Consultancy helps identify defects in historic church buildings

St John’s Scottish Episcopal Church in Forfar, where a report identified a failing lead roof covering and water ingress into an unused store above the main entrance porch.

PROPERTY consultancy Galbraith has divulged details of its work in maintaining church buildings and their grounds.

The business said it 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. These inspections involve a non-intrusive survey of all aspects of a building’s fabric and are intended to identify defects.

The report also considers statutory compliance and where improvements could be undertaken. Inspections may also include works of art, artefacts and other articles of importance. Churchyards may require a specialist survey inspection if they feature large trees.

James Taylor, associate building surveyor at Galbraith explained, “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.”