In our last article, we covered construction documents and zoning approval, the home stretch to creating the church building of your dreams. There’s one more step to take before construction can begin: getting a building permit and a contractor.

Lining Up the Building Permit and Determining Jurisdiction

Obtaining a building permit is a final step, because you typically need to have the zoning approval first, depending on your jurisdiction. And getting the permit may not always be straightforward. If you’re in a small town, for example, the town government might issue residential building permits, but not commercial ones. Therefore, you might have to go to the county, or even the state, to get the needed permit. It can also get tricky sometimes because your property may be located within two jurisdictions—the city and the county, for example—so it may not be clear where to submit for a permit, but your design professional can help you with this.

Typically, after submitting for a permit, the regulating agency has 30 to 45 days to respond with a correction or a clarification letter. If you receive one, that just means they’re asking more questions. or need more details before they approve everything.

The most common timeframe we run into for permitting is about six to eight weeks, but this depends on the jurisdiction. In some instances, it can take six months or longer. You may also find that metro areas take longer than rural areas, for example.

Finding a Contractor and Ordering Materials

Now is also the time to line up a contractor. This is already taken care of with design-build firms like The McKnight Group. If you don’t use a design-build firm, you will be reaching out to contractors on your own for quotes. That quote will be based on several factors, including pricing the contractor receives from subcontractors and suppliers. This takes time, and they will want to check it over for accuracy before presenting you with a construction contract and an amount. 

Once you sign the agreement, it may take several weeks to a few months before the construction can start. Time is needed to mobilize everyone who will work on the project, and materials must be ordered. Given the current supply chain issues and the high demand for construction contractors, expect delays rather than speed.

Sometimes, especially on small remodels, even though we order materials well in advance, we will wait for them all to come in before beginning work. We don’t want to tear up a building and have church members without that space, and without knowing when work can be completed.

Looking for more insights into church building and design? Sign up for our i3 webinars for ideas and inspiration. We discuss the latest topics and trends, and give you a behind-the-scenes look into the steps involved in taking your project from idea to reality. Speaking of reality, in our next post, we’ll discuss the construction phase of your dream church building!