If you’ve been one of the many church leaders to attend one of The McKnight Group’s free i3 webinars, you know about the added bonus of getting your questions answered at the end. Here are some questions that we answered during our recent webinar on building your dream church.

What’s the current cost of construction, and how does timing impact it?

Two main factors affect construction cost over time — one is inflation, and the other is building code changes. Inflation in construction used to be between 1–2 percent. Recent events have changed that dramatically. Inflation hopefully peeked around 8 -10 percent per year in 2021/2022.  Now we’re seeing inflation in the 3 – 4 percent every six months in construction. So, right now, that’s about 6 – 8 percent inflation per year. Obviously, it will be to your church’s advantage to build as soon as you can. And keep in mind that the preliminary steps take 18 to 24 months before construction starts.

The other part of the question: what is a rough cost estimate per square foot for new construction? Building costs these days could be anywhere from $195–$250 per square foot. That doesn’t even include other costs like site fees, permits, furnishings, and equipment. Currently, these factors increase the estimated cost per square foot to $300–$350 for a project.

What is the usual timeline for an entire project?

Typically, the design phase could take anywhere from three to six months — shorter if people are in a rush, longer if people are figuring things out. If you’re in a hurry, our only caution is that the design phase is typically where you have the most influence on how much things are going to cost. The more that you define things, the less leeway you’ll have to affect the costs. So, thinking through the design phase and making sure it’s meeting your ministry needs is the most important part to get the most for your money. If you take the average three to six months to work that out, you’ll come up with a pretty good plan.

We’ve talked about being unified at the beginning, having your vision, and setting your goals. If neither are clear, the process can take much longer, and when we begin to ask questions, if the church leaders aren’t unified or worked things through, the design process can really slow down. So, keep that in mind.

Next you have your stewardship time, which can add another three to four months at minimum. Allow another three to four months to obtain permits, plus the six to eight-week wait for the permit. This brings us to about a year.

A year from the time you start planning to the time you start the work would be doable, but it’s a fast schedule. So, the variables are how quickly you can decide and where your stewardship falls. For example, if you finish your design around Easter, you’ll wait until fall to kick off your stewardship campaign, because it takes time to prepare for that. So, those time frames can vary greatly.

Interested in learning more about church building and design? Sign up for our free i3 webinar series, which covers a different topic in each session. Registration is open for the remaining 2023 webinars. We’d love for you to join us!