Why is it hard to make Church Conversions green?

Churches are full of character and atmosphere, but are they appropriate to live in? Either way, church conversions are very difficult to accomplish.

church conversion

Church conversions are very hard to make energy efficient. Fancy the idea of living in a church? Then be prepared for a lot of work. 

By 2020, as much as 10% of the near-50,000 churches in England could be declared redundant. This could mean a potential 5000 opportunities for new homes! Or restaurants, cafes or nightclubs, as is often the case for many current church conversions.

While it’s only really appropriate to convert a smaller church into a home, they’ll probably still present you with a few difficulties. These are the main five aspects of a church conversion which you’ll have to pay close attention to if you want to keep an eye on how green you are. Given how old many churches are, you’re guaranteed to have to deal with some of these issues throughout the church conversion process.

1. Many churches have windows that don’t open

This might sound like a great idea in terms of energy efficiency, but when many church windows are incredibly thin and ornate they’re nowhere near as great an insulator as they are a decoration. One of the main points of buying a church conversion project is because of the intricate architecture and detail, so to make your new home green you’d have to sacrifice your characteristic stained-glass windows for something a little more appropriate.

2. If your church has a graveyard, you’ll need to deal with visitors

Most people would prefer to convert a church which doesn’t have an attached graveyard, but if you have fallen in love with one that does you’ll have to take on board the fact that people may want to visit. If you’re not prepared to deal with that then you should make sure you choose a church which doesn’t have one or contact local authorities to enquire how to go about moving remains.

3. Older churches are often rotting or have dodgy roofs

You’ll have to get someone in to do an all-over survey of what damage needs rectifying. It’s almost certain that an older church will have a roof in dire need of repair or some rotting woodwork. It’s important that these aren’t ignored as they can contribute to poor energy efficiency and will make living in an old church very expensive in the long run.

4. The high ceilings can make energy bills expensive

With most churches having very high ceilings, it’s very hard to stop them from becoming quite cold in the winter. Even if you installed an underfloor heating system, which are more capable of expelling heat in the right places than a traditional radiator, you will still find your energy bills becoming very expensive. You’ll need to consider making some alterations to the structure of the building or fitting extensive amounts of thick insulation. Which leads on to the final hurdle you’ll need to consider before anything else…

5. You’ll have to run your plans for your church conversion by local planners and religious committees

If you’re planning to make extensive structural alterations or to convert your church into something more controversial than a home, you may have some difficulty getting permission to do so. As well as local planners you’ll have to run your church conversion plans by the local Diocesan Redundant Church Uses Committee, who will propose your idea to the Church Commissioners. They’ll have the final decision, so don’t be too audacious in what you plan to do in your church conversion if you want to get approval.

Image: Truus, Bob & Jan too!

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