There are a lot of factors that affect the cost of building a church, and it only begins with the materials. When creating your budget, you’ll want to map out an overall budget, as well as individual budgets for different steps in the building process. The cost of building a church can be broken down into two main factors – churches built from steel and churches built from brick. And the budget will change from church to church, depending on so many factors including size.
On average, the budget for steel materials is around $10 per square foot, while the budget for brick materials is around $75 per square foot. Read on to learn more about costs in detail, including factors that affect costs, such as square footage, internal constructions, furnishings, style, and how much of the budget is contributed through community donations.
- Differences in Cost Between Building Materials
- Cost of Laying Down the Foundation
- Construction/Installation Costs
- Factors That Affect the Costs of Building a Church
- Ways to Budget and Save Money on Costs
Differences in Cost Between Building Materials
Depending on whether you build a steel church or a brick church, you will incur different costs for material and construction. Take a look at the costs for each material and how they will add up.
Steel Building Costs
You may choose to purchase a steel building kit for your steel church construction. This option tends to be more cost-efficient and makes sense if you know exactly how big you want the layout to be.
Costs for steel church building kits range from $5 – $15 per square foot. Note that these costs may vary if you choose not to get a prefabricated steel building kit. Additionally, the greater the square footage of steel that you buy, the lower the price per unit will be.
Brick Building Costs
Building a brick church is going to be ultimately more expensive than steel, mainly because even affordable brick materials are pricey.
The average cost of a brick is between $70 – $80 per square foot (construction and labor costs included), although cheaper materials could be around $25 per square foot. On top of this expense, you also have to factor in the cost of scaffolding with brick construction, which can cost around $100 per square foot, minimum (labor costs included).
Cost of Laying Down the Foundation
In order to erect the church building, you first need to have level ground and a concrete slab to work as the foundation. Consider the following average costs of laying down a concrete slab.
The Average cost of concrete pouring, per square foot, is between $4 – $8.
In most cases, you’ll be paying for poured concrete by square foot. However, you can expect these prices to fluctuate based on how thick the concrete slab is and whether or not accidents happen (even skilled construction crews can spill, and you might incur the costs.) A six inch slab will be more expensive to pour than a four-inch slab.
While some costs may fluctuate, note that this average cost factors in the cost of pouring (labor).
Concrete pouring (for the foundation) requires some extra labor costs, aside from what we previously mentioned. Whether or not the pour has an epoxy finish sealer, wire mesh, or differences in the type and grade of the concrete, will all affect the cost of pouring.
On top of that, you will likely need to hire labor to install utilities, install doors and windows, finish floors, add drywall, and more. Check out some of the common average costs of hired work, including materials and labor:
- Hardwood floor installation – $6 – $12 per square foot
- Carpeted floor installation – $3.50 – $11 per square foot
- Drywall installation – $1 – $3 per square foot
- Window installation – windows cost around $300 – $1,200 dollars each with an average $40 per hour for labor/installation
- Door installation – doors can cost between $40 – $6,000 on average, depending on the material they’re made from with labor costing a minimum of $40 to $90 per hour
- Electricity installation – cost of wiring is between $1.56 – $3.75 per square foot with the average cost of electrician labor between $40 – $99
- Plumbing installation – $600 to $1,600 per new plumbing fixture plus roughly $4.50 per square foot for large plumbing projects
Factors That Affect the Costs of Building a Church
Consider the Durability of Your Materials
The more durable your materials are, the more likely they are to last longer. This usually means you incur less maintenance costs. And before you say that more durable materials are more expensive, consider the fact that steel is less expensive than brick and more durable.
Here are some ways that steel is a great and affordable choice for durability:
- Resistance to extreme weather (snow, earthquakes, wind, etc.)
- Resistance to fire
- Results in lower insurance costs because a fire-safe building looks good to insurance companies
Consider the Maintenance Required for Steel vs. Brick Materials
This point has a lot to do with the durability factor of your materials. But it can’t go without saying. Materials that require a lot of maintenance and upkeep (a.k.a.: materials that aren’t designed to last very long) are going to quickly eat into your budget.
We know that brick is more expensive than steel. And since it’s less durable, too, you may want to keep in mind that if you go the brick route, you’re going to be doing regular upkeep for years to come.
For example, as beautiful as a brick facade may look in comparison to steel, brick is way more prone to mold and mildew accumulation than metal is. Mold problems are extremely costly to get rid of and prevent. On the other hand, a steel church will stand the test of time.
Did you know that traditional church styles take more time to make than steel/modern ones? This factor may affect your costs if you have to spend extra time to build a brick church and keep hired construction workers on for longer. Many laborers get paid by the hour or day, rather than the project, so time is definitely money in this case.
Additionally, steel/modern buildings can be more energy-efficient, which means you can save money in that department, too.
Do you plan to add on elements to the building or its exterior? Since a church is a place that many people will frequent and get to by car, you may consider adding on a paved lot for parking, laying down a concrete walkway or porch, adding landscaping, and other elements.
Landscaping costs are likely since most churches are built with an emphasis on their overall appearance. Adding in mulch planters for greenery and flowers, seeding grass, and other landscaping efforts are all likely costs you will incur. Additionally, it’s likely that you’ll need a paved sidewalk and ramp of some kind to accommodate handicapped members of the congregation.
Consider average costs for these common church add-ons:
|Paved Parking Lot||Between $2.50 - $7 per square foot (materials and labor)|
|Concrete Walkway||Between $6 - $12 per square foot|
|Ramp||Between $1,285 - $1,841 (professionally built handicap ramp)|
|Landscaping||$200 per hour (for brand new landscaping) or $4 - $12 per square foot of work after installation|
|Concrete Porch or Patio||Between $3 - $15 per square foot, depending on customization|
Size of the Church
In some cases, the larger your building and the more stories it has will increase costs. This is especially true for the installation of plumbing and electricity. Both pipes and wiring increase in cost as space they travel through increases. Additionally, the larger the building, the more you’ll have to pay for interior work like drywall, windows, doors, flooring, stairs, and more.
On the other hand, some things actually decrease in cost when you need to buy more of them. For example, buying steel in bulk actually decreases the cost of the steel per unit.
There are several permits and insurance cost factors to consider, including the cost of building inspections ($200 – $3,000 depending on size), building permits ($500 – $2,000), liability insurance (average price for a small church policy is $37 – $59 per month based on services, where you live, and other factors), and more. Note that certain costs like liability insurance may increase for different types of liability, such as fire insurance.
Location (Buying Land)
Part of your budget will be determined by factors out of your control, such as the cost of land in your region or city. If you don’t already have a lot to build your church on and need to buy a piece of property, you have to adjust your budget accordingly. Land in urban areas is typically more expensive than rural land.
Consider the national average costs of land per acre throughout various regions in the United States. (Figures are based on the USDA 2020 Land Value Summary for rural/farmland.)
|Region||Cost of Land (per acre)|
On the other hand, consider these average costs of urban land in different US major cities. It is less common to buy land in urban areas to build churches on but still possible. These figures are based on a 2017 Bloomberg Report.
|U.S. City||Cost of Land Per Acre|
|Washington, D.C.||$1.2 million|
|San Francisco, CA||$3.2 million|
|Miami, FL||$1.7 million|
|Jersey City, NJ||$3.3 million|
|New York City, NY||$5.2 million|
|Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA||$2.6 million|
Ways to Budget and Save Money on Costs
There are many effective ways to cut back on your overall budget when building a church. Namely, consider the ways that your congregation can pitch, as well as ways that you can make smarter building choices to save you money down the line.
Cut Back on the Number of Rooms/Facilities
Fewer rooms means less overall internal construction costs. While most churches need certain rooms and facilities for different purposes, see if there are ways you can cut back on spaces like closets that will rack up extra construction costs.
Additionally, you can cut costs within your facility by choosing more energy-efficient options for central heat and AC, appliances (if you have them in a church kitchen), as well as lighting.
One big way that you can cut costs when building a church is through volunteer work. This is a unique option that isn’t available for all types of buildings. Churches, specifically, are centers of volunteership, and you have one big tool available to you by way of your congregation.
Members of your church congregation may be willing to provide manual labor for free to help speed up the job and save you money on construction costs. Of course, it has to be labor that they don’t need to be licensed for, like painting walls, moving furniture, landscaping, leaning, design and artistic work, and more.
Realistically, this option could save you quite a bit of money depending on how large your congregation is and how much of a sense of community your church fosters.
Branching off of the previous budgeting point, have you considered accepting donations in the form of funds and essential needs from your congregation? While some members of the congregation may be able-bodied and willing to work, others might be better suited to help by raising money or donating furniture, paint, landscaping supplies, building materials, and more.
While the cost of building a church is relative to the size, location, interior work, materials, stylistic choices, and so much more, you can get a starting idea of what you’ll pay for materials by comparing the cost of brick and steel.
Overall, steel seems like the most cost-efficient and durable choice, owing to its resistance to most elements and the ability to buy it in bulk for cheaper. However, so much affects how much your church will cost, so make sure to consider all of the cost factors we discussed today.