| The Value of Good Building Plans for Your Church: Developing a Master Plan|
|A complete and carefully prepared set of building plans is the real "foundation" of any building. It's difficult to place a value on the architectural design because it not only conveys most of the intangible artistic elements that will give the building its unique "personality", but it includes the technical information required by the craftsmen who will work on the project.|
A good set of architectural plans will include enough information for any qualified builder to get complete and comparable bids from all of the major trades who will be required for the project. The goal of the owner should be to provide the contractors, the lender, and the congregation with enough details and specifications that all major questions regarding construction are answered in the architectural plans. A good set of architectural plans will reduce misunderstandings and errors and should foster a well-organized and efficient building project. All of which translates into time and money saved. Incomplete plans invite change orders, conflict, poor scheduling, and extra cost. Assumptions can kill a building project. Good plans reduce assumptions.
The plans and specifications also give the owner and the architect a means of judging the performance of the craftsmen on the job. If the plans call for 4000 lb. concrete and 95% compaction of the subgrade, these are verifiable standards of performance which must be met by the contractor. Simply put, an investment in good architectural plans can save a church more than just money.
Your church also needs to think about Master Plans. A well-conceived building design anticipates the need of the church to expand its facilities and redefine the usage of space as the church grows. A "Master Plan" can be developed with the help of an architect to plan for the various phases of facility development that the church can foresee at their location. The benefits to the church of such planning are significant. A Master Plan will help the church use its land in the most efficient manner and should result in reduced costs when the time comes for the next addition or renovation project.
The church should consider how the utilities are being brought into the building and insure that those utilities (sewer, water, electrical and gas services) are adequate to meet the planned needs for the future. Another important consideration is the location of the utilities. Avoid installing underground utilities and parking areas in locations suitable for future building additions.
The church should also locate the facilities on the site with a long-range view of future development. If the initial structure will be used as a sanctuary and will later be converted into classrooms or fellowship space, perhaps this facility should be located on the site in an area behind the proposed sanctuary to be built in Phase Two of the Master Plan. Plumbing for future kitchens, baptistery, or restrooms can be roughed-in to save costs and headaches later.
Since it is God's plan for the church body to grow, we need to plan our facilities accordingly. A Master Plan of present and anticipated future development will save the church money in the future and will result in efficient utilization of land and facilities.