Good News for Pastors: Expansion is Now More Affordable Than Ever

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Believe me when I say this. The most frequently asked question I get every day is, “How much does a steel church building cost?” The honest answer? It really depends.

When you plan to expand to a new steel church building, usually the most important factor to people is cost, for obvious reasons. But the aforementioned question is one of the hardest to answer without knowing the specific needs of your church. There are several variables that can affect the final overall price when building your dream church. First, you’ll need to calculate the cost of the base building. This is where the expertise of a building consultant comes in handy. Good news for your church – usually the bigger the building, the lower the overall cost per square foot.

There are several reasons why expansion is more affordable than ever. With rising steel prices, it’s good to get in while prices are low, and you can do that by securing your steel price early. The price of steel as a commodity will rise and fall just like gas, oil or gold prices. Unfortunately, the price of finished steel will always rise, rather than drop. That’s because of shipping, quality, and supply and demand of the steel plus labor rates. That’s why I recommend securing your steel price as soon as you can. You’ll be able to counter the fluctuations of the market, and keep your basic costs low. Even if you don’t plan on building right away, it’s still worth investigating.

What goes into the cost per square foot calculation? You have to take into account more than a few factors; from design, accessories, foundation, and construction.

Sometimes, they way you design a steel church building can make a difference in the cost. Churches that choose to design with an architect will have to shell out a large amount of capital from their church’s building capital campaign to pay for the design process. An elaborate church with special construction materials will cost way more than a simple steel structure. But if you choose to go with a steel building supplier, the design process is included into the cost. That’s right! The abilities of structural designers who work at steel building companies are incorporated into the cost of your steel church building. The design process isn’t an extra expense. You eliminate the need for architectural fees.

steel church buildingLocation also makes a big difference in cost. For instance, a 24,000 square foot building in Los Angeles, CA might cost more than a building in rural Texas. This is because a building is designed based on geographic location and the loads it’s engineered to withstand. More steel might go into the California building because of the earthquake potential (seismic loads), while the steel building in Texas won’t see the same kind of seismic activity, but have to be braced for wind (wind loads). Every steel building in engineered to meet specific zoning codes and loads.

Will you need accessories for your new steel church building? Of course! Whether it’s beautiful stained glass or self-framing windows, you’ll want to bring an inviting and bright atmosphere to your place of worship. Doors and other accessories also play a part in your building cost per square foot. You’ll want to add gutters and possibly downspouts on your steel church building to support the integrity of the foundation, as well as protect any painted or metal siding. If you decided to make use of the Direct Buy Process, you’ll save on these accessories, because you’ll be able to pick precisely what you want straight from a catalog. The Direct Buy Process allows pastors, church leaders, and all types of builders to control their costs by making their own selections on building accessories and dimensions. This way, you can control your own costs and fit your needs into your specific budget.

Foundations and construction costs will affect how expensive your steel church building will be. These are costs that your steel building provider can’t control, but you can! Foundations will be an obligatory cost, unless you decide to build a pole building for a church. Your budget must include a plan for clearing and grading your property, and might increase if you decided on a specialized foundation, like a stem wall. As far as construction goes, steel buildings are easy to erect, and the cost of erection decreases drastically if you decide to build your building yourself.

steel church buildingDon’t always base your projects on cost per square foot. Without knowing exactly what is factored into the cost, the cost per square foot of your building could be quite misleading. That being said, steel buildings, with all considerations that I spoke about, is generally one of the most cost effective building materials.

There might never be a right time to expand to a new church building. But there is a time to get the most for your money. That time could be now.

Photo courtesy: Scott Schram

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