When it comes to choosing the right type of construction for your new church building, you might be surprised what pre-engineered metal buildings bring to the discussion. While you’ve probably mostly seen them as huge, metal warehouses, these buildings have evolved significantly over the years. Some features of these pre-engineered metal buildings, or PEMBs, can make them a wise and economical choice for the underlying structure of your new church building.

What is a PEMB?

Basically a PEMB is made with pre-engineered, standardized components. These usually include elements like the purlins (horizontal roof beams) and girts (horizontal wall supports), as well as the main frame of the building and end walls. The “pre-engineered” part means that the design and engineering work has already been completed. Even so, there’s still flexibility to customize the components into a beautiful, functional new structure.

Aside from offering potential building cost savings, PEMBs are advantageous because they come in a complete package. This means that, once the foundation work has been completed, the entire shell of the building can be easily, and relatively quickly, built on site. Because the package is pre-engineered, you know that the design has been proven to work, so you also don’t have to worry about whether there will be any structural issues down the line.

When is a PEMB a Good Church Building Choice?

One of the great advantages to PEMBs is that their design allows for large clear spans. A clear span is a long building frame that does not have to be supported with columns. Standard construction, such as an office or retail building, tends to be designed as multi-span, which requires column support every 40 feet or so. This is fine for buildings containing small shops or office areas, but not so great when you want everyone to have a clear view of your worship stage and screens. Clear spans can extend from 50 to as much as 200 feet, giving every member of your audience a clear view of what’s happening in your worship center.

When The McKnight Group begins work on a church building, we start with the design and then determine the best structural system to support it. Many church buildings are 10,000 to 30,000 square feet, and many times PEMBs provide a very efficient and cost-effective structural and roofing system for a building of that size. In these cases, using a PEMB can mean being a good steward of the money you’ve raised for your new church building.

However, PEMBs are not always the right choice. They work best with rectangular or square areas. Unusual shapes, or high slopes, can add to the cost of the PEMB, and eventually make it more expensive than other types of construction. This is why it’s important to work with an experienced church building company that looks first to your church’s vision and design, and then determines whether a PEMB is the right choice.

In our next post, we will talk about creative ways to use PEMBs and showcase some of the buildings we’ve designed and built using this method. Meanwhile, keep up with all the latest information on this and other church building and remodeling topics by signing up for our free i3 webinar series.