Getting Started Guide

Before starting a building project, you will need to:

  • Know what your vision is for the building project (Full refurbishment, Internal reordering, Extension, Ancillary building?).

  • Start with the end in mind - even if you don't know how you're going to get there.

  • Have a master plan -  bigger projects can be approached in phases as money becomes available.


Key spaces to consider

  • Coffee bars - 7 days per week or Sunday only?

  • Kitchen - How many meals will you produce, warming only or full food prep?

  • Toilets - Consider this in light of anticipated church growth for 5 years time.

  • Prayer rooms - 24/7 prayer room?

  • Meeting rooms / Break-out spaces

  • Storage - You will always need more of this than you think.

  • Office space - How many FT, PT, volunteer staff will you have in 5 years?

  • Outreach

  • Creche

  • Youth

  • Children

Other things to think about

  • The vexed question of pews and replacement chairs.

  • Carpet / floor finishes

  • AV / sound system

  • Heating / ventilation

  • Lighting, including stage lighting

  • Access control

First steps

  • Form your project team.

  • Appoint your architect (when relevant this should go to tender).

  • Produce your design drawings – these are the ones to be used for planning.

  • Appoint a quantity surveyor to give you an accurate estimate of costs (larger projects only).


Planning phase

  • Decide between Local Planning Authority Vs DAC / Faculty (You may have no choice and you may need both!).

  • You will need a Faculty for almost everything.

    1. Those things not needing a Faculty can be found here List A and B.

  • Work closely with your Archdeacon to understand what is possible.

  • Think of the DAC as your friend and use the vast experience they have.

    1. Ecclesiastical Exemption.

The Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC)

  • Advises the Chancellor of the Diocese.

  • Includes specialist advisors on technical, artistic and historical matters.

  • Clergy members advise on how proposals will affect the mission and ministry of the parish.

  • Archdeacons can represent the view of parishes at DAC meetings.

4 ways to make change

Things you can do without permission
List A

  • Simple routine repairs (not affecting the fabric of the building).

  • Replacement ‘like for like’.

  • Simple tree works.

  • Pest control etc.

Things you can do with Archdeacon’s written permission
List B

  • Routine maintenance and repair effecting the fabric of the building e.g. repairs to flat roof.

  • Internal decoration.

  • Boiler replacement utilising existing pipework.

  • The introduction or replacement of portable AV equipment used in connection with church services.

Things you can do under an Archdeacon’s licence for temporary minor re-ordering
Archdeacon’s License - Temporary Remodelling Order (TRO)

  • Any works that are ‘reversible’ without permanent impact on the building fabric.

  • Signed off by the Archdeacon (must have PCC support).

  • Max period of 15 months.

  • Must then be approved by Faculty or removed.

  • The extent to which your archdeacon will sign these off can vary greatly.

Everything else requires full permission

  • The mechanism for granting permission for works and alterations to church buildings.

  • Normally in lieu of Listed Building Consent.

  • Granted by a judge – the Chancellor of the Diocese.

  • Usually requires the support of the DAC.


Things that need a Faculty

Anything altering the appearance of the church, internally or externally, including:

  • Redecoration

  • Relighting

  • Installation of audio-visual equipment

  • Re-ordering of interior

  • Installation of ramps, WCs, permanent signage

  • Routine repairs costing over £10,000

  • Structural works

  • Removal of fixtures (often historical)

  • Extension

  • Partial demolition

  • Introduction of major new fixtures

Additional Consultations

  • External works may also require separate planning permission from Local Authority.

  • Works may require consultation with other outside bodies e.g.

    1. Historic England

    2. Victorian Society

    3. 20th Century Society

    4. SPAB

    5. Church Buildings Council

Your Architect will advise and lead on this.


Working With Consultees

  • There are basically only two consent givers.

    1. The PCC

    2. The Chancellor

  • All others, including DAC, are advisory.

  • If the Chancellor agrees with consultees it is because you have not justified your proposal.


Possible sources of funding

  • Church Commissioners - As part of overall diocese bid – mission focus.

  • Diocese funds

  • Mission fund

  • Heritage Lottery Fund

  • Fundraising / giving

  • Mortgage


  • Most churches are not VAT registered.

  • Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme allows reclaim of most but not all VAT – only applies to Listed buildings that are licensed for worship.

  • Some works e.g. annexes, can be zero rated for VAT.

  • Watch your cashflow – VAT is paid in advance and reclaiming can take time.

Managing your project

  • Appoint your Architect.

  • Competitive Tender?

  • Agree a scheme.

  • Appoint your Main Contractor.

  • Contracts – make sure you have the right contracts in place and that everybody has signed before work begins.

  • CDM 2015 – Health and safety regulations – everybody has legal obligations including you!

  • Who is the Client, Principal Designer, Principal Contractor?

  • Project Manager?


  • It’s only a building!

  • Don’t let the existing configuration dictate.

  • Let your vision dictate how the space is used.

  • Consider reorienting the building.

  • Have a bold vision.

  • What will your congregation be in 5 -10years?

  • Expect growth and plan accordingly.

If you require further assistance, please contact Andrew Parsons.