How Much Does It Cost To Build A Church? (By Size W/ Pictures)
Building a church is a daunting task between the cost of materials, labor, and construction. The average church needs to be at least 1,600 square feet assuming that there are 200 members. That can sound overwhelming on paper, but things become clear once you break down all of the costs. So, how much does it cost to build a church?
It costs an average of $120,000 to build a church once you have acquired land. Buying land costs between $1,240 and $6,110 per acre depending on your location. You will have to spend $1,400-$5,800 in excavation fees to prepare the land before you build the church. Paving a parking lot costs another $7 per square foot and landscaping costs $12 per square foot before labor.
Each subcontractor has a different labor rate which can be as little as $23 per hour and as much as $120 per hour. Luckily, you can cut costs if you rent an excavator for $400-$600 per day.
Building permits cost up to $2,000 depending on the state and municipality, and they are necessary to legally build a church. It’s also necessary to purchase liability insurance which costs between $37 and $59 per month. Follow along as we explore how much it costs to build a church so that you can budget for the project.
Differences in Cost Between Building Materials
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.
Depending on whether you build a steel church or a brick church, you will incur different costs for materials 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 the 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.
Renting an excavator costs between $400 and $600 per day or more if it’s on short notice. However, you need a commercial driver’s license to operate an excavator in some states and municipalities. Because of that, you will likely need to hire a professional to break ground and prepare the land before you build a church.
You can expect to spend between $1,400 and $5,800 on excavation depending on the size of the land if you hire a professional. This cost covers equipment fees and labor. It’s more expensive to dig deep and clear land, so your location ultimately determines how much you will spend on excavation.
It takes up to 30 people to build a medium-to-large-sized church. Granted, you can enlist plenty of volunteer work to build a church, but you will still need to employ several subcontractors to build a church. You will need to pay some laborers, such as electricians as much as $100 per hour.
It’s also important to consider that you’ll have to hire several different types of laborers. Building a church requires electricians, plumbers, concrete workers, carpenters, and landscapers. Each of these laborers typically has different pay rates, but you won’t necessarily pay them all at the same time or for the same duration.
|Type of Laborer||Hourly Pay Rate|
You can avoid navigating everyone’s pay rates if you hire a general contractor as they will take care of it. However, they will bill you based on their pay rates and the cost of materials. The pay rates are sometimes tacked onto the cost per square foot for materials, but you will often have to pay by the hour.
|Finish Type||Cost Per SQFT|
|Hardwood floor installation||$6 – $12|
|Carpeted floor installation||$3.50 – $11|
|Drywall installation||$1- $3|
|Window installation||$300 – $1,200|
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 fewer 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||$2.50-$7 SQFT|
|Concrete Walkway||$6-$12 SQFT|
|Handicap Ramp||$1,285 – $1,841|
|Landscaping||$4 – $12 SQFT|
|Concrete Porch or Patio||$3 – $15 SQFT|
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 the 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 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 (the 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.
|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 mean 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 volunteers, 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.
It costs $1,240- $6,110 per acre to buy the land to build a church. Excavation adds another $1,400-$5,800 to the cost unless you rent an excavator which costs $400-$600 per day. Permits cost between $500 and $2,000 depending on the state or county you plan to build in.
The overall average cost to build a 1,600-square-foot church is $120,00 without the cost of land and furniture.
It takes plumbers, carpenters, electricians, concrete workers, and landscapers to build a church. They each have unique hourly pay rates between $23 and $120 per hour or more in some cases. It’s worth the extra cost of $37-$59 per month for liability insurance when you build a church.