By Dan Walker, P.E.
Which building material lasts longest?
Which will build fastest?
For churches with hectic event calendars and limited budgets, metal buildings provide an alternate solution to expensive and time-consuming construction involving wood, stone or brick.
Metal buildings have come a long way in the last decade, offering stunning architectural treatments that help build a church’s brand and reputation. Since a church building is an extension of the church family, metal buildings are valuable because they provide the flexibility to adapt to the look, feel, attitude and direction of each specific congregation.
Here’s how it works.
- Your building committee works with an architect or design / build professional to define your building needs.
- Your architect / design-builder partners with a metal building manufacturer to refine your design.
- The manufacturer custom-engineers all primary materials for your building structure and assists with procuring all secondary items, such as windows, façade materials, etc.
- Your unique, custom manufactured materials are delivered to your building site.
- Building construction is typically complete in just a few months.
Construction can typically be completed in about 30-percent less time than traditional methods. Additionally, we have found that insurance costs are consistently lower than wood structures, and further expansion can be seamlessly performed as the congregation grows or its building needs change.
Steel roofing has a tremendous track record, with a life span of many decades, low maintenance needs, consistent-quality appearance, and a powerful ability to withstand hail, wind and snow loads. Light-colored metal roofing (a.k.a., “cool roofs”) can also help churches keep energy costs down. Darker-colored traditional roof materials — such as asphalt — build up heat in the sun. Cool metal roofing helps keep the interior cooler, which reduces the temperature in the building and leads to air-conditioning savings.
For the earth
Church communities are known for their compassion — not only for people, but also for the natural environment. Metal buildings respond to this way of thinking. Their longevity, for example, helps conserve resources. After all, the longer a building remains functional, the fewer resources are required to repair or replace it.
Moreover, metal buildings are made from recycled materials. In fact, steel is the most recycled building material available and is 100-percent recyclable. At the end of a building’s life, you can take it apart and recycle it and repurpose it for other uses.
The environmental responsibility of metal buildings extends to the way they use energy. That’s important, given that commercial buildings account for about one-quarter of the energy consumed in the United States. The metal building industry has developed time-tested methods for insulating buildings and boosting thermal efficiency so that energy savings can be significant, year after year.
What churches want
Every church community has differing needs — another reason why the flexibility of metal buildings is gaining traction. Here are some of the items a church building committee might want or need, which are all offered by metal buildings:
- Large open areas, with no walls or support columns interfering with the layout of sanctuaries, gymnasiums, dining halls, etc.
- Expandability by removing a wall and adding to the existing metal building system
- Creative options, such as sloped roofs, exterior finishes, daylighting elements, semi-circular and segmental arches, colors and textures, intriguing options for defining mass, space, proportion and symmetry
- A facility that stands the test of time (Note: Metal buildings constructed in the 1930s are still functioning well today.)
One very important consideration for any church is to carefully choose its building manufacturer. Be sure to purchase your building only from an IAS AC472-accredited manufacturer; a list can be found at www.iasonline.org or www.mbma.com. This means your building supplier’s processes have been carefully audited and monitored by an independent third party. Consequently, its engineering, ordering, designing and fabrication processes are certified to conform to high-quality standards. Additionally, the building approval process can be expedited because many building code officials can automatically deem AC472-accredited manufacturers as approved fabricators.
Plan for success
Selecting the way it wants to build is one of the most important decisions your church will make. The other steps will naturally follow from your early choices. As you begin to plan your building, consider using a design / build / fast-track approach. Through this method, your church will typically hire a design-build general contractor with an architect and engineer on staff with experience in designing and constructing this type of facility. The process is designed to enhance collaboration and bring together the considerable expertise of a professional team. It can eliminate extra steps and condense the time frame for your church.
In the end, a congregation is best served with a low-risk, high-value building solution. To this end, metal buildings offer a documented 50-plus-year performance record; are resistant to mold, mildew and termites; incorporate coated steel which enhances the building life cycle; and provide well-documented levels of fire resistance.
To learn more about using a metal building for your next church project, you can:
- EXPLORE a gallery of church projects at: www.mbma.com/project_Religious.asp
- VIEW an introductory short video about metal buildings at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=99nbe4ry2TM
- CONTACT MBMA-member manufacturing firms to locate qualified builders in your area and to view their portfolios of religious facilities: http://mbma.com/System_Members.asp