Your architect will hire the builders and manage the building works.
But you need to understand what is happening because, in the end, it’s your responsibility.
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Choosing your builder
Getting the right builder is about knowing what you need.
You and your architect should put together a list of builders that you might want to work with. Then, invite them to tender for the work.
The builder will give you a price based on the degree of risk they are taking on.
If your drawings, specification and bill of quantities are clear and detailed, you are more likely to get good tender prices.
Your architect will go over each tender and:
- Make sure the builder has the right skills for your project (e.g. working with listed buildings)
- Look at how many employed staff compared to subcontractors they have
- Ask about the builder’s reputation and get recommendations
- Look at previous projects (i.e. size, type, complexity)
- Make sure that those who will be doing the work come to the interview
- Run financial checks
- Visit previous projects
- Find out if they are good organisers
There are different types of building contracts:
- Traditional: the client decides the details and describes them to the builders, who each give a price (i.e. RIBA stage 4 technical design)
- Design and build: the builder is hired after RIBA stage 3 (developed design) and is responsible for working up the details of the project.
- Tender stage two: the builder is chosen early on based on basic information and a series of agreed rates. The price for the works is gradually negotiated.
Your architect will help you choose the best type for you.
What else will your architect do?
Your architect is responsible for:
- Finding the builder
- Managing the tender process
- Managing the building works and people involved
- Making sure the works are good quality and done like in the specification
- Making sure building regulations are complied with
- Monitoring risks and delays
- Making sure you know the reason why the design had to change a little (yes, this is normal)
- Making sure that this change doesn’t cost you too much
- And making sure you get a set of “as-built” drawings once the works are done
What should you be doing?
Select one person from your group to make decisions during the building works and keep in touch with the architect.
And think about:
Will you use part of the church during the building works or close the whole building?
What about services, weddings and funerals? Will you need to hold them somewhere else?
Make plans. Talk to your clergy and churchwardens. They will have to get permission from the bishop to stop worshipping in the building.
Most building works are dusty and messy. Protect the interior of your church (e.g. fixtures & fittings).
Be a good neighbour. Talk to residents and businesses nearby if they are going to be affected.
Call your insurer to make sure you have the right cover in place for the building works. And let them know if you are using volunteers.
Some dioceses now require you to have £10m public liability cover in place. Check with them first so you can include this in the tender documents.