If you are planning to take on a church building or church design project in 2021, one important question to ask is, “What is it going to cost?” Having a ballpark estimate of the financial requirements of a project is the first step to understanding your realistic financial potential and how current economic factors may impact decision-making.

The McKnight Group’s Philip Tipton, our VP of Architecture, with over 25 years’ church design experience, recently discussed creating an accurate financial estimate in an i3 webinar. Here are the costs you might expect when undertaking a church building or design project in 2021, as well as some of financing options he discussed.

Church Building Construction Costs for 2021

In 2020, as a general rule of thumb new church construction in the Midwest costs approximately $125 to $150 per square foot. This is for a typical modern church.  It can cost a great deal more depending upon your options or a little less if you want to be spartan with your building.  This estimation is dependent on the church building project location and includes the building alone. Additional costs to consider include site work, drawings, permits, furniture, audio, video, lighting systems, kitchen equipment, etc.

If erecting a new church building, construction costs including all new infrastructure, utilities and parking, architecture, engineering and permits will be about $200 to $250 per square foot. But purchase of land is not included in this estimate.

Be aware that remodeling projects might cost either less or more than new-build estimations, depending on the layout of the building, its materials, and the complexity of your church redesign.

COVID’s Impact on Church Construction Costs

As we enter 2021, another consideration is how the pandemic might impact the building costs and timeline. While construction is booming, both access to and the costs of materials continue to fluctuate. For example, the cost of lumber has nearly doubled in the past year. We recommend that churches have realistic expectations about how COVID could affect resource availability or inflate the prices of materials.

Financing Options for Church Building Projects

The most important advice we give to church leaders that are considering how to finance a church building project is to know their options. Churches must determine what is best for them, as well as both their short- and long-term goals. Realistic financing requirements set the project up for success before construction even begins.

A capital stewardship or fundraising campaign is one popular financing option. In the past, we have worked with many churches participating in a fundraising campaign to acquire the resources needed to undertake a church building, design or remodel project. We have also collaborated with several capital stewardship organizations that help churches plan and execute these campaigns. See our outline of the key elements of a successful stewardship campaign for more details.

Other frequently used sources of funding for church building are banks or lending institutions. We can help provide the needed materials to apply for and secure a traditional loan.

Additionally, since the 1980s, we have become familiar with various unconventional financing options, such as bond programs. Although bond sales are not common any longer, we can help our church clients navigate the details of these options.

For more information regarding costs and financial options for church building projects, and other information on church design, we invite you to participate in one or more of our i3 webinars. For 2021, we’ve thoughtfully designed these topical conversations to help you interactively learn as you prepare for the future.