The Synod supports the mission and ministry of our local churches.
Who We Are
Who's who at URC Thames North Synod?
A list of committees at URC Thames North Synod.
Find out about the structure of the United Reformed Church.
There are approximately 1500 local United Reformed Churches Across England, Scotland and Wales.
Thames North Trust
Find out about the Thames North Trust.
What We Do
How we undertake a range of functions to support our local churches.
Discipleship Steering Group
The DSG at the forefront of our commitment to whole life discipleship.
Children & Youth
News on our children's and youth work and activities.
Support for those working with children, young people and adults at risk of harm.
Church & Society Network
The Church & Society Network explores various church and society issues.
Work With Us
Current job vacancies within the Thames North Synod and our partner organisations.
Find a Local Church
Directory of our local churches within the Thames North Synod.
Weekly e-newsletters from the Synod.
Thames North Synod gathers for full Synod meetings 2-3 times a year.
Information and documents relating to Church Premises.
Health & Safety
Health & Safety Policy for the United Reformed Church Thames North Synod.
Additional resources & downloads.
A Quinquennial Inspection of buildings is one way of assisting Church Members in the management of their buildings and manse. It provides a statement of the condition of the buildings and includes assessments of maintenance priority together with an idea of cost. It further ensures that the resources available to the Church Members are used to the best effect and as economically as possible.
In the case of church buildings that are Listed Buildings there has been a legal requirement since the beginning of 1995 under the Ecclesiastical Exemption (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Order 1994 for inspections on a fixed cycle of not more than five years. This legal requirement covers all buildings within the curtilage of the Listed Building.
A suitably qualified Architect or Surveyor (The Consultant) must carry out inspections of Listed Buildings. For buildings outside of these circumstances it is recommended by Synod Grants Loans and Property Committee that a similarly qualified Consultant carries out the quinquennial Inspection. It is preferable in all cases that the appointed Consultant has experience of working in church buildings. The Synod Property Development Worker may be able to help you find a consultant.
Church Members are advised to be wary of appointing a Consultant who is a member of their own congregation as this can be very stressful in the event of anything going wrong.
The Consultant will inspect the buildings and submit a Report of the condition of the buildings listing the defects, repairs and maintenance works requiring attention so that they can be dealt with before they become unmanageable. The Report will also provide long term advice to Church Members and Synod on likely future expenditure.
Where Church Members need financial assistance towards the cost of works to their buildings the Consultant’s Reports enable the Synod Resources Committee to process applications for grants and loans. Applications for financial assistance will not normally be considered until a valid Quinquennial Inspection has been carried out.
It is hoped that all Church Members will appreciate the necessity for and value of Inspections and arrange for them to be carried out as described in this document.
The Inspection of Church Buildings and Manses
The Synod Property Development Worker has the responsibility for overseeing the arrangements for Quniquennial Inspection and churches will be reminded when an inspection is due, or overdue.
The arrangements for the Quinquennial Inspections are the responsibility of the Church Members but they are requested to adopt the procedure as detailed in this document.
The Consultant’s Service
The Consultant will inspect the whole of the Buildings and report on the items listed on the Synod approved standard layout.
The terms of the Brief for Consultants and Specialists should be noted as they limit the inspections to be carried out. The Consultant or specialist is required to include in their Reports any matters that from their experience require further inspection or investigation. The Church Members should arrange for these further inspections after agreeing the fees and expenses the Consultant and/or Specialists will charge.
Drainage, plumbing, hot and cold water services, heating, gas, electrical and ventilation installations will be inspected but not tested. The Consultant will note that these items are subject to specialist inspection (particularly gas, heating and electrical installations) and Church Members are urged to have annual contracts for routine servicing, checking and testing in accordance with legislation
The Consultant is required to take account of the building usage and the need for fire risk assessment/plan, health and safety requirements and provision for means of escape, asbestos surveys and risk assessments.
The Consultant is not required to carry out a full structural and condition survey. If such surveys are considered essential the Consultant’s terms of reference, fees and expenses for this type of survey should be agreed in advance.
Valuations of properties are not part of Quinquennial Inspections. If these are required Church Members are advised to obtain advice from an appropriate Valuer. The valuation of church property and land is a specialist field.
The Consultant’s Report
The Consultant is required to prepare a Quinquennial Inspection Report following the survey. To make it easy to follow, a preferred layout is provided by Synod. Alternative layouts may be adopted but the information given should be the same. These will enable Church Members to make arrangements for the recommended work and the Consultant appointed to carry out the next Inspection to ascertain if the recommended work has been completed.
The Consultant is required to send three copies of their Reports to the Church, two copies for the Members, one copy for the Synod (for the attention of the Property Development Worker). In the case of Listed Buildings a fourth copy is required and should be sent by the Church Members to the Synod (for the attention of the Secretary of the Listed Buildings Advisory Committee).
The Consultant’s Fees
The Church Members should agree in writing a fee, including printing and travel expenses and all VAT, with their chosen Consultant prior to any work being carried out and check that the Consultant has appropriate professional indemnity insurance.
The fee for any additional services required by the Church Members must be agreed in writing with the Consultant prior to such services being carried out.
The Synod has agreed to pay a maximum grant of 75% including VAT of the fee, with a minimum up to £600.00 including VAT towards the fee for a church building inspection and a minimum of £360.00 including VAT towards the fee for a manse inspection that is used to house a minister in pastoral charge. The Synod will not make an additional payment for separate halls.
Should Church Members be unable to meet the cost of inspections, less the Synod contributions, an application should be submitted to the Resources Committee for a grant or loan before instructing the Consultant.
The Ecclesiastical Exemption
If the church buildings are Listed Buildings all work to them is subject to the approval of the Synod Resources Committee. In the first instance details of the works must be submitted to the Synod Listed Buildings Advisory Committee which will, after carrying out consultations, recommend the Resources Committee to approve or not approve the works.
The Ecclesiastical Exemption procedures do not apply to manses unless they are within the curtilage of listed church buildings. In the event that a manse not within the curtilage of a church building is a listed building or is within a Conservation Area the Church Members should consult the Local Planning Authority before carrying out any work to the manse.
The Ecclesiastical Exemption procedures require that appropriate professional advice must be obtained before any works are carried out. On completion of the works the professional advisor is required to certify that the works have been carried out in accordance with the approval given by the Resources Committee.
Construction (Design & Management) Regulations (CDM 2015)
In certain cases, works arising from the Quinquennial Inspection fall within the provisions of these Regulations. The Church Members are required to ensure they fulfill their duties as the client. This will usually entail appointing a principal designer and principal contractor who themselves will have duties under the regulations.
If this is a requirement, it is recommended that fees are agreed with any professional prior to carrying out any building works.
On completion of any works the Health & Safety File should be deposited with the local church for future reference.
Where work is undertaken and a Health and Safety File already exists the File should be retrieved and handed to the principal designer or contractor as required
Further details regarding CDM 2015 are included in the Synod CDM guidance note.
Brief for Professionals
This brief sets out Thames North Synod requirements and describes the conditions applicable to consultancy appointments.
The object of the inspections is to assist the Local Church in the efficient management of church buildings. It ensures that the resources available to the Local Church for works to buildings are used to the best effect and as economically as possible. It also ensures that preventative action is taken to deal with building defects and repair and maintenance works before they become unmanageable.
The members of each Local Church are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of their own buildings and as such will appoint a Consultant direct to carry out the Inspections on the conditions set out in the brief.
The appointment is to be in writing and is to include:
Brief for Consultants
Upon appointment the Consultant is to visit the buildings and carry out Inspections of them. The Inspections are to be carried out in accordance with the practice and standards normally expected from a member of the Consultant’s Professional Institute.
Unless otherwise agreed, the Inspections are to be carried out on the following basis:
The findings of the Inspections are to be recorded in Quinquennial Inspection Reports. Further details to amplify or clarify particular matters of concern are to be appended to the Reports.
The relative urgency of the need for repairs or maintenance is to be reported under one of the following headings:
Where exceptional circumstances are discovered, such as severe or recent structural movement requiring immediate action, the Consultant is to make an Interim Report describing the circumstances and recommending the action required.
Where total replacement of any major element, such as roof coverings, is recommended the Consultant is to give good reasons to support his/her conclusions.
Where, after agreeing with the Church Members the fees and expenses to be charged, the Consultant can appoint specialists to provide advice on specific aspects such as building services, damp penetration, timber decay, etc. The specialist’s reports are to be appended to the Consultant’s Report.
The Consultant is to also include in their Report observations concerning:
The Consultant is to provide the Church Members with three copies of their Report and Appendices, with an additional copy in the case of Listed Buildings.
The Consultant’s Professional Indemnity Insurance
The Consultant is to effect and keep in force Professional Indemnity Insurance cover of not less than £500,000 (five hundred thousand pounds) for each and every event and unlimited in aggregate in any one insurance year.
Details of the insurance, and annual renewal certificates, are to be made available to the Church Members if requested by them.
The Consultant’s Fees and Expenses
The Basic fee for carrying out the Inspections and submitting the copies of Reports must be agreed in writing by Church Members prior to any work being carried out.
Any additional services required by the Church Members will be agreed with the Consultant prior to such services being carried out
Printing and travel expenses, but not travelling time, will be paid in addition to the basic fee and the Consultant is to give an indication of these costs before his/her appointment.
Value Added Tax is to be added to the fees and expenses at the rate current at the time of submitting the Report.
The Consultant’s invoice for fees and expenses is to be submitted with the Report and payment will be made within 28 days.
It is recommended by Synod that in addition to the Quinquennial Inspection Church Members should carry out an Annual Inspection and report on the state and condition of all church properties including the Manse. This should be done in accordance with the Annual Inspection Questionnaire guidance note.
A large print version of this document is available upon request. Contact Synod Office: 020 7799 5000
Guidance Notes for Quinquennial Inspections 2016 .pdf file | 706 KB