Find the Right Land for Your New Church Construction Project

Investing in land for a new church build is a thrilling process. You’re excited about the opportunity to serve your congregation with excellence in a location designed to meet their specific needs. As you dream about all the features you want your new church to offer, make sure that you don’t put the cart before the horse. The land you buy is crucial to how well you can fulfill your vision while also getting the most return out of your investment. 

Here’s what to think about as you look at different pieces of property for your church construction project.

7 Key Features to Consider When You Buy Land for Your Church Build

The property you choose should be ideal for construction of all the amenities that will fit your congregants—such as a new sanctuary that welcomes in visitors, a beautiful nursery and children’s classrooms that families can enjoy, and an area for weddings and other celebrations. As you evaluate different properties, look for the essential factors mentioned below—because they’ll make it either easier or harder to make the land work for your church.

1. Appealing central location

Location is always important in a real estate purchase—church properties included. How well will the land work for your existing congregation as well as its projected future growth? If you are moving an existing church, you might want to choose an area that is conveniently situated near where your members live so they won’t have to travel too far to the new building. If you’re starting a new church, consider whether the land is close to new, growing neighborhoods that you can serve. 

2. Terrain that is easy to build on

Not all plots of land are created equal. When building a large structure like a church complex, you’ll find the process simpler if the acreage you buy is mostly level. If the land is hilly, rocky or full of trees, you’ll need to spend more on development before you can start construction. Also, you’ll need to plan for proper drainage, which means the property’s soil makeup, slope, existing creeks, gullies, and likelihood to flood are all major factors in where a building can be erected. You might be thinking one part of the land would be ideal, but an engineer might tell you otherwise. So, have the terrain evaluated before you buy anything.

3. Size of the property

Finding the ideal acreage for your new church project requires a delicate balance. You want the land to be sizable enough to fit your building and parking lots, with perhaps some room for future expansion. Yet you don’t want the property to be so large that it becomes hard to maintain the landscaping. Do a rough sketch of your new building and parking lot, and compare it to the plot of land you’re considering to make sure you’re not overextending yourself.

4. Zoning, legal, and regulatory concerns

Some tracts of land are zoned for residential use, others for commercial use—and costs can differ per square foot. But an affordable, attractive piece of property won’t be a fit if it can’t be zoned for religious use. In addition, many properties come with pre-existing easements and setbacks that can’t be built on. And some land may be located in more than one jurisdiction (that is, with acreage that crosses into two towns or counties)—which can make taxes, permits and fees more complicated. These factors can make a property less than ideal for your needs.

5. Safe traffic flow and easy accessibility

Consider the experience visitors and congregants will have when they enter and exit your property. Is the land conveniently situated near a major highway so it’s simple for people to travel to and from church? Are there traffic lights nearby that will ease the flow of cars into and out of your parking lot? A busy road isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker if your services will mostly be during off-hours, but you may still want to think about whether features like sidewalks and turn lanes exist or could easily be built or not.

6. Visibility and attractiveness

Drawing in new church attendees and appealing to your existing congregants are two reasons you’re thinking about buying land in the first place, right? Even if the property you’re considering is listed at a good price, it’s not ideal if it will be hard to see the church from the road. In terms of curb appeal, you will of course be maintaining your building and landscaping, but consider other factors too—such as whether the surrounding lots and buildings are run down, the neighborhood is old, and any undeveloped acreage on your property will be hard to beautify.

7. Cost and return on investment

Finally—consider the costs of your building project, both now and over time. Plan to spend 10-20% of your total church build budget on acquiring and developing the land. Beyond that, think about the long-term value of the land. Is it in a location where property values are likely to go up? Timing matters too. If the real estate market is a seller’s market right now, it might be worth waiting until it turns into a buyer’s market, so you can buy land at a more reasonable price.

Fulfill Your Ministry Vision with a Well-Planned Church Construction Project

Finding the right land for your church build is one part of the equation—the other is choosing the best team like ours at Churches by Daniels to help you with construction. As you contemplate your goals, look for a builder that understands your ministry vision—like us! We specialize in helping pastors and church boards accomplish their mission with attractive, ministry-enhancing building projects. Visit our portfolio of church builds for inspiration.