Taking care of your property – what to check and when 

Managing properties is more of an active process than a laid-back one. It is crucial to plan your management to avoid overlooking things. So, what are the key things that churches need to consider as part of an active programme of property management?

A helpful approach is to go through various property issues and ask yourself, “When do we need to arrange for…?”. For instance:  

When is the right time to check your gutters, downpipes, and drains?

Our suggestion would be to do this at least twice a year. One check should happen around February/March to ensure all leaves and twigs are cleared, allowing for free-flowing gutters and drains. The next check could be around September/October since weeds might have had a chance to grow and cause water flow issues. Further checks would not be wasted, but two checks per year would be a good minimum.

What should be checked to avoid water damage?

The biggest problem with buildings is water damage.  This can be from rain, rising damp or burst pipes.   

Pipework – Visually checking the pipes for central heating systems, to ensure that they are not corroding or leaking, and checking basins and WCs that they are also not overflowing or leaking, will cut down the risk of water damage internally.  Making sure that any exposed pipes in walls or roof spaces are properly insulated will also reduce the risk of frost damage and burst pipes over the winter.

Roofs – Checking for slipped, broken and missing tiles or slates, cracks in sheeting, ponding (where water is lying on a flat roof), blocked outlets and missing/damaged flashing. It is also worth checking the roof verges that they are well pointed, to stop water and wind from getting in, and that the ridge tiles on a roof are well pointed/bedded.

Walls – Checking for any signs of damp, for soil or other materials building up and bridging the damp-proof course around the outside of the building, for poor pointing on walls that will allow water to soak into the wall and that the seals around the windows and doors are stopping water from getting in.  

When should the engineer inspect the gas boiler?

The answer is, of course, every 12 months. Surprisingly, in our experience, many property managers assume the boiler is fine because it is running smoothly, only to discover the service is at least six months overdue. Avoid missing a service by planning the engineer’s next visit during the current inspection and certification. This ensures the boiler stays certified, especially if you have tenants using the premises.

Following best practices:

By asking these questions about what is needed and when, you will stay up to date with property management and be able to plan budgets more accurately. A proactive approach to preventive maintenance will also save you unnecessary expenses in the future and keep the property in good condition.

Further resources to help you

More detail and advice on all the above points and recommendations on how to look after your church building can be found in the following Church Growth Trust briefing papers:

How to look after your church building

Electrical and gas checks for church buildings