7 Things to Consider When Buying Land to Build a Church

Whether you’re an existing church looking to move to a new location, or a brand new church plant looking for its first home, there’s a lot to think about when it comes to building a church. And while the construction process can be exciting, don’t forget to do your due diligence when it comes to researching and selecting the correct property.

The 7 Things You Must Consider

Ask anybody in the industry what the single most important aspect of real estate is and you’ll get three answers: location, location, location. Selecting the right location – whether for a home, business, or church – supersedes every other consideration. With that being said, it would be foolish to ignore the fact that other aspects are in play. After considering location, turn your attention towards the following issues and elements.

1. Cost

Let’s be honest, cost is a determining factor. Depending on the amount of capital you’ve raised (or plan on raising) and property values in the area, you’ll automatically pare your options down to the ones that are financially feasible.

While it all depends on the size of the construction, the materials used, the cost of labor, and a long list of other independent factors, it’s reasonably safe to assume that the cost of the property – including purchase and site preparation – will make up 10 to 20 percent of the total project cost.

Cost is something that you obviously must be cognizant of, but don’t let it totally dictate your selection. If you’re judging sites on cost alone, then you’re failing to think about the dozens of other components that come into play.

2. Size and Setbacks

The size and footprint of the real estate is very important. But once again, you have to look beyond the surface level factors – such as acreage. Here are a few elements to think about:

  • Do you foresee expansion and growth in the future? If so, is there enough land on the property to expand without moving?
  • Can the church afford the upkeep of a large property? Think about landscaping, irrigation, and ongoing maintenance.
  • Are there parts of the property that are unattractive or in disrepair? These aspects could detract from the church building.
  • Are there neighborhoods or shopping centers adjacent to the property? Will this cause issues in the future?
  • Are you familiar with real estate setbacks? These are county-mandated guidelines that determine how closely you can build to roads and adjacent lots. In some cases, these setbacks could take up a large portion of the parcel.

These are just a few examples of things you should think about. The point is that you need to look beyond acreage when determining whether a property’s size is appropriate for your church.

3. Jurisdiction

Every property falls under a specific jurisdiction. And depending on the rules of the specific jurisdiction, things like driveways, parking lots, landscaping, and building heights will be heavily regulated. It’s best to find out this information in advance, rather than purchasing property and then arguing over every little detail and discrepancy.

4. Zoning

One of the first things to check is whether the property is even zoned for a church. The city, county, or state determines which types of buildings can be built on which lots. Depending on zoning, street requirements, building codes, utilities, and other issues, you may or may not be able to build a church.

Generally, commercial property is far more expensive than residential property. As such, many churches will seek a variance to build on residential land. If the circumstances are right, you may be able to petition for the right to build in an area that’s otherwise not zoned for church construction. Don’t count on this, though. You’ll need some architectural assistance and lots of preparation to approach the zoning board.

A Pastor’s Guide to Church Construction Planning

Check out our comprehensive guide to learn everything you need to know about the pre-construction management for your church building project.

See the Guide

5. Utilities

Don’t take access to utilities for granted. This is especially true if you’re considering rural properties. Before getting too serious about a property, contact your water, sanitary, storm sewer, gas, and electric offices to ensure each of these services is available, and get a rough estimate of how much it will cost to connect them to your building. It’s possible that you’ll have to install a septic system or well, so obtain accurate estimates on these expenses if applicable.

6. Visibility and Accessibility

Practically speaking, you need to think about visibility and accessibility. As a church, your goal is to serve the needs of your congregation and invite as many people as possible to attend services and events.

If the property isn’t located in a central area, will members leave for other churches? Is the property visible enough for people to find it? Find out where your congregation lives. Search for main highways and roads. Consider the neighborhood. The last thing you want is to invest in a new church building and then see a decline in membership.

7. Property-Specific Issues

Finally, think about property-specific issues. We’re talking about permit fees and restrictions, egress and ingress issues, easements, topography, flood plains, green space requirements, environmental hazards, and other related concerns. You should obtain a comprehensive site analysis before purchasing any individual parcel of land. A failure to consider issues like these can result in long legal battles and problems that delay site development and construction.

Contact Churches by Daniels Today

Church construction isn’t a simple process. This is especially true when you have to find a new site, erect a building, and manage the process from start to finish. That’s where we come into play.

At Churches by Daniels, we’ve helped churches achieve their ministry building goals with professional construction services since 1980. Whether you need renovations, remodeling, expansion, or new construction, we can help by providing church construction management, church design, multipurpose facilities, and budgeting and finance services.

For more information regarding our processes and how they fit with your approach, please don’t hesitate to contact us today. We would love the opportunity to sit down and discuss the scope of your project in more detail.

A Pastor’s Guide to Church Construction

Discover mindful ways to navigate the construction of a new church in our comprehensive guide.