The McKnight Group’s free i3 webinars are a great way to gain valuable insights into the church building process. Not only do these webinars provide an opportunity to learn more about the intricacies of church design and building, but they also offer a platform to get your questions answered directly by our experts. In a recent webinar, titled “How to Transform the Building You Have into the Building You Need,” participants asked some insightful questions, and we’re here to share them and our answers.

Q: What is the usual timeline from drawing up the initial plans to finishing the project?

The timeline for your church building project can vary significantly, depending on several factors. The process begins with the design phase, during which you decide on the project’s scope and budget. This phase can take anywhere from a couple of months to possibly six months or longer, depending on how long it takes to agree on what the plans should cover, what the costs are, and what the budget can handle.

Once the initial plans are solidified, the next steps involve completing “Engineering and Architecture” to obtaining building permits and finalize construction plans. This phase can add another four to six months to your timeline. The overall duration varies greatly depending on the complexity of your project, whether it’s a simple remodel or a more extensive renovation or addition.

In summary, we recommend planning for a front-end timeline of approximately six to nine months for the initial phases of your project. The construction phase can vary from a few weeks to several months, largely influenced by the scope, along with supply chain and workforce availability. Today’s challenges, such as supply chain disruptions and labor shortages, have led to increased construction schedules, sometimes significantly so.

Q: Is there a percentage of building costs that should be devoted to merely aesthetics and not just function?

This really depends on your church’s specific goals and priorities for the project – what the church’s vision for ministry is. It’s a thoughtful process that involves assessing your church’s needs and the current state of the facility.

Some projects may primarily focus on aesthetics, such as updating worn-out carpets, materials, and lighting. Others may prioritize improving functionality, such as creating spaces that better serve your church’s needs. The division of your budget between aesthetics and function should align with your project’s objectives and the preferences of your congregation. There’s no right or wrong percentage.

Q: Do you often suggest tearing down buildings, rather than a remodel?

The answer to this question is another one that falls into the “it depends” category. In most cases, we do not recommend tearing down a building unless certain conditions justify it.

Remodeling an existing building is generally more cost-effective and environmentally friendly. It’s a viable option when the building’s structural integrity is intact, and there’s minimal deferred maintenance or necessary repairs. Tearing down a building involves significant costs and resources, which is why it’s more advantageous to work with the existing structure whenever possible.

However, there are situations when tearing down a building may be the better choice. For example, when you’re landlocked and have no space for expansion, or when the cost of remodeling becomes prohibitive due to structural issues or other constraints, then demolition and reconstruction may be the more practical route.

These are just some of the insights church leaders can gain by attending our free i3 webinars. These webinars will return in 2024, and the new list of topics will be announced soon. Meanwhile, visit our website for more details on I3 webinars, and the church building and design expertise offered by The McKnight Group.