Hope to Build? Tips to Plan Now for a Future Church Construction

Steps of preparation long before beginning the design-build process of a new church construction project pay off richly in the long run. If this is your first building project, understand that many pastors and building committees have gone before you and learned valuable nuggets of wisdom—sometimes the hard way—that can save you time and money if heeded.

Do you see a building project in your future? Awesome! Seek out all the knowledge and wisdom you can as early as possible and come out ahead in realizing your vision. Wisdom is the principle thing; therefore get wisdom, and with all your getting, get understanding. So, if you don’t know construction terms, ask questions or read up on them. If you interview building contractors and they present an overview, yet you still have gaping holes in understanding, ask questions.

Put everything in writing, and realize your vision may be so big that it needs to be tackled in phases. If necessary, let the phases line up single file and tackle them one at a time to make it more palatable for you, your congregation, and your budget.

Before beginning church construction planning, take inventory.

Take an objective look at the health of your organization, and your physical health personally. Factually speaking, some pastors throw themselves so heavily into building projects, they find themselves overly taxed physically, or ready to leave the ministry once the project is complete.

It’s not worth risking your physical health—or your calling—to build before you are ready. Shore up the basics by learning to delegate, developing stress reduction skills, and keeping your relationship with the Lord and your family top priority prior to initiating and throughout a building project.

Some Preliminary Admonitions

Prepare to finish what you start.

Many pastors have a set of building plans yet never begin the building process.

Be aware of legalities.

Construction is a highly litigated industry, so take every precaution to get wise counsel, and get the right permits before building.

Take care of yourself and your family.

If you build the most magnificent building but lose your health or your family in the process, is that worth it?

Preparation and Planning Ahead for Church Construction

1. Define your vision

Without vision, people perish. And without a clearly defined vision for your church construction project, and clear communication of your vision to the congregation, momentum wanes. Once you have a clearly expressed vision, write it down so you can run with it. Spell it out simply to your congregation. Define:

  • The building’s purpose — Why you are building.
  • The building’s design — What you are building.
  • The building’s result — Who you are building for.

2. Prepare financially

Although some churches build with cash and tackle their vision in phases (with cash), many save up for an initial deposit and finance the remainder of the building project. Decide ahead of time what is right for your church budget, and stick with it. Don’t wait until the last minute to save up for an initial deposit, or to try to get financing. Begin financial preparations long before initiating a church construction project.

  • Financial Advisor – Consider hiring a financial advisor who understands the design-build process and the construction industry.
  • Financial Institution – Locate the financial institution who will back your vision with a good loan product.
  • Accurate Quotes – Ask your design builder for an accurate quote for your building, including everything from start to finish. Know how much building you can afford to build before starting the building process.

3. Wisely Select Your Building Committee

The success of your church construction project hinges on the decisions of you and your building committee. Choose wisely. Avoid placing people who could have personal agendas on the committee, and choose people of character with varying backgrounds and experience bases from which to draw.

  • Collaborate — Choose people who know how to be team players.
  • Character — Choose people who will go the distance on the building committee until the project is finished.
  • Creativity — Choose people who have a good knowledge base of your church, its vision, and priorities. And look for people who are good at finding creative solutions to unexpected problems that may arise.
  • Construction Knowledge — The building committee needs some knowledge about the construction process because they work with the design-build contractor to make the church’s vision a reality
  • Communicators — Choose individuals who are excellent communicators, and consider appointing an owner’s representative from your staff to represent you, the pastor, on the committee.

4. Choose your construction delivery method

Understand that the traditional method of building is no longer the only delivery method. Each method has its benefits, so evaluate which will best serve your needs prior to hiring a contractor.

There are dozens of situations just ahead once a building project is launched, and the construction delivery method you choose will directly impact how problems are resolved and how much or little they impact your timeline and budget. Here are the primary methods of construction delivery to consider:

Design-Bid-Build

In the Design-Bid-Build delivery, the owner contracts separately with the design firm that produces the construction documents, and the builder that physically builds the new church facility. This is the traditional method of construction delivery, and is based on the successive process of design, construction documents, bidding, then construction.

Design-Build

The church design-build method brings design and construction professionals together as a team, and is advantageous for pastors and church boards to strongly consider for their new construction or major renovation projects. The design-build process not only decreases costs and timelines, but decreases miscommunication and unwanted conflict during the process of building a facility.

Key decisions intentionally made long before your church construction project begins make a difference not only for the life of the facility’s construction, but also throughout the life of the building itself.

When it’s time to build a new church facility, or remodel your current facility, contact the experts at Churches by Daniels. In the meantime, take a look at some of the churches we’ve built, read some success stories from those we’ve helped, and check out our learning center to learn more about the church construction process.