What PCCs need to do
Each church must, by law, appoint a suitable person to undertake Quinquennial Inspections (QIs) of the church building and its curtilage. The person should be approved in advance by the DAC and is normally a qualified architect. It's normally best for parishes to engage this same, single architect to oversee work being undertaken to the church between QI inspections. This helps to develop your ongoing relationship. That's particularly helpful if an emergency arises and you need quick, informed advice from someone already familiar with your building. The preference is that parishes select a DAC-approved architect for their QI reports. Parishes are therefore at liberty to engage other architects for other work, but this should be very rare and you should take note of the relevant DAC advice on engaging architects not on the QI list.
It's always wise to make a conscious decision whether or not to continue with your existing architect, particularly if they've done your last 3 or more inspections. Sometimes a fresh pair of eyes can be helpful to the PCC. For their part, church architects are well used to coming and going from different churches, so there need be no awkwardness if a PCC decides to change their QI architect. However, if a long-established relationship is working well, then do think carefully before possibly ending it.
The relationship between a PCC and its architect is a key one in maintaining and developing the church building. It's therefore in your interest to foster this relationship. The rates paid by the diocese for QI reports are lower than the normal commercial rates charged by architects but architects undertake such inspections out of professional interest, and/or Christian commitment and/or in anticipation of being engaged at their normal commercial rate for any ongoing work to the building. The relationship between the PCC and architect is, first and foremost, a professional and commercial one but developing that relationship is often beneficial to both parties.
If you're applying to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant, they will require your architect to have a specific level of formal conservation accreditation. These accreditations include (but are not limited to) RIBA Conservation Accreditation and AABC. So, if you're intending to apply for such grants, this may affect your choice. You will also need to follow relevant guidance on tendering/procurement and appointing a professional adviser. Such guidance is available from Churchcare.
If you wish to change architect:
- Contact the DAC Office who will provide the names, contact details and (where applicable) website details for you to consider the nature of the firms or individuals. The DAC Office will also provide the names of comparative churches to yours (normally also in your area) where the individuals are already the QI architect.
- You are strongly encouraged to contact those parishes to see how they find working with that architect. Good interpersonal relations with an architect are almost as important as the architect's technical ability but that interaction cannot reasonably be captured in mere lists given that relations vary between different PCCs, and possibly also over time with the same PCC.
- Notify your selection to the DAC Office for formal endorsement by the DAC. The DAC Office will then write to you and to the architect to confirm the fee (which is paid by the Diocese) payable for your particular church. The fee levels vary depending on the size and nature of the church building in question.
- On receipt of the QI appointment letter form the DAC Office, you can arrange with the architect a suitable date for undertaking the inspection visit.