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Managing Construction Costs

A church building in the rear of a large parking lot

Multi-Purpose Room Space Allocation

Construction costs per square foot and the size of the building determine the total building project cost. While knowledgeable design by a cost-conscious architect, with the advice of value engineering through construction management, can control the cost per square foot, the size of the building is the most significant factor in determining the cost of the building.

Instead of your building committee simply giving the architect a wish list of functional needs and leaving the space interpretations to the architect, your committee needs to understand how to facilitate all the church functions in the least amount of space that will adequately accommodate the ministry.

This efficiency in space use requires the church leaders and building committee to understand the ministries for all age groups, a number of square feet per person for each function, and the relationship of the functions so that space allocations will harmonize. (You should not have youth and infants functions next to each other.) By giving the architect a program for the new spaces that have a specific definition of size and allocation for each room, along with the largest project cost, you can greatly increase the probability of constructing an affordable project.

This space needs analysis, with results submitted to the church architect as the program for design and construction, is one facet of the church development consultants ministry on behalf of the church. This functional basis for the design of the new facility (and not the exterior appearance of the building as the primary criteria) provides the greatest assurance that the building will help the development of the church’s ministry. Otherwise, the facility will dictate the possible functions.

Therefore, efficient space use is a key to getting the most number of functions in the least amount of square feet. Here a few suggestions for maximizing church space.

  1. Design several open areas that can adjust to the needs of the ministries in the church. By using portable walls, space can transform from Sunday school classrooms to a fellowship hall or a gymnasium in minutes. 
  2. Place areas that work in harmony with dedicated space for such needs as kitchen and the nursery facilities. Sharing this space allows for quick and easy clean-up of messes. 
  3. Create plenty of office space allowing for growth as the church evolves.
  4. Use chairs in the sanctuary instead of pews so they could be moved to allow the space to be used for other functions and layouts. 

With this in mind, it is important to design a space that begins with the budget and size designated by the committee, but that can grow and handle a busy congregation. 

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