Cost per square foot is a measure sometimes used in building construction. It can be helpful to give folks a “ballpark” idea or “guesstimate” of how much a building project might cost, but there are several reasons why you don’t want to strongly rely on ballpark budgets, when it comes to a church building project. The following are three elements that can greatly impact the cost per square foot, and that can also make a big difference in the quality and functionality of your finished church design.

Level of Service

You might hear a contractor tell you that they can design and construct your church building for $100 per square foot. This might sound like a good number, but what does it get you? This number is just for the building and does not include other project cost that make up a complete project budget. Will there be additional costs for multiple design meetings, or revisions to the initial church design drawings? Sometimes it takes a few revisions to incorporate every element of your church vision in a workable fashion, and costs can quickly add up if you’re having to pay for each revision to your church design schematics.

There’s also the question of construction supervision once the church building process is underway. Will you have a superintendent on the job site, eight hours a day, every day, or will that person be overseeing multiple projects at one time? If they’re not dedicated to your church building project, you might only see them every other day or maybe just for a few hours per day, which could lead to problems and delays if the crew can’t get problems addressed in a timely fashion.

Level of Church Building Experience

Another issue to keep in mind with ballpark cost figures is the level of experience you would get with a lower offer. There are many types of buildings, and different specialists to handle each type. Imagine that you were charged with building a new hospital. Would you hire a residential contractor to design and build that hospital? Hopefully not! Hospitals have unique requirements and specific design needs, which residential construction teams know nothing about.

When it comes to church design, it is critical to hire a firm that understands ministry. If they can’t understand your church vision for reaching out to your community, they will have no idea how your church building can help, or hinder, that process.

Level of Church Design Quality

Finally, it’s key to understand what quality of products you would receive with any square foot budget. Would your church building be move-in ready, or will there be additional costs for the audiovisual wiring and production room you’ll need for livestreaming worship? Have they included the cost of quality professional finishes (from flooring and furniture to café and kitchen furnishings) that a busy and high-traffic church building needs?  Does the HVAC equipment have an expected life span of 5 years, 10 years or 20 years?

Our goal here isn’t to frighten you, but to educate you. We’ve heard stories about church leaders that have struggled because they accepted lower cost estimates and didn’t get a church building that could really support their vision for ministry. This is why we share so many free i3 webinars each year—to keep you informed on how to end up with the church design you need. To learn more, sign up for our upcoming webinars today.