5 Steps to Start a Building Project

Category | Construction

Thinking of updating your church facility or building a new space? Perhaps God has laid a ministry vision on your heart, but you’re not sure of the next step. Starting well is arguably the most important challenge of any building project, one on which many churches spend too little time, with resulting financial setbacks. The following best practices will help you avoid this and plan a successful project that moves your ministry vision forward.

1. Compare your options.

Renovating your current space is often the first, most practical step for growing ministries. This may call for the input of a good contractor to help identify the best use of space for maximum ministry benefit. Often, a little creative repurposing will solve immediate space needs.

For the long-term future, however, you may need to invest in new space. Then it becomes important to factor in both current usage and future marketability of any type of new facility you may consider. A traditional church facility is often a single-purpose building for which the market is very limited, whereas a commercial or multi-purpose building may have a broader appeal. The price of existing square footage has dropped over the last few years. Conversely, the cost of new construction has risen. It may be cheaper to purchase an existing building and remodel it than to build new.

Action step: Consult a local contractor or design-build firm to get an idea of local construction/renovation costs per square foot. You should be able to request an initial project identification and cost estimation from most firms without up-front costs.

2. Consider your resources.

The most common pitfall of planning building projects is surpassing the budget. This can hurt a church’s ability to do ministry. Avoid it by considering all areas of funding and fitting your project into them, not the other way around.

Funding can come from three sources: cash on-hand, cash you can raise, and cash you can borrow. Determine to keep your project confined to these sources. In this way, you can maintain adequate funds for ministry as your project gets underway.

Action step: Consult with a trusted lending institution to determine your financial parameters in terms of debt capacity and what you can realistically raise through a capital campaign.

3. Consider your costs.

Project expenses typically fall into several categories: hard costs, soft costs, and FFE costs. Hard costs are construction labor and materials. Soft costs are services, fees, and permits. FFE costs are furniture, fixtures, and equipment.

Action step: To get the most accurate cost estimate for your project, figure out soft and FFE costs first. Then design your project around the remaining budgeted hard costs—being careful not to exceed your funding sources. On top of these costs, add a contingency of about 10%, to cover unforeseen expenses.

4. Set your project scope.

This is the process of identifying limitations. It includes the budgetary considerations already mentioned, as well as the physical parameters that come with purchasing land, building a new building, or renovating an existing one.

Action step: Consult a civil engineer to identify a site’s development parameters.

5. Phase your master plan.

Your vision may be big, but you don’t have to do it all at once. By dividing the long-term vision into several smaller projects, you can eventually complete everything without hindering your ministry financially.

Action step: Talk to a church construction consultant for assistance with master planning. He or she will be able to help you stay on budget while accomplishing your goals.

By following these five steps, your project will be off to a smooth start and you can look forward to an exciting and financially stable future for your ministry.

Learn how Foundation Capital Resources can help you with building renovations, new construction, multi-site campus expansion, and refinancing. Call 888.829.6877 or email info@fcrinc.com.

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