Over the 40 plus years we’ve been in business, we’ve seen all sorts of leaders make any number of important decisions about their church. It comes with the territory—there are so many options to be considered when one undertakes a church remodeling project. The daunting number of choices also means that if you’re not a professional in the church building field, you can sometimes make costly mistakes.

Our vice president of architecture, Philip Tipton, has been sharing some cautionary tales. In this post, his story illustrates the importance of bringing in professionals early in the church remodeling process.

Church Building Assessments and Feasibility Studies

One piece of advice Philip often gives prospective clients is that it’s never too early to involve professionals in a church remodeling project. A church building expert, whether it’s The McKnight Group or not, can assist your church’s leaders with money and time-saving advice.

We’ve conducted numerous assessments and feasibility studies as part of the early design phase to determine multiple remodeling approaches and which one best fits a church’s vision. The scope of work often goes beyond the building itself. There are also zoning implications, utility availability, and many other factors, from slopes to sidewalks, that need to be considered.

Given the complexity of some church remodels, we’re only too happy to answer questions of all types in order to help church leaders avoid costly mistakes.

A Church Remodeling Cautionary Tale

One such mistake amounts to our next cautionary tale.

The church leaders in this story found what they thought would be the perfect church building for their renovation project. The two-story building had been a store up to this point, and one of the selling points for the building was the hill upon which it was built. Both levels of the building opened “to grade,” which means that it had external entrances on two levels.

The church’s leadership bought the building and then engaged us to undertake their church remodel.

The problem was that the building had been built for “mercantile use,” which meant the top floor had been designed to handle only 40 pounds per square foot. That’s fine for a store, where individuals and small groups of shoppers wander around a large open space.

But the church leaders envisioned an adult worship space on the top floor, which was rated at far less than the 100 pounds per square foot required for “assembly use.” Think about it: When you’ve got a worship space filled to capacity with people in chairs or pews, that’s a lot more weight to support than what most retail settings experience.

The church leaders got the bad news once the building had been inspected. We had to tell them that every single second-floor bar joist in the building would have to be reinforced in order to support the required additional weight.

As Philip puts it, that additional expense “was almost a project killer.”

Consult Before You Invest

This is why we say that you can’t involve church remodeling experts too early in the process. When you are first starting to envision a church building project, that’s the time to bring in the professionals.

We’re happy to help you avoid costly mistakes that can potentially drain resources and keep you from focusing on your church’s vision. It’s also why we share our i3 webinar series for free (simply visit our website and sign up)—we want churches to succeed in their building projects, not become the next cautionary tale.