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Five Reasons to Hire an Owner's Representative for Your Next Church Construction Project

by Nathan Artt, on April 2019

For almost every church in America, an expansion project, whether your first permanent campus or your fifth multisite campus, will be the largest one-time expense of capital in the history of your church. Because of the way churches do ministry, money inevitably has a tremendous impact on the culture of the church.  Wouldn’t it be great to have your building pay for itself so that you could accelerate the future growth and give money to personnel and outreach?

Abraham Lincoln once said “give me six hours to chop down a tree and I’ll spend the first four sharpening the axe.” What does that mean for a church planning a building project?

It means that the better you are at the process of selecting the right team, designing within budget, coordinating the large number of processes within the one large process, the easier your life will be once you actually break ground.

We’ve learned that there are two distinct challenges in navigating a growth project of any kind:

  1. Getting to construction
  2. Getting through construction

Getting this right is critical. For this reason (and the fact that most lead pastors don’t have a background in real estate development), churches often opt to hire an outside expert to help them navigate the challenges of getting the church to construction. Here are a few reasons why.

Experience

Church owner’s representatives are people who have successfully led other organizations through the painstaking process of planning a building project. They know what questions to ask, how to identify the right consultants, how to create the systems that facilitate accountability and communication, and how to keep everyone on the team accountable to the process.

When interviewing potential candidates, be sure that the people you are interviewing have more than just construction experience. Remember that the bigger challenge is getting TO construction. Having someone who knows construction is only half the battle. Again, until you break ground, you’re not in construction. Having an owner’s rep who understands finance, budgets, AVL coordination, FFE procurement, other planning-related responsibilities, and one who has been in charge of hiring and managing architects and engineers is as, if not more, important than knowing how things are built.

Best Practices

One thing that is extremely beneficial about working with someone who only does this type of work is that you are able to leverage all of the mistakes and wins from other organizations. Someone who has led a team through a large number of projects knows outcomes before they happen and is able to plan accordingly.

The Good Ones Pay for Themselves

A lot of money is spent during the planning process on architects, engineers, and other consultants. A lot! Having someone at the table who knows the right questions to ask, how to plan costing, team selection, and other essential elements means that you get a lot more building for the price. The good owner’s reps are able to pay for themselves many times over  through keeping people accountable in the design process with the building, site, AVL, FFE, and all other items.

Focus

One of the biggest challenges in a building project is distraction. A growing church is already understaffed and relies heavily on a volunteer base. This usually means that the lead pastor and executive pastor are pulled into meetings, often to do crisis management (“how did we get this far out of budget?”). Not only are there many, many consultants involved, which requires a high amount of coordination, but there are also important processes to follow in order to keep people accountable to timelines and budgets. You are already busy, and taking this on yourself means that you will have less time to focus on the things that got you here in the first place: vision, staffing, culture, planning, etc. A good owner’s representative will take on the day to day tasks so that you can stay focused on growing the church and will only have to weigh in on important design and function-related topics.

Acceleration of Vision

Getting more building for less money means that you will spend less time paying for the building, or paying down debt, which puts you in a position to accelerate your vision to expand with other campuses and/or expansions. And if someone is taking on the day-to-day tasks of managing the project, you have much more time to remain focused on growing the church.

Next Steps

Our team at Ministry Solutions has assisted dozens of churches in navigating the hiccups and hurdles of expansion projects, saving pastors like you millions of dollars in time and resources.

We would love to offer your church a Clear Path Analysis to help you understand the best pathway to eliminate the guesswork, accelerate the process, and say yes to growth!

Topics:Facility StrategyChurch Growth

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