No. You must not start building work on your project until your district has granted final consent. If building work is started before the district has approved a project then this could not only lead to wasted time, effort and money but could even result in legal liability against you and the other managing trustees of your church.
It is also important to remember that if you start building work without consent then your project will be ineligible for Connexional grants and the use of any funds held in trust by TMCP.
Although you must wait for district consent before starting building work, there is still plenty of background work which can be done in the meantime, such as fundraising and developing your project ideas with your congregation, circuit, district and Connexional Officers.
Unfortunately you cannot. While this person's experience may prove very helpful in the preliminary stages, there are a number of reasons why they should not get involved professionally with your project.
Architects can only provide professional advice if they hold professional indemnity insurance, which covers the cost of putting things right should their advice be flawed and cause damage. Retired architects will not carry indemnity insurance and there are still potential conflicts of interest if they provide advice on a professional basis (see the following question).
No. Managing trustees may ask for reimbursement of reasonable expenses but must never carry out work for their church on a paid basis because there is a clear conflict of interest, while this is also contrary to charity law.
If you appointed either of these people then it could be very embarrassing for all concerned if problems occurred due to bad advice and you (the other managing trustees) were forced to take legal action. It is very important to remember that verbal and even unpaid advice carries the same liability as it would if it were paid for. We therefore recommend that you do not consult either person and instead seek independent professional advice from an external architect.
Yes, in principle, but in some listed buildings this may not be possible. All buildings open to the public should now be compliant with the Equality Act 2010. Therefore you must have taken all reasonable steps to make the building accessible to all or you and the other managing trustees may be legally liable.
"Reasonable steps" will vary from church to church but are judged upon existing facilities and the amount of money it would take to make them inclusive to all users.
If a ramp could be installed for a few hundred pounds and yet your church has not provided one then it may be viewed as an act of discrimination.
Examples of other types of alteration which can bring churches in line with the Equality Act legislation include the provision of an accessible toilet and the installation of induction loops (for the hearing impaired).