How many churches have you met with that have never spoken with their architect about their financial ability? How many churches have you met with that do not understand the difference between construction costs and project costs? Too many times I am faced with a committee that does not want to share their finances with me or for that matter has never even discussed their financial ability with the finance officer of their church. How is an architect supposed to design a feasible solution to meet their needs if no one knows how much money there will be to build with? Or for that matter when an architect is informed that the church has a one million dollar building budget, but then neglects to inquire if that is for the project cost or the construction cost and designs a one million dollar facility only to realize when all is said and done the church only has seventy-five percent or less of their budget left for the building once all the soft cost are paid.
I work during the Master Planning process within the first few meetings with the committee to establish a project budget together. (See: Project Finance Worksheet – Preliminary Building Budget) This preliminary project budget will estimate their potential resources and project expenses, thus allowing us a better guess as to what is left for the construction cost of the building. Time and time again the rule of thumb that construction cost is approximately 75 percent of the project cost is proven true. However, recently, over the past number of years, this rule has been put to the test due to the ever-increasing requirements placed on projects by land development and zoning ordinances. With storm water management controls and defined parking with curbs and gutters, the days of a church building a building and putting out a bit of gravel for the parking has stopped. Along with the fees for a civil engineer, land development costs have become one of the fastest rising line item in a project’s budget.
During the Master Planning stage of the process, I also discuss the need for the church to hire a professional Capitol Funds Campaign (CFC) manager. Some do not want to spend the money for these services, but I share with them that it has been proven, time and again, that if a church tries to do this process on their own they will usually only bring in approximately 40% of what a professional manager might raise. I also share that most lending institutes will more readily accept pledges a church receive under a professional CFC quicker than if done in-house. Ultimately all the estimating and guessing of potential resources and expenses are just that, estimates and guesses. It is not until the loan is closed and the bids are in the all this guess-work is ended and the true numbers fall out. Until then all is unknown.
John W.G. Rosecrans, AIA is the Owner and President of DIMENSIONAL DYNAMICS, Architects and Planners, Inc. located at 455 Old Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford, PA 19317. phone: 610.388.0755 fax 610.388.2761 email: firstname.lastname@example.org webpage: www.dimdyn.com