Most church buildings in the Diocese are subject to a piece of legislation called the Inspection of Churches Measure. This stipulates that a PCC should appoint an architect to look after its church building and to carry out a condition survey every five years. Your church should already have an inspecting architect in the post. If you don’t know who that is, please contact the Care of Churches Office.
A parish is entitled to dismiss its existing inspecting architect and to appoint a replacement. There are various reasons why you might want to do this. Your existing architect may be moving on or retiring. You may be embarking on a project which requires more time than your present architect can give. You may simply have found an alternative with whom you think you could have a better working relationship. If you’re thinking about doing that, contact the Care of Churches Officer for advice.
The Diocese maintains a list of architects who are approved to work on churches. Provided you select an architect on this list, the change is largely a formality. But it’s worth approaching several candidates before you make a choice. Get a sense of what they do, how well they understand church life and what their workload is – good architects are always in hot demand, but think carefully before appointing someone who may be oversubscribed. Don’t stick to the familiar names and cast your net widely. Tell candidates a bit about your building (don’t assume prior knowledge on their part), how you use it and what your vision for it is. Are there any major fabric repairs to be addressed? Are you considering any development projects? What’s your vision for the church in the next 5-10 years?
It’s really important to take a long-term view. Your relationship with your inspecting architect needs to endure, develop and be nurtured. The importance of being able to accumulate knowledge of the building, the parish and its needs can’t be over-estimated. He or she will be your main source of advice for all fabric-related matters. It’s not essential to choose an architect who is based locally, but it can make sense if you think you’ll need to call on his or her services on a regular basis. If your building is listed at Grade II* or I, then you need to choose an architect who is conservation accredited and who has a proven track record of work with historic churches.
When you’re confirmed your choice, please let the Care of Churches Officer know so that he can update records and report the change the DAC at the next meeting of the full committee. It’s possible to appoint an architect who isn’t on the list, but in that case the choice will have to be approved by the DAC. Please inform your previous architect that his/her services are no longer required and ensure that you clear any outstanding liabilities to him/her. If the next quinquennial inspection is about to fall due, make sure you arrange it as soon as possible with the new architect.