church-building-budgeting-principlesWhether or not your church building committee decides to invest in a feasibility study (a topic we recently covered and something we believe is a wise investment in any future church design or building project), there’s a lot to consider when crafting estimates in a church’s building budget beyond the architectural and construction costs. With that in mind, here are some helpful budgeting tips to help ensure your next church building or renovation project goes smoothly every step of the way.

It’s Not Just About the Church Building

Of course, the church building itself will usually represent the bulk of a project’s cost. But there are other expenses that also must be factored into a building project, and since they represent a smaller percentage of the overall costs, it’s possible they can be overlooked.

Fees, for example, are one area where costs can grow quickly. These can include building permit fees, utility fees, permit fees for various types of site work, as well as architectural and engineering fees.

Speaking of site work, that includes another set of costs most church leaders wouldn’t think of: dirt work—to prepare the land for building, parking lots, sidewalks, etc. You also have to allow for parking lot lighting, as well as water, gas, electric, and sewer connections that might need to be installed or upgraded.

Don’t Forget the FF&E

What’s FF&E, you ask? It stands for furnishings, fixtures, and equipment, and for a church these items can get pricey. Think about the electronics alone: sound systems, video systems, camera equipment, not to mention lighting.

Furnishings, of course, include not just chairs, tables, and podiums, but also risers and the equipment you need to move all that stuff around if you want to change your worship space into, say, a banquet room.

Professional Assistance with Budgeting

Fortunately, you—and we—don’t have to go it alone when it comes to budgeting. There are organizations such as the American Society of Professional Estimators or the American Association of Cost Engineering that can provide assistance.

These folks have developed different types or classes of estimates based on the work being done or progress of a project. Estimates are based on industry standards for everything from basic conception through change orders, and include what percentage of estimates can be defined.

At the budgeting stage, before a build, that category tops out at only about 40 percent of the total estimated cost, meaning that 60 percent will be relatively unknown early on.

This uncertainty is why, when we develop preliminary estimates along with our church designs and blueprints, we advise that you include a budgetary buffer  based on your design’s level of detail. That helps to ensure you develop a sufficient funding plan and provides helpful information you can use when speaking with loan officers or fundraising professionals.

The More Information, the Better

So when it comes to planning a new or renovated church building, remember that there’s more to the bottom line than just the cost of the building itself. And there’s more to our work than just designing and building your church.

We want to provide you with the best in customer service, which is why we share so much information through these articles and our free i3 webinar series. As a new year begins and a new series of webinars gets underway, we hope you will remember to visit our website and sign up for more insights into the church building process.