28 April 2022
A Melbourne church has been hit by a near $1 million repair bill after it discovered massive water damage to the floor of its main building.
St Hilary’s Kew is now facing fundraising about $200,000 annually for the next four years to pay for the estimated $940,000 cost of repairs.
The damage has meant removing the entire church floor, to allow for restumping and replacement of the subfloor, as well as rewiring the entire building.
In the meantime, St Hilary’s congregations met in a marquee in the carpark to meet COVIDSafe density limits, then in the church hall.
Lead minister the Reverend Adam Cetrangolo said the church discovered the extensive floor damage while undertaking modest repairs to the ceiling in May 2021.
He said while the church was repairing the ceiling, it decided to paint and recarpet parts of the building.
They discovered problems with the floor, caused by large amounts of water getting in under the building from multiple sources. Here it was affecting the subfloor and cabling.
For Mr Cetrangolo, it was an unfortunate way to begin his tenure at St Hilary’s. He joined the church in July, just before the damage was discovered. As the church kept looking, it just kept finding more problems.
“We started looking a bit more closely and then it was ‘How long is a piece of string?’” Mr Cetrangolo said.
“This was the job that just kept on getting bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger.”
Mr Cetrangolo said he was confident all the drainage issues had now been identified, and civil engineers were now mapping out a structural plan for the building. He said the damage had meant making a lot of quick decisions with the church wardens about what works the church would do, and how far it would go.
He said the one silver living was the removal of the floor had made it a good time to install a new, high-quality underfloor heating and cooling system.
Mr Cetrangolo said he hoped to be ready to reuse the building by term four at the latest.
He said the congregation had been very understanding about both the inconvenience and the fundraising required.
Mr Cetrangolo said St Hilary’s had so far raised $400,000 and borrowed another $500,000 to cover repair costs. It was now aiming to raise $200,000 a year for the next four years.