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  • HuntonBrady Architects

Worship Facilities: Build or Renovate?

What To Do When You've Outgrown Your Facility  

by Thomas Hagood, AIA

Is your congregation contemplating a new facility? Should you renovate or build new? It can be an overwhelming process without guidance. HuntonBrady Architects has over 40 years of award-winning religious design experience, including our current project with Real Life Christian Church for their growing congregation in Clermont. But we’ve also designed small chapels in hospitals, K-12 private Christian campuses, meeting amenities for global church planters, and much more.

HuntonBrady Architects Sketches Blog

We sat down recently with architect Tommy Hagood, AIA, a project manager who helps HuntonBrady’s religious clients navigate the design and construction process, to answer some common questions about this project type:

  1. How can church leaders know when it’s the right time to build? When a church worship facility is 80% full on a regular basis and there is not enough seats for Easter Sunday it is time to start thinking about growth. An architect with experience in religious projects can translate your needs into a vision for how your church can better serve its community with improved facilities. The vision starts with prayer and manifests itself in a written description of facility space requirements for future growth. This is valuable front-end analysis and helps prioritize concerns about functional efficiencies, safety and visual quality as well as social, psychological and liturgical needs of the users. We call this a building program and it results in an estimate of total square footage needed.

  2. We’ve outgrown our facilities, but we’re not sure if we should renovate or build new. What’s the best choice in today’s economy? Repurposing or expanding existing facilities could help reduce cost if you can meet the needs of your building program. If a church does not have nor expect to raise the funds for a new facility, a well-planned renovation or expansion can help meet current needs and be a first step towards church growth and a future facility.  Your property may have constraints such as parking limitations or storm water retention requirements which will not allow an expansion. In that case, reconfiguring existing facilities to be more efficient is the best solution.

  3. What is your advice for churches looking to expand? Form a building committee and contact HuntonBrady Architects. We will meet with you to explain the overall design and construction process and help you determine next steps. The recession brought very low construction costs because demand decreased. However, very few churches could ask congregants for building funds when individuals and families were suffering their own economic losses. Economic recovery means an increase in construction activity, and therefore an increase in material cost and labor. We can help you select an experienced contractor very early in the design process. They can provide real-time input on construction costs related to your vision, and work closely with us to make sure you stay within budget.


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