Church Plans for Your Building Program
Developing Church Plans
For a church
contemplating building, one of the first things that many churches
do is to try to determine what the building will look like - they
start looking at church plans.
While there are some things that the church leadership needs to do
before they start considering church plans (see
Before You Develop a Church Building Plan for more information),
there comes the proper time to develop the church floor plan and
elevation. Hopefully you have a realistic understanding of
what you can afford and what your ministry needs to build to
accomplish the mission of the church - if not, please back up a
sentence and click the link. With an understanding of needs,
wants and budget, it is time to develop the church plan for
Church Plans: Three
There are several ways
that your church can get church plans for construction. The
church could hire a
they could find a design/build
firm, or they can buy existing
church plans from previous building programs. Each method
has its advantages and disadvantages. There are some
interesting posts in the
Church Design & Construction Blog on church
design that are worth reading.
Your local architect will
be happy to tell you why they are the best solution, and a
design/build firm will tout the advantages of the design/build
process (and there are several) over using an existing church plan.
Both of them will probably tell you it is anything from a bad idea
to unethical to consider using an existing set of church plans for
your church. Since they make less money when you save money on
design, it is not surprising that they might take this position, so
allow me to take the other position and talk about how your church
may realize substantial savings in time and cost in developing their
church building plans.
Before I go any further,
let me first say that there are many times when you will need to
find a good and experienced church architect to design a church plan from scratch.
There are times when the complexity of the project requires a local
architect who can craft the right solution to the church's needs.
However, for many churches, the process is just not that complex,
and what they need to build is remarkably similar to one of the
several hundred thousand churches already designed and built.
If there is a reasonable alternative that will save the church time
and money in developing church plans, it should be explored.
This is not to say that your church won't need an architect, quite
will need a church architect!
Using Existing Church
As the process of church
design changed from paper and pencil to computer, the thought
process behind how they price their work did not keep pace with the
technology. In the past every church building plan, no matter how
much like a previous plan, had to be drawn from scratch. Today, a
church architect can pull up church plan off of the computer's hard
drive that is similar to the one the church has decided it prefers,
make the modifications, and deliver a customized plan in a fraction
of the time that it would take to draft it from scratch. However,
the price of those services is often priced the old fashioned way,
as if the architect had done all the work from scratch. To be fair,
this is not true of all architects, nor is making the church's
design changes a trivial task, nor is the creation of a church
building plan the only design service the architect provides for
If your church can find a
set of building plans that is very close in size and design to what it needs
for ministry and can have those floor plans modified and delivered less
expensively than design from scratch, then it should seriously
consider the option. It is not uncommon for a church to save
30-50% or more in church design using
existing church plans modified
to the meet the needs, site requirements and local building codes.
If the church plans require little or no modification, or in those
states and counties where a set of church plans does not need to be
sealed by an architect, the savings can be even greater.
Besides the cost benefit,
the church will save time and effort in the design process.
Working drawings that are modified from an existing church plans can
often be changed and provided to the church in a matter of a weeks
instead of months. Besides saving time and money, the effort
to the church is greatly reduced. Since it has (hopefully)
already determined a reasonable budget and space requirements
through a needs and feasibility analysis,
if it can find a plan that is close to its needs, it is much quicker
to modify than to create.
If the church has
concerns about construction costs (and it should), it can mitigate a
great deal of cost and risk by getting a set of unsealed
construction/design documents and presenting them to a builder for a
quote. If the price of the building is not in line with their
budget, then they can redesign the building into phases, or purchase
the correct size of plan. The advantage lies in not having to
spend months and tens of thousands of dollars in design work to find
out the church cannot afford to build the plans as designed.
Finding Existing Church
Your church should only
buy church plans from the architect that designed the building in
the first place. Many states have very strict laws regarding
architectural services. If the architect supplying the plans
is not licensed in your state, you will need to have a local
architect do the modifications to the church plans. If the
architect is licensed in your state, the church should have the
option of using the original architect or a local architect to make
any requested or required changes. Click here to access hundreds
of church floor plans.