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Control Rising Construction Costs

Control Rising Construction Costs

In today's volatile economic world where the news and emotions can swing from one extreme to the other on an hourly basis, there is one thing you can count onprices will continue to go up.

In fact, in the month or so it takes to price a project, lock down suppliers and subcontractors, obtain building committee approval and sign the contract, prices often increase making the process much more complicated. And we're not just talking about a few dollars here and there.

Consider, for example, the following:

  Steel prices have increased 70% due to the rising cost of scrap steel, which makes up more than half the price fabricators pay for raw steel. As a result, steel beams and columns, metal buildings, even steel flooring and roofing have seen significant price increases. In fact, if current trends continue, by the end of the year, steel prices will have increased 100% over the past 12 months.

  The price of cement is experiencing similar increases and continues to squeeze budgets.

  The dramatic rise in the price of diesel fuel over the past year means that delivery charges have doubled and those increases, of course, are passed on to the end user.

As has been pointed out in other articles, a worship facility that cost $140 per square foot a year ago now costs approximately $175 per square foot. That's an increase of 25% in one year and it means that a 30,000-square-foot building now costs at least $1 million more today than it did last year.

So what's a building committee to do? How do you create a place of worship that meets the spiritual and physical needs of your congregation, yet doesn't wipe you out financially?

The most obvious answer, and the one most building committees turn to, is to eliminate space beginning with areas like storage, classrooms and breakout rooms. Of course, these are among the least expensive areas to build, so the savings vs. the lost space often isn't a balanced tradeoff. And even without eliminating those spaces, you never hear a church say they have all the storage or classroom space they need.

That still leaves the worship space, as well as key elements such as kitchens and restrooms, which are also the most expensive to build.

A better answer is to begin taking a more creative approach to the project.

From the very start of the design process you should be looking for creative ways to save costs while still staying true to the goals of your project. Companies experienced in the field of worship and educational facilities such as those affiliated with the National Association of Church Design Builders (NACDB) are at the forefront of the latest trends and techniques in this area and can serve as a valuable resource.

For example, some of the solutions that NACDB members have helped building committees develop include:

  Building wood structures with load-bearing metal stud walls and trusses or concrete structures, saving $10 or more per square foot over original estimates.

  Using sealed and stained concrete floors or painting exposed structures to save money and create a more stylish look.

  Seeking out the many new energy cost-reducing construction techniques, beginning with internet-based energy management systems that control HVAC systems such as that provided by In 2 Networks and XCI Corporation and guarantee they run at peak efficiency. In addition, materials such as insulated concrete-framed walls and Urethane spray-on insulations in the roof can reduce heating and cooling costs by 10 percent or more.

No one can keep costs from going up, but a combination of creative thinking and an experienced partner can ensure you and your building committee have the best opportunity to deliver the type facility you want and your congregation deserves even in today’s economic environment.

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