A leading independent property consultancy with expertise covering a broad spectrum of property related services

Galbraith Plays Its Part In Safeguarding Scotland's Churches

Maintaining church buildings and their grounds is a challenging task due to the numerous different styles and sizes of church buildings and their adjoining churchyards. 

Given the age and importance of historic churches, they require a programme of repairs to ensure the protection of the building and grounds to avoid deterioration.

Galbraith has conducted an increasing number of specialist church surveys working closely with the Scottish Episcopal Church. All churches and associated buildings such as church halls, vestry buildings and rectories are included as part of the quinquennial report and this is where Galbraith’s experienced team have been able to provide assistance.

Quinquennial inspections involve a thorough non-intrusive survey of all aspects of a building's fabric and are intended to identify defects that have developed since the last inspection.

The repair and upkeep costs are the responsibility of the church and its congregation, so a set of maintenance priorities are compiled to allow for manageable budget planning and to ensure the preservation of the fabric over the next quinquennial cycle.

 The report also considers statutory compliance and where improvements may wish to be undertaken. Quinquennial inspections are generally frequent enough to catch problems before significant damage occurs as well as plan for and implement repairs and upgrades.

In addition to the fabric of the church building, quinquennial inspections may also include works of art, artefacts and other articles of particular importance or value. Churchyards may also require a specialist survey inspection if there are large trees in the grounds.

James Taylor, associate building surveyor at Galbraith, said:

The architecture and often traditional construction techniques adopted can present an onerous task when it comes to carrying out a building survey. It requires specialist skills and knowledge of the building and its construction. 

Ensuring the timely maintenance and repair of traditional slate and lead roofs, waterproofing details and masonry are essential to avoid costly and disruptive timber rot outbreaks, water ingress or other expensive repair or replacement costs. Safeguarding the condition of the external fabric will prevent defects developing on the internal fabric of the building and enables the preservation of the church’s contents.

 “The quinquennial report provides an understanding of the general condition of the church as a whole and identifies any repairs necessary. It will also present a case for how best to budget for and carry out such repairs and suggest a suitable timeframe in which they should be carried out. Establishing priorities for repair ensures the preservation of the building’s fabric before significant problems occur.

Galbraith has built up a reputation as specialists in this field, having assisted the Scottish Episcopal Church in surveying more than a dozen churches across Angus, Fife, Stirlingshire and Perthshire over the last five years. 

During a survey on St John’s Scottish Episcopal Church in Forfar, Angus the report identified a failing lead roof covering and water ingress into an unused store above the main church entrance porch. With Galbraith’s advice the church was able to plan their repairs in a timely manner and avoid the risk of a timber rot outbreak and consequential damage to the public areas of the church.

The firm’s knowledge of church buildings can also assist those looking to purchase a converted church building or considering converting a church building into a residential property. James Taylor recently carried out a building survey on St Anne’s Church in Dowally, Perthshire on behalf of the successful purchaser when it was sold by the Church of Scotland in the summer.

Galbraith’s building surveying department understands a building’s construction in the context of the building regulations and other statutory consents and are able to provide bespoke building survey reports to assist prospective purchasers.