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Professional Help

While the regular day-by day work of inspection, maintenance and repair can be carried out jointly by your fabric committee members and trustworthy trades people, there will always be times when you will need to seek guidance and practical support from properly qualified professional practitioners.

  • Architects inspect and advise on the condition and repair of buildings, design new and alteration works and advise on all aspects of construction and project management while providing general supervision of the work.

(Note that only qualified, registered architects can use that title and that people and businesses describing themselves, for example, as "architectural designers" should not be presumed to have the same level of expertise.)

  • Building Surveyors also inspect and advise on the condition and repair of buildings together with valuation of property for insurance, sale, leasing, etc.

Both of these professions contain members and practices with particular experience and expertise in working with historic building fabric and it wise to seek such assurance when looking for professional help, unless your church building has little architectural or historic significance or the proposed works are minor and common to other types of building.

It is particularly desirable to appoint an architect or building surveyor specially accredited in conservation by his or her professional body. This ensures a level of familiarity and understanding of older structures which should be of real benefit in ensuring that only appropriate work of lasting quality is specified and carried out.

If your denomination requires you to arrange regular, e.g quinquennial, inspections it is normally expected that they will be carried out by an architect or building surveyor with suitable previous experience.

Some members of both professions will have special Accreditation in Conservation and if you are offered grant assistance towards a major repair project it may be a condition that such an accredited professional is employed.

  • Quantity Surveyors carry out valuation of building works, advise on controlling costs of work in progress and see to their administration. They will normally be needed for work of any magnitude and will usually be recommended by the architect or building surveyor leading the project, with whom they will need to work hand-in-glove.
  • Planning Supervisors/CDM Co-ordinators are responsible for ensuring that the CDM health and safety regulation procedures and paperwork are correctly set up and administered by you, as client and by the contractor. One is likely to be legally required on any project other than small maintenance works.
  • Structural Engineers will give specific advice on structural condition and distress problems in buildings and will calculate, design and supervise any necessary new structural work.

If your church is traditionally built, avoid employing an engineer without previous knowledge and experience of advising structural work to historic fabric. If you have already taken on an architect or surveyor with such experience (as recommended above) he or she will be able to recommend and bring in appropriately skilled engineering assistance.

  • Services Engineers will give specific advice, for example, on the condition of your building's heating. lighting, gas, electrical, ventilation and drainage services and will advise on and  design new installations.
  • Specialist surveyors can be appointed to report and make recommendations on specific building conditions: for example, damp control, rot and insect infestation, presence of asbestos, control of bats, fire prevention, security, lightning conductors, tree maintenance, monument conservation, etc.
  • Clerks of Works are employed by the client to monitor the progress and quality of the contractor's work. A Clerk of Works will normally only be needed for a large and complex project since the standard formal building contracts already require the contractor to be responsible for his own performance.
  • Archaeologists will investigate, excavate, analyse and report on historic fabric and remains and make recommendations for carrying out building works in sensitive historic areas. They may be required, by planning law, at the client's expense, to observe the work in progress and supervise the building contractor if archaeological evidence might otherwise be lost.

The professional architect or building surveyor in charge of the project will normally be able to advise on the appointment of these additional expert practitioners if and when they are needed.

Lastly, you must ensure that all practitioners supervising work on your building do so in a professional capacity and not as a favour, so that everyone complies with legal requirements and is properly covered by insurances and indemnities. Few major projects sail along without some problem arising and you must keep everything on a professional basis through proper contracts and agreed procedures. Otherwise you will risk failure followed by recriminations and even financial disaster.


Church of Scotland emblem

Catholic Bishops Conference of Scotland

Scottish Episcopal Church


Bishops' Conference

The Scottish

Historic Scotland

This project is supported and joint-funded by the above organisations

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