church-architect-building-budgeting-expertiseOver our last several posts, we’ve shown you some of the elements needed to make the best possible presentation when seeking financing for a new church building or remodeling project. But the fact is you’re still pulling together different pieces of information, and the people providing those pieces don’t always understand each other’s perspectives.

Shortcomings with Using an Architect Inexperienced with Churches

For example, in our most recent article we talked about how schematic design studies are key for getting the right budget information to a lending institution. But your average architect doesn’t necessarily have all that estimating information. Here’s how our own Philip J. Tipton, Vice President of Architecture, explained it in an i3 webinar:

I’m a registered architect, so I’m certainly not intending to insult my profession. But I will say this: I don’t personally believe that architects are the best estimators. We’re good at what we do, but the people who really know day-to-day costs, who just have a pulse on what things are really costing, are the contractors and subcontractors. They know every day what prices are doing. Architects certainly have friends that we can call, networks of people, but we’re not doing estimating in the capacity and detail that contractors are. So there’s a big risk, in my opinion, if the architect is the only person on your team leading up to the point of bidding—a risk that potentially you might be over budget, and then you might have problems.

Design-Bid-Build versus Design-Build

So how can you avoid the problems Philip talks about? The answer is by using a Design-Build approach to your church building.

When an architect works separately from the builder, it’s usually in a traditional Design-Bid-Build environment. We discussed this in-depth in a prior post. The process involves having architects and engineers create a full set of drawings, then sending those drawings out for potential contractors to bid upon. The property owner then selects one of those contractors to construct the church building.

The problem with Design-Bid-Build is that you’re dealing with two different companies that don’t necessarily work well together or understand each other. Cost overruns are usually blamed on “the other side,” and your budget can end up in tatters by the time construction is finished.

With Design-Build, both the architect and the building contractor work together on the project from the beginning. This minimizes the chance for miscommunication and the “blame game” from occurring.

Keeping Your Church Building Budget in Line

It takes a special relationship in the building process to get the best information, and the design-build relationship does that. The church architect can consult with his or her construction colleagues on the actual current costs of various elements being included in the drawings. This means your budget is constructed with accurate information right from the start.

We think Design Build is better, especially when the architect and builder are under the same roof. And it’s a process that’s certainly worked very well for our firm, as we’ve been successfully completing church building projects for decades. That experience has uncovered a number of other advantages to Design-Build in addition to good budgeting.

Learn More with Us

We will share more about those advantages in our next post. Meanwhile, we invite you to visit our website, where you can sign up for our free i3 webinars and discover more of the lessons we’ve learned as a successful design-build business.