an insurance policy that all registered construction professions are mandatorily expected to have; this is a requirement for their continuing registration to their respective professional body.  The Inspector must have adequate PII in place. If the scope of the QI has increased since the last time, trustees should insist that the Inspector check that new work is covered by the policy.  For more information, please refer to the 'Professional Indemnity Insurance' section on the Maintenance page.   

Further References 

The main professional registration bodies have directories of members which are available online or by enquiry, they will also hold information on those most suitable for this type of work, and these directories are arranged geographically:

Architects Registration Board (ARB)
8 Weymouth Street, London W1W 5BU
E: info@arb.org.uk; T: +44 (0) 20 7580 5861

Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)
66 Portland Place, London, W1B 1AD
E: info@riba.org; T: +44(0)20 7580 5533

Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
12 Great George Street, London, SW1P 3AD
E: contactrics@rics.org; T: +44 (0)24 7686 8555

For guidance on a professional also skilled/qualified in work on heritage buildings, you can also refer to:

The Register of Architects Accredited in Building Conservation (AABC)
41 Bengal Street, Manchester M4 6AF
E: administrator@aabc-register.co.uk; T: 0161 832 0666


Appointing a Quinquennial Inspector - Making the Decision
  1. The principle of ‘best value’ should be applied to the final decision, not just the lowest cost.

  2. The Assessment/Scoring Criteria and Selection of an Inspector Template creates a weighted scoring system for selection which takes into account cost, but also other crucial criteria such as experience, qualifications and references.

  3. The decision should be confirmed in writing, and recorded in the church/circuit minutes; the consultant concerned may also have their own official appointment document for these matters. Either option should outline the scope of the work to be provided, the basic fee and expenses, exclusions from the agreement and also some other basic terms and conditions of the appointment.  It is very important that such a document is in place and signed by both parties before work commences.

  4. If the Inspector undertakes further work beyond the report, then this will normally lead to another fee proposal with an additional agreement document as opposed to an extension of the existing agreement. This gives clarity to all parties.
Guidance on Potential Costs

Cost is a very subjective a matter, and can be influenced by location, workload and other external factors. It is worth considering the following points as a guide:

  • Considerably more work is involved the first time that a QI 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 must 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 invitation letter template).
Preparing for the Inspection

The Circuit should request managing trustees to carry out the following prior to the inspection:

  1. Appointment:  Ensure that an agreement and fee has been agreed and signed with the Inspector.

  2. Logbook:  Provide the Inspector with a copy of the Church Log Book & Inventory; the managing trustees are required to maintain a logbook containing previous Quinquennial Inspection reports, details of repairs and other relevant information.

  3. Additional Information:  It is advisable to undertake any specialist investigations and reports prior to the inspection, and provide the Inspector with this information.  The Inspector will want to refer to these in the final QI Report. These investigations could include:
    - Statement of Significance and/or Conservation Management Plan if the building is listed or in a conservation area.
    - Written test reports on asbestos and the heating, electrical, fire protection and lightning systems.
    - Arboriculture and ecological reports (e.g. bats or other protected or rare species).

  4. Building Defects:  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)

  5. Keys: Provide all necessary keys to access all areas of the building.

  6. Access Arrangements:  Agree any special access arrangements for roofs, voids in roofs, sub-floors and other areas that are not regularly accessed.  The location of secured ladders should be brought to the attention of the Inspector.   If the right ladders are not available on site, one should be sourced (perhaps from a builder).  Please note that the use of ladders should follow current HSE safety guidelines for working at height (https://www.hse.gov.uk/work-at-height/index.htm).
During the Inspection
  1. Where the inspection is to be carried out by one Inspector, it is essential for a second person to be available on site throughout the inspection day for safety reasons and to offer assistance with ladders, hatches etc.  This should be agreed in advance with the Inspector.

  2. Pre-arrange any suitable equipment for inspecting high level areas, such as Mobile Elevated Work Platform or scaffold tower.  Any additional labour costs  for hiring and operating the equipment should be agreed in advance.  It may be more practical for the Inspector to pre-arrange the special access equipment.  This, however, could result in additional fees, which should be agreed in advance.  

  3. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (Drones) may also be used to supplement the visual inspection if legally and properly supervised with appropriately trained and certificated personnel as well as permission from neighbours as necessary.

  4. Access to roofs for the inspection also gives a good opportunity for the gutters to be cleaned.  However,  this should be undertaken by a separate contractor.

  5. Bells should be down on the day of the inspection. The ringers should be asked to report on any problems with the ring.

  6. Keep your Inspector up to date with any initiatives in relation to energy saving and other environmental issues.


The Quinquennial Report - Expectations & General Requirements


The report should be presented in a consistent format to enable Managing Trustees and Circuit/ District officers to have a good overview about the condition of the property.  It is acceptable for Managing Trustees to seek clarification from the Inspector on any items that are not clear or explained in enough detail.

The inspection report can be in either landscape or portrait format. The advantage of the landscape version 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.

Click here to view a template for a  Quinquennial Report.  

Report readership

The report should be clear enough to be understood by those from a non-technical background and in a language that avoids ‘jargon’ or unexplained acronyms. The report’s distribution can extend beyond the managing trustees and therefore, it needs to be accessible to those not immediately familiar with the property.

Content of the report

It should be expected that the first and subsequent reports should contain a similar level of detail and analysis, even if it is produced by the same Inspector.  In broad terms, the report should include particulars of the site and the buildings including some description of the building and its history.  The main body of the report should cover such matters as works since the last inspection:

  • General condition of the building
  • Summary of repairs needed
  • Recommendations for further detailed or specialist inspections.

As well, the report should 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.

Repair Priorities

The colour coding of the priority for works is requested (e.g. red for utmost urgency, orange for within next year, green within the next five years).

Additional Photographs

It is extremely useful for Managing Trustees to have additional photographs of areas that are difficult to see or inaccessible, for example:

  • Roofs (though access to roof areas, including loft spaces can be problematical).
  • Voids under floor.
  • Towers and awkward spaces.
  • A digi-camera with a telephoto lens can help in pin-pointing roof, gutter and high area issues.
  • Valley gutters that could be full of leaves of debris.

Work beyond the report 

Managing Trustees should be aware that a Quinquennial Inspection report must not be regarded as a specification for repairs.  However, the Inspector could be asked to specify and arrange for the works to be carried out. 

For listed buildings, the works will also need to be approved by the Connexional Conservation Officer.  

It is expected that reports are produced as quickly as possible following the inspection, so that essential works can be undertaken in a timely manner.  Managing Trustees should expect and request a draft report within 1 month and final report within 2 months.

Chapels & Ancillary Properties
Number of Copies:

  • 1 digital copy of the report (either pdf or word format) to be sent to DPS and Superintendent Minister
  • 3 paper copies of the report and Schedule G are to be sent to the Circuit Property Secretary, who will then send to the local Property Secretary and the District Property Secretary
  • A copy of the report should be kept in the appropriate logbook.

Manses & Other Housing
Number of Copies:

  • 1 digital copy of the report (either .pdf or word format)
  • 3  paper copies of the report and Schedule E are to be sent to the Circuit Manse Property Secretary, who will then send to the Circuit Steward and to the District Manses Committee Secretary.
  • A copy of the report should be kept in the appropriate logbook.
Standard Limitation or Disclaimer Clauses

Managing Trustees should be aware that it is normal for any survey to note various exclusions or limitations.  There are normally good reasons for this, such as Health & Safety, and some are required by the inspector’s professional indemnity insurance policy.  The following are typical clauses which can 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 that 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.


After the Completion of the Report

It is recommend that the schedule of works from any Quinquennial Reports should be reported to the next meeting of the church council.

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.

Managing Trustees have the responsibility for taking all necessary action to deal with matters indicated in the report and within the timescales outlined.

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.

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.  For listed buildings, an accredited and qualified professional should carry out these investigation.  Please contact the Connexional Conservation Officer for more advice.  

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.  Please note that any addition work by the Inspector beyond the scope of the original report can incur additional fees.  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 agreed, plus any additional expenses and VAT.

If any subsequent repairs are undertaken, it may be necessary to register the works on the Property Consents website  to obtain formal consent for the proposed work.  If the building is Listed or in a Conservation Area, then statutory consents will be required and works must be discussed with the Connexional Conservation Officer before progressing.


For further information please refer to:





For a printable version of this guidance, click here.  

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