"How much will it cost to build the church?" is by far the most asked question we receive.
This is a very important question, and one worthy of an accurate response. Everyone wants to know how much it costs per square foot to build a church. The REAL answer is this: All I or anyone else, including your local builder, can do is guess (we professionals call this "estimating") - until there is a real set of church plans. Anything else is just a guess, and not one you can hold someone to, at that.
Can an experienced church builder look at a concept drawing of a church plan and get pretty close on cost?
Yes they can. I have been blessed to be be uncannily close on several projects - simple because, like a builder, this is something at which I have experience. However, when you talk to someone who does not specialize in church construction, or worse, someone who gives you a lowball estimate just to try to get a business relationship going, the church can end up in trouble. There is no way most churches know if their builder is really honest and capable until it is too late. To make it worse, most architects don't really know what a church will really cost to build - ask just about any builder and they will probably tell you the same thing.
Most churches push their budget to the max in order to build all they can afford. A church can easily into the design process and spend several ten's of thousands of dollars on plans based on a bad guess or deceptive estimate. When the church gets the real construction bids and find out they can't afford the building, they then have to pay even more to have the plans redrawn. This is not only a waste of money, but of time and momentum.
There are two ways to solve this problem:
The first is to NOT do the tradional Design-Bid-Build approach where you don't find out how much the building will cost until after it is designed. A better approach is to put together a team consisting of the architect, engineer, and builder to work the process together, getting pricing estimates all during the design process so that by the time the building is designed, it is also priced. This is commonly referred to as the team build approach. Team build differs from design/build by virtue of the fact that both the architect and the builder work for the church, an important distinction.
The second way is through the use of a new church plan offering that allows churches to buy detailed plan sets from previous building programs for only $895. Starting with any one of the 200 or so church plans on ChurchPlanSource.com, the church can find a plan that is very close to what they want to build in size and general seating capacity. The church can then buy detailed blueprints in PDF format and submit them to a builder for pricing.
Once the church determines it can afford the building, the changes to the plan are made to make it the church's own. The key to making this work is to find a building that is as close as possible to what the church needs. Non-structural changes to room layouts and reconfiguring space will not greatly affect the price of the building, so the church can have construction drawings completed with the confidence they know the final price. Even if the building needs to be resized soemwhat, the cost per square foot for the church will be approximately the same. If it cost $100/sqft to build a 10,000sqft building, it will probably be the same price per square foot to build a 9,000 or 12,000sf building based on the same plan. Personally, I find these sample plan sets to be very helpful. All too often churches don't believe me when I tell them how much a building project will take. They are always sure they can get it done much cheaper. For churches with unrealistic expectations, this is a great way to confirm if they can actually build it for what they believe. If they can, Praise God, if not, they have lost very little. (I may not have been able to keep them from shooting themselves in the foot, but I did at least switch them to a lower caliber that made a smaller hole. LOL)
If your church is in a hurry for whatever reason, it can have church building plans in hand in days instead of weeks or months. The full sample plan set in PDF format can be used to:
- Get an accurate cost, or better yet, a firm bid, from a builder.
- Be submitted as part of your inital loan application package.
- Used for a preliminary plan review meeting with your local building department.
- Uses as a planning document to communicate desired changes, and much more...