By Rodney James
How much does a piece of land really cost?
So, you’re ready to relocate your church or start a new campus. Where do you begin?
Everyone knows that location, location, location is the most important thing when purchasing real estate. But, for a church wanting to build new facilities on that land, it’s not the only thing!
We often encounter churches who “got a great deal” on a piece of property several years ago, and now they’re ready to build. My first thought is, Wonder why they got such a great deal? Now, I won’t deny God is in the favor business when it comes to His church and His Kingdom; often, however, the answer to my question is not so spiritual.
To accurately evaluate what the real cost of a certain piece of land really is, one must do the proper amount of homework before you sign the contract to purchase. Homework that focuses on determining the real cost beyond the dirt.
The real cost of land
The real cost of land is the total cost required prior to beginning construction of buildings or facilities. This is often referred to as the development cost — the cost to develop a piece of land so that everything is in place to allow buildings to be constructed.
Let’s break down some of the major items that should be considered prior to purchasing a piece of property.
Utilities — specifically, water. Most all church facilities are required by code to have a fire sprinkler system installed. This normally requires a 6-inch main water line with sufficient flow rate to provide the volume of water needed for fire suppression. If the main line doesn’t have sufficient flow, or if it’s a significant distance from the property, it could add between $100,000 and $250,000 to provide sufficient water for fire protection.
Other utilities. Natural gas and electric are the next most-costly items if not already adjacent to or on the land being considered.
Sewer lines are often the most difficult to access if they’re not on the property; but, to offset the cost of bringing sewer to the land, a septic system could be considered as an option.
After locating the connecting points for all utilities, other questions should be considered. (How will we manage storm water runoff? Will we have to dig a pond? How large will it have to be? Do we have enough acreage for this requirement?)
Department of Transportation requirements can be a costly consideration. Will you be required to add an acceleration lane, a turn lane, or deceleration lane for the entrances to the land? If so, will you have to relocate utilities in the right-of-way to meet this requirement? Relocating utilities can be very costly, if required.
Final considerations: easements, waterways, wetlands, flood plains, condition of soils, elevations, and other items that need to be evaluated.
Bottom line: Once all these determinations have been made, and real construction costs are provided for making the required improvements — then, you have the real cost of the land.
Need some help?
Every church should consider engaging a firm that specializes in church design and construction that can answer these questions and provide real construction costs for development prior to signing on the dotted line for a piece of property.
At Churches by Daniels, we have developed a very economical process where we assist churches with identifying any potential obstacles or hurdles when considering a new piece of land or a building to renovate for ministry purpose. It is designed to provide all these costs so you know what the real cost of your purchase will be.
We believe in taking the right steps in the right order to prevent great heartache and disappointment as you move forward into the building design and construction phases.
Rodney James served as executive pastor, then senior pastor, at Sequoyah Hills Baptist Church in Tulsa, OK, for 20 years. In that time, he led and completed multiple building and renovation projects. In 2012, James joined Churches by Daniels, Inc., in Broken Arrow, OK, as Director of Business and Finance. He is now a Business Partner and Vice President of Business and Design.
The company specializes in designing and building churches nationwide.