Utilities are another early factor when planning your dream church. These, along with zoning and building codes, are areas that may seem straightforward, but can require careful consideration. This is especially true with new buildings and sites.

Working with a professional to guide you on how utilities are going to affect your design is always recommended. However, we are sharing our insights to help you have a better understanding.

Single-Phase vs. Three-Phase Electricity

The need for electricity is a given, but not necessarily the same feeds are available everywhere. The two common ways electricity is distributed are called single-phase and three-phase.

Think of single-phase as being more appropriate for residential buildings. Large equipment cannot operate off of single-phase electricity. Take HVAC, for instance.  You wouldn’t be able to put a large HVAC system in if single-phase was the only electricity available — you’d have to install several small HVAC systems instead. Three-phase provides power for the needs of bigger commercial equipment.

City vs. Well Water

Water is another concern, especially when it comes to fire suppression. Can you tap into city water? If you plan a new facility to hold more than 300 occupants, then the building code requires you to have a sprinkler system. Ohio is the lone state that has a higher threshold (1000 occupants).

If you have well water, you may do fine if your church building is smaller. However, sprinkling your entire building is difficult to do with well water. You will need to install additional infrastructure, such as generators, fire pumps, and holding tanks, which can be very costly. If you’re out in the country with no city water supply, just be aware that you will probably have to spend some money.

Sewer and Gas Considerations

Another consideration is sewer. Do you have a city sewer system you can use, or are you going to need a septic system on your site? A septic system will take up land and require its own infrastructure. You also need to consider if natural gas is available. If it is, it can likely lessen electrical needs.

These things all play a role in planning your project. If your church building has access to city utilities, expect to pay fees to connect to them. If your church is in a rural setting, you may have to pay major expenses upfront for equipment that allows you to use well and septic systems. Once you know more about the situation with your utilities, you can begin your schematic designs, the topic of our next post.

Interested in learning about what goes on behind the scenes of a building project? Join us for our i3 webinar series to learn the latest trends in church building and design. These free sessions can be streamed live from your computer, and you are given the opportunity to ask questions.