Church Pension Group | Protecting Unoccupied Buildings

The Good Steward

Risk Management: 4 Steps to Protecting Unoccupied Buildings

February 2021

With the COVID-19 pandemic halting many in-person gatherings, some church buildings may be sitting empty or be only partially used. Paul Stephens, Vice President of Client Management, Marketing, and Risk Management for Church Insurance, says unoccupied buildings should be inspected weekly.

“The risks of turning a blind eye to unused or underused buildings can be significant,” he cautions, “so make sure to go through this checklist regularly.”

  1. Examine the Exterior

Make it difficult for people to break in and burglarize, vandalize, or otherwise use your buildings without your consent by using proper locks and security devices. Check that all windows are intact and that all points of entry are secure. Look for signs of weather intrusion and visually inspect the roof for signs of damage.

  1. Inspect the Interior

Inspect every part of the building, including rarely used areas such as the undercroft. Don’t hesitate to take a buddy with you as you make your rounds – you don’t want to discover an intruder on your own.

  1. Monitor Water Sources

A burst pipe can cause major damage even if it’s discovered quickly, and even more so if it’s not. Check the kitchen and bathrooms. Make sure toilets aren’t running. Look for signs of moisture anywhere with running water or pipes, including on interior ceilings.

  1. Review Fire Hotspots

Look over places that may be more prone to fire, such as stoves and ovens, and make sure pilot lights are lit. Inspect the heating and ventilation room and the boiler or furnace. Confirm smoke alarms are working. Remove flammables from the building, and tidy up cluttered areas that could increase the risk of fire.

Paul says, “By taking a few minutes to conduct a weekly walk-through of buildings not regularly in use, you can prevent many time-consuming problems down the line.”