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MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR
The cost of building maintenance and repair can be one of the major expenditures which a Church faces.
Major problems seldom arise quickly and are most likely to be the results of minor problems which have been left undiscovered for some time. Even worse, and not so unusual, are those problems which have been identified but have not been dealt with. It is all too easy to become used to a damp patch on a wall or ceiling, without considering further why it is there, what is causing it and, most importantly, what is happening to the adjacent and invisible parts of the structure.
The vast majority of maintenance-related problems are due, in one form or another, to the entry of water. The causes of this are many, but the end results are similar – damaged floors, peeling paintwork, damaged plaster, crumbling masonry, rotting timber and so forth.
Structural problems are often, but not always, self-evident and require professional advice.
Experience has shown that many of the large repair bills that churches have had to meet have been avoided by having regular surveys of the premises. Synod agreed in 1986 to the institution of a quinquennial, or five-yearly, inspection programme. The inspection is carried out by an experienced architect or surveyor, approved by the Synod Property Committee, and includes a thorough inspection and detailed written report on all accessible parts of the buildings, together with recommendations arranged in order of priority. Copies of the report are sent to the local church, the Area Property Advisor and the Synod Property Officer.
There is a flat rate fee for the inspection itself, plus travel costs, which are met initially by the Synod. Churches are encouraged to contribute towards this cost according to their means. All incidental expenses, such as the cost of hiring suitable ladders, etc., are the responsibility of the local church.
The scheme is co-ordinated by the Synod Property Administrator.
Between these inspections, it is recommended that all property owned or occupied by a church should be regularly inspected. This should be carried out by the Property Steward, or other persons specifically appointed for the purpose, and should take place at least once a year. Reports should then be given to the Elders and to Church Meetings.
Ideally, detailed inspections should take place in the late autumn, to ensure that the building is weatherproof and that gutters and drains are clear of leaves etc. before winter arrives, and again in spring, to identify maintenance work which should be carried out in the summer months.
Synod Property Officer