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Planning To Build? Some Things To Consider.

Numerous churches and schools are experiencing growth or aging facilities and consequently are planning to construct a new building in the near future.  If your organization is among them, here are some things to consider when designing and planning your building project that may be helpful and make your building project a little easier.

Hire Effective People

  • Hire a design firm – preferably one with experience building churches.
  • Choose a reputable contractor and research the candidates.
  • Make sure they’re licensed and have at least five years of similar experience.
  • Seek examples of work your candidates have done.
  • Check references from several current or past clients and vendors.
  • Ask specific questions such as: Was the project completed on schedule? Was it completed within budget? Were there problems along the way?  Were you pleased with the overall results?


  • Clarify in writing who’s responsible for providing the Builders Risk Insurance (coverage for the building while it’s being constructed).  If the builder is providing, be sure to obtain a copy of that.  The builder can generally provide this less expensive than your primary insurance carrier since they just add to their overall schedule but either way, just be sure this is in force prior to construction beginning.
  • Obtain a certificate of insurance from the contractors you are considering as proof that they carry professional liability insurance.
  • Require the general contractor and all subcontractors to furnish a certificate of insurance verifying that all workers are covered by workers’ compensation insurance.
  • Have an attorney review all contracts before you sign them.

Parking Lot Design: 

  • Parking lot signage should be positioned for easy viewing.
  • Do not use parking blocks in the parking lot. (They are a major cause of trip and fall injuries.)
  • Driveway and parking lot chain barriers should be equipped with reflectors for easy visibility at night.
  • Parking lot should be adequately marked and lighted.
  • There should be exterior dusk-to-dawn lighting on all sides of the building.
  • There should be a wheelchair-accessible ramp.

Nursery Area Design: 

  • Unsecured side door entrances to the nursery area should be avoided. There should only be a single entrance into this area.
  • There should be a secure check-in area/desk.
  • Security cameras in all rooms should be a strong consideration.
  • Nursery and preschool areas need to be situated so that infants, toddlers, and small children can be swiftly evacuated.

Playground Design: 

  • Surfaces around playground equipment should have at least 12 inches of wood chips, mulch, sand or pea gravel, or mats made of safety-tested rubber.
  • Protective surfacing should extend at least 6 feet in all directions from the play equipment.
  • Play structures that are more than 30 inches high should be spaced at least 9 feet apart.
  • All equipment should be securely anchored.
  • Make sure that there is not any dangerous hardware or protruding bolt ends.
  • Make sure there are no tripping hazards such as exposed concrete footings, tree stumps, and rocks.
  • Make sure that all elevated surfaces such as a platforms and ramps, have guardrails to prevent falls.

Kitchen Area Design: 

  • Overhead fluorescent and incandescent lights in food preparation areas should be protected to prevent the possibility of glass particles contaminating food should a light explode or break.
  • Kitchen fire extinguishers should be mounted on a wall near an outside exit.
  • Cooking equipment should be installed on a noncombustible floor surface with adequate clearance from combustible materials.
  • Depending on the frequency or type of cooking, the installation of an automatic fire suppression system above the cooking service is recommended.

General Building Design: 

  • As the building nears completion and especially as contents, including electronics, are stored in the beguiling, arrangements should be made for regular police patrols or a security force drive-by or preferably overnight security provided on site.
  • Centrally monitored burglar alarms are highly recommended.
  • Centrally monitored fire alarms are highly recommended.
  • The installation of sprinkler systems will not only satisfy potential code requirements as your ministry possibly expands to areas you’re not currently considering, but it may also be a significant aid in obtaining insurance and in the cost of that insurance.
  • Emergency exits should open in an outward direction and be equipped with panic hardware.
  • Steps on stairs and stairways should have a surface that is slip resistant.
  • Stair rails or handrails should be included on all stairways with four or more steps.
  • Any rise in the concrete or other surface at entryways should be identified to prevent slips and falls.
  • Post exit route maps at regular intervals throughout your facilities and place emergency numbers near all telephones.
  • Stained glass windows are recommended to be covered with a shatterproof material to prevent damage.
  • Look for and avoid areas that may develop into “hidden pockets” where supervised activity is limited or non-existent.

It is our desire that as you build, your church will grow, gain in momentum, and find great joy in what God helped you accomplish.