Things to consider when investing in church or chapel conversions

Posted on 20 November, 2018 by Bailey Clarke

Many property investors are seeking unusual buildings to convert into either homes or commercial spaces. It’s not surprising that redundant churches across the UK have become favourable amongst many potential buyers. With originally features, stunning architecture and large spaces, they certainly provide the wow factor.

A guide to converting a church

Reasons why churches become available to buy

The main reason for churches and chapels to be put up for sale is attendance. For example, if the church experiences a significant drop in members then its services could be combined with a neighbouring parish.

When this happens the church elders may decide to sell the redundant church building. The whole process of declaring a church or chapel redundant can take time as each denomination has different factors to consider.

Important factors when buying a church

The majority of UK churches are grade listed so research is imperative when deciding to take the plunge and invest.

If a listed church is purchased it’s important to be aware of the implications the historic building could have on the project’s timescale and the planned budget.

  • Most churches will have windows that cannot be opened which would need some consideration.
  • High ceilings are a common sight in period buildings but they do require more heating occurring higher running costs.
  • Older churches suffer from rot and with added roof problems they can become costly very quickly.
  • Graveyards if a redundant church has one then there will be visitors rights to the graves which would have to be respected.

A new owner of a church can apply to have the remains moved from a closed graveyard but this will take time and is not always approved easily.

The future of church buildings

Around 18,000 churches and chapels have been sold off in England in the past years. Even though many churches were made redundant there are still over 45,000 operating throughout England.

Even though it is sad to see a church become redundant many of them have been given a new lease of life by becoming family homes while others have become adapted quirky eateries or commercial offices.

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