Churches Should Avoid These Mistakes When Selecting a Construction Firm
If a church is ready to build a new worship, fellowship or recreational space, it’s an exciting time. However, starting the process can be overwhelming. Church leaders, building teams and congregations have often invested a lot of time and money to secure funding, discuss goals and consider the overall logistics of the project.
Since each church has unique requirements and approval processes, it’s extremely important to have the right commercial construction firm handling the day-to-day needs of the facility’s construction. Construction companies and general contractors all have their own way of managing a project, so the process of selecting the best fit for your building’s architecture and construction can be unclear.
Here is a list of what NOT to do when hiring a commercial construction firm.
Mistake #1 – Ignore referrals from other churches that have been through the process
Referrals are a quick way get up to speed on the reputation of various local construction firms. As a starting point, get in touch with other churches in the surrounding area and neighboring regions who have completed a project in the last few years and ask about their experiences. Also, reach out to family members, friends and coworkers to learn about any recommendations or pitfalls they’ve experienced. This is the best and immediate way to discover a quality commercial builder.
Mistake #2 – Treat all church design and construction proposals the same
Once you collect proposals, it’s essential to never treat them the same way. Take the time to understand the difference between each proposal because it could make a world of difference in your project cost and duration. Building materials, unit costs, responsibilities, markup, schedule are among some of the many factors listed in the proposal from architects and general contractors that you should take into careful consideration.
For instance, here is one vital distinction: some project cost projections are fixed, while others are estimates. Estimates without a cap or maximum price could end up costing you a lot more if overlooked. In the proposal, the firm should highlight its experience working on other religious projects similar to yours. Furthermore, check the proposal for an outline of the firm’s scope of responsibility and range of capabilities; companies that are responsible for delivering on all aspects of your project’s architectural design, engineering and construction can be extremely valuable.
Mistake #3 – Always choose the lowest price when selecting a commercial construction firm
Project cost is at the top of the priority list for a lot of people; however, it should never be the sole deciding factor when choosing a commercial construction company. Choosing a firm based only on price can lead to expensive problems and repairs during or even after construction if the work is not done correctly. Don’t skip the fine print. The lowest price offer will sometimes ignore critical steps, which will only be added in later. Change orders can be big business, so ask in-depth questions to figure out how costs might add up. A firm with a slightly higher price may deliver the quality construction you are looking for, while saving you money in the long-run. Look for construction companies that have a solid track record since they are most likely to offer fair market prices for services.
Mistake #4 – Underestimate the importance of communication between you and your builder
Communication is key. Source a commercial architect and construction team that will be open and honest. You don’t want to hire a group who will be difficult to track down when you need them. During the interview process, set your expectations because you’ll be spending a lot of time working together. It’s best to be on the same page with the company you select, and any well-run firm will always have a plan for proper communication.
Mistake #5 – Skip reference checks for the architect/construction firm you are considering
Do not hesitate to ask for references and portfolios from construction firms or architects you are considering. A quality firm will be able to provide a list of former clients, and you’ll be able to follow up on the way they conduct business. Here are some important questions to ask when speaking to references:
- Did the construction company address all your needs?
- Was the church completed on time and within budget?
- Did the company communicate clearly during the project?
- What was your favorite aspect of working with them?
- Would you recommend this firm? If not, why?
Mistake #6 – Dismiss the safety record of your general contractor
Never neglect safety. Ask the prospective builder about its safety record because a quality company will put safety as a primary concern. If a general contractor gets uncomfortable about these types of questions, there are likely some red flags ahead. Ask these questions when inquiring about the company’s safely record:
- Do you have specific references that can back up your safety claims?
- What are your injury prevention guidelines?
- Can you provide documentation of your safety record?
- Do you consistently meet worksite safety standards?
- What are your insurance coverages?
- How will you ensure safety on our job site?
Mistake #7 – Discount direct experience in church architecture and construction
Experience is a crucial factor when choosing a commercial construction company to build your religious facility. Many companies that successfully manage large commercial projects from the initial design to construction completion have years of experience. Experienced builders will know how to deal with issues in the quickest, most cost-effective way, which will save time, money and headaches.
Making the best decision for your new church building project
Don’t ever rush into a contract with a commercial architect and construction company without careful due diligence. Invite them to visit the church’s building site, review their proposals carefully, and ask all the questions you need until you’re satisfied. When church leadership or the building team takes time to research and find a qualified, honest company, all of the congregation will reap the benefits and enjoy peace of mind.
Bobbitt is the Carolinas’ most experienced general contractor specializing in construction management, which means we handle the entire project – start to finish. From initial planning, site planning and architecture to pre-construction, permitting and construction, Bobbitt will be there giving you the greatest long-term return for your ministry.