St Matthew’s Church in Oxhey is a typical, Victorian, red brick building which was consecrated in 1880.
As with all churches, maintenance can be a problem and, when our insurers, Ecclesiastical, required us to take out a maintenance contract for the cleaning of our gutters, the Churchwardens at the time were at a bit of a loss about who to approach. They asked various local gutter maintenance companies and, whilst one agreed to carry out a one-off clearance, none of them were prepared to take it any further.
Last October I heard about a one-day seminar being run by the DAC at the Diocese of St Albans about advice on maintenance of church fabric and fittings. One of the speakers at this seminar was Cicely Barnett, the Church Support Officer from the National Churches Trust, who explained in detail about the new MaintenanceBooker site for booking contractors online. She explained that the service has been set up in conjunction with 2buy2, who run Parish Buying, and is aided by donations from Ecclesiastical Insurance. It has been trialled in several regions around the country and launched in the Diocese of St Albans in September 2018. A church can register it’s details free of charge at any time and then request quotes when they have a job that needs doing. All the companies have been rigorously checked and vetted for suitability. There are also micro-grants available for work that is carried out using this scheme.
Using this information, I registered St Matthew’s on MaintenanceBooker and started the process of requesting quotations for gutter clearance.
In order to get quotes I needed to upload a plan of the church showing the dimensions of the building and provide some basic information regarding the job such as the approximate meterage of gutters, the approximate height of the building, the number of downpipes, whether access was available to the roof via the tower and whether access was restricted for vehicles coming onto the site (eg cherry picker). This information was all reasonably easy to obtain and upload to the site.
Within about an hour of upload, I received a phone call from one company who are very local to us and who wanted to come and view the site.
This was arranged and their representative was very helpful and knowledgeable but we heard nothing from any other companies. We received three quotations about 2 weeks later and were somewhat surprised by the wide difference in prices between the three; they varied from under £1,000 to over £2,500, the one who had visited being the cheapest. After discussion with the PCC it was agreed that we ask the cheapest company to do the work, and this has now been done very satisfactorily.
I also filled in the forms to apply for a Micro-Grant from the Churches Trust. Again, this was a simple process and we have successfully been awarded £250 towards the bill.