If you’re a church leader considering big building decisions, you’ve probably got people on your team who are just itching to get started. Perhaps they were inspired by another church design, or they’ve been drawing rough designs on paper napkins when you meet. Problems can arise in the church building process, however, when you pull the trigger too early, before you know exactly what you want and need.
One of the best ways to keep the horse in front of the cart when it comes to a church building project is to conduct a feasibility study. This is a service you might not be aware of, that The McKnight Group offers to churches so they get their building project started on the right foot. Here is why we think it’s critically important to get building professionals involved in your church design project from the very beginning.
A Painful Church Design Case Study
Let’s start with an example of potential problems—a church that purchased the building before they got building professionals involved. They found the “perfect” structure, a retail building with two floors, where they intended to convert the top floor into their worship space. They purchased the property without any planning.
Once we got involved, we had to present the bad news. The top floor was not nearly strong enough to support a worship space. Retail buildings are built to support forty pounds per square foot, but a worship service is an “assembly,” and those floors have to support one hundred pounds per square foot. The structure needed more than cosmetic changes; we had to do a lot of welding of extra steel to reinforce that floor and make it code-compliant for assemblies. This additional work almost killed the project and certainly substantially increased the cost—all because the decision to build was rushed into.
What Professionals Provide
Feasibility studies are not grand, expensive propositions and can help in a variety of situations. If your church has found a great building in the right location, we can come tour it with you and talk about what would be needed to make that building fulfill your church vision. There are a lot of things that need to be considered, including whether the building has a sprinkler system, or enough parking spaces, or enough safety exits for the number of people you’ll have inside on Sunday morning.
Or perhaps your church has identified two sites. We’re happy to do a quick, better-than-napkin church design sketch for two potential properties, and a list of pros and cons for each option. This will help you get a sense of what’s possible, and what would be involved, if you were to convert each existing building into your new church home. We can also do a quick study of what could happen if you were to remodel or expand your current church building.
Considering More than Just the Church Building
Even if you’re building from scratch, there’s a lot to consider in a good church design. We mentioned parking lots above; there are also zoning codes to follow, and you need to think about the future of your church: Will there be room for expansion if your church keeps growing?
A good feasibility study can also make sure, up front, that you don’t bite off more than you can chew financially. We can put together a basic budget for each option, helping you to determine the best course of action at this time.
All in all, a feasibility study can be an excellent investment in the future growth of your church. With our experience building churches, and the fact that our church design and building professionals are active church members themselves, we are certain that we can help you get your building or remodeling project off to a great start.
To learn more about what we provide, sign up today for our free i3 webinar series for 2016.