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Planning a Church Building Project: What to Request from the Pros

Church Loans

Good planning for a church building project starts with defining your needs and goals and results in a clearly defined project scope within an affordable budget. To achieve this, most churches need to bring in the professionals sooner rather than later. Here’s how to best utilize architects, contractors, and lenders early in the planning process.

Architects and Professional Designers

What to request: Preliminary design

A preliminary design will help you establish project parameters. Although this won’t give you firm pricing for a project, it is usually enough to determine a cost range. But be careful not to let an architect’s design be the driving force. Instead, let ministry need and your church’s vision drive the project.

Contractors and Design-Build Firms

What to request: Initial project identification and estimation

Many firms will help define and estimate a project without up-front costs in exchange for an opportunity to be your builder. However, you should never enter into a long-term contract before the project is defined.


What to request: Underwriting standards and requirements

Your initial call should help you understand a lender’s underwriting standards as well as identify the documentation you’ll need to provide to determine initial loan qualification. Keep in mind, a good lender will not simply talk about how much you can borrow, but rather, how much you should borrow. Most lenders expect:

  • Financials – Three years of financial statements plus a current year-to-date financial statement
  • Appraisal or Broker’s Opinion of Value – Current market value of your property

In addition to these three areas of support, you may also want to talk to a church construction consultant. Experienced in helping ministries define project scopes, stay on budget, and avoid pitfalls, a church construction consultant can even save you tens of thousands of dollars. For more information, call 800.449.5626 or email

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