A Great Construction Committee

 

As churches seek to expand their facilities to meet worship and ministry needs, the assembly of a capable building construction committee to effectively guide planning and construction activities is of paramount importance.

 

When selecting your committee members, give careful consideration to the following:

 

Direction: Look for members that can embrace the pastor's project vision and translate it into thoughtful, prayerful and timely project direction. The phrase, "Time is money" is never more true than in any construction project.  Good stewardship will require that the Building Committee be committed to providing the direction and decision making necessary to keep the project moving.

 

Size: A small committee of three to four members is optimal. To be effective, the committee must be able to routinely review issues and make informed decisions in a timely manner. Avoid the temptation to assemble a large committee in an effort to achieve "buy-in" or create a consensus within the congregation. Also, be judicious in the creation of additional sub-committees for items like interior finishes or technology systems. Let your building committee make the building related decisions. Instead, focus additional committees on separable tasks such as fundraising, grand opening preparations and the development and implementation of ministry programs for the new space.

 

Available time: Be sure that your committee members have schedules that allow them the flexibility to devote proper attention to your project. In any project, timely decisions will be required. In that light, carefully consider whether your pastor should be a committee member. While it is critical that the committee upholds the pastor's vision for the project and keeps him informed, weekly committee meetings are probably not the best use of his time. Instead, let him act as project spokesman for the congregation to keep them excited about the project.

 

It is also important to arm your committee with the right information, direction and priorities. Be sure that members understand and support the following:

 

Master Plan: In addition to the project vision, be sure that your committee has an understanding of the pastor's long-range vision for future growth and ministry. It is so important to look ahead to identify "next steps" and future priorities. Communicate those concepts to your project professionals and allow your design/build contractor to vest some thought in developing or updating your master plan. This time spent wisely will pay huge dividends in ultimate campus usability and flexibility.

 

Budget: Set forth a realistic project schedule. Confirm the viability of that schedule with your design/build contractor. Remember that pushing too hard on an unrealistic schedule can be just as expensive as allowing the project to drag out. Allow your design/build contractor to provide input and guidance on those important finish items - startup and acceptance testing, installation of furniture, and other owner furnished equipment, signage and graphics, and general move-in.

 

Remember that the design/build contractor that you choose should have a qualified project manager on this team. It takes a tremendous amount of planning, coordination and plain old paperwork to build a job. Your staff already has full time jobs. Your building committee is intended to provide guidance and direction, not day-to-day management and supervision.  A design/build contractor acts as the communication focal point for the project and points out to the owner the pros and cons of each phase of the project. An experienced design/build contractor guides not only the project, but also advises the owner on the decision process as well, insuring an orderly, predictable and cost-effective construction project. Because of the complex design and code issues relating to church educational and multifunctional assembly places, specific public/private school experience is an important attribute.

 

Also remember that when selecting your design/build contractor, larger is probably better. Avoid the temptation to select a smaller firm anticipating more personalized service or cheaper fees. Construction is a complicated and complex undertaking. Select solid, full-service firms with depth and experience. They will easily offset any fee differentially by providing proper guidance and expert advice for your project.