Why Your Workspace Should Reflect Your Brand

Great River Federal Credit Union – Sauke Rapids

Branding is everything in today’s market. Your brand tells who you are and what you represent, or stand for. When most people think of branding they think of a logo, a website, and a signature color. It goes well beyond all of those elements. Your brand should pour through every detail of your building because your workplace is an expression of that brand.

Architects to the Rescue

Architects and designers play an integral role in helping businesses do just that. Most people don’t often think about how each design element can firmly reinforce that brand meaning, that’s what we are here for. We take the time to get to know you and your goals, mission, and values, and that will guide each decision we make. Armed with the proper knowledge of what makes you tick, as well as the desired user experience, we can move forward carefully and thoughtfully selecting each detail. With this attention to detail, people walking into that space can feel what you stand for.

Make a Statement with Finishes 

Chosen colors, materials, fabrics, furniture, finishes, lighting, and layouts make an impression on everyone who walks through the doors. Guests, clients, and especially your employees, will take in the ambiance and experience the function of the space. By giving the people hard at work for you a place that feels good to be in, you get the added bonus of a boost in workplace morale and also to the overall company culture.

Architecture and interior design work hand-in-hand to reinforce where your company places its worth. Fortunately, at Vanman, we are not only the architects and builders but also the interior designers! With the coordination between your in-house marketing and existing signage and graphics companies, we ensure that the finished product exudes the brand/companies personality!

Contact us today to learn about how we can come alongside you on your next project!

The New New Normal

To put it simply, the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the way we work. We already knew this. We’ve all been living in the “new normal” for well over a year now. It’s time again for another “new normal” and that is getting ourselves and our employees back into the office. Work from home brought with it many freedoms but also many losses. The question now is how can you satisfy your employees who are eager to come back, craving face-to-face time but also those that found their groove working from home and grew to love their newfound flexibility? Enter the hybrid approach. We already know that working from home works and it works well. But it’s time to get our people back together, so let’s do both. 

Ups and Downs of WFH

Covid-19 was declared a global health crisis and many companies had to rise to the occasion, quickly rethink and completely overhaul their way of working. With the safety of employees being the top priority, for many, this meant going completely remote. In turn, the percentage of employees who worked from home over the last year skyrocketed.  

As the world adopted new ways of working, technology became key and zoom calls took the place of, well everything. Although this was an adjustment for many, people quickly found that being completely remote came with several unexpected silver linings: no commute, rise in productivity, dog walks throughout the day, lunch while you work, and more. 

So while some of the workforce were finding more time at home to be a good thing, there were plenty who were burnt out and feeling lonely. The casual morning chats over coffee and the water cooler conversations seemingly vanished overnight. Employees craved human interaction, company culture, and a clear divide between home life and work life. 

Out with cubicles, in with the clubhouse

So we know there are two types of workers we need to plan for, remote and in-person. Time to get creative. Bottom line – we need to create a place that people WANT to be. When we think of somewhere we want to work we picture a “clubhouse”. Think dedicated space for different working styles, mixtures of soft seating and hard office seating, and open floor plans. In our “clubhouse”, there will be space that is conducive to the collaboration of people in the office and people working remotely, thoughtful spacing of furniture and workstations, and of course cleanliness. The creation of this type of work environment will help retain employees and draw in new talent.

The challenge of reopening your workplace does not come with a one size fits all solution. There is a lot to think about when beginning this journey. Lucky for you, our expert team of interior designers and architects are here to help you determine the best layout to drive productivity, collaboration, and safety for your employees.

The Importance of Knowing Your Client

Spirit of Grace Church, Coon Rapids, MN

So you’re ready to get started on the project you’ve been dreaming about for years? That’s great! We can’t wait to work with you! But before we get started, we want to know about you so that we can make the process of creating your building go as smoothly as possible. 

Why is getting to know you so important to us? Just like any other company who works to serve a variety of clients, we want to bring our very best to the table when it comes to helping you create the space you’ve been dreaming about. While there are a few obvious reasons we want to get to know you (such as the fact that we’ll be working right alongside you!), there are a few other reasons why we believe it’s important to get to know our clients above and beyond their basic needs.

Your space needs to be truly yours. Whether you’re looking to renovate a church or a credit union, you know that you aren’t the only church or credit union out there. While you may not refer to others as “competitors,” you know that you need to stand apart to make yourself known so that you won’t be confused with anyone else. This is one reason why it’s important that we get to know you. Apart from providing you with the necessities, we want to learn your brand and your story so that we can reflect that in your space through its details and design.

It’s also important that we know our clients because we want to understand how you work and communicate. While we strive to be efficient with our timelines, we also realize that every project is unique, and sometimes, unexpected issues arise. By getting to know you, we can get a feel for your work and communication style which can help prevent any misunderstandings and miscommunication. 

At Vanman Architects and Builders, we actively participate in getting to know our clients through listening and collaborating. We ask our clients questions such as “what is on your wishlist?” to get them dreaming about what they truly want incorporated into their space. From defining current and future goals to establishing a budget that we stick to, we are your partner and advocate from start to finish. We put time and effort into getting to know both you and your project. Are you ready to see your dream space become a reality? Contact us today to learn about how we can come alongside you and work with you to see your building come to life! 

Build New or Add On?

River Valley Church, Apple Valley, MN

Many congregations face the question of moving or staying. Moving can be emotional and disruptive, yet staying may leave the congregation with no way for change or growth of the ministry. 

An Architectural Feasibility Study can layout the options of cost, program, and building design. A Facility Feasibility Study, while helpful in determining the building and program options, will not answer the question of a vision for the church. The Church leadership will need to determine the essential question of “what is God’s plan for this church?”

Here are a few things to consider when you are trying to determine to build new or add on:

1. Existing Site

Is your existing space large enough? Is the location suitable? Is adjacent land available? What is the resale value? What are the demographic considerations?

2. Existing Facility 

What is the condition of the existing facility? What is the cost of upgrading the facility? Is the existing facility ministry friendly? Or can it be made ministry friendly? Is the building accessible? Or can it be made accessible? Is the building energy efficient and environmentally safe?

3. Ministry Goals 

What is the vision for the program and ministry? Can the existing facility serve the ministry? Where is the mission field of the church?

4. Intangible Factors 

Can the congregation break with the past? Does the congregation have motivation to move? 

A new building initially can be shaped to serve the ministry. As the facility ages, the building begins to shape the ministry. A building is only a tool for a greater work to be done in the lives of people. 

Vanman Architects and Builders can walk you through this process. Reach out to us today, let’s start a conversation!

Form and Functionality: Why They Matter

Great River Federal Credit Union, Sauk Rapids, MN

“Form follows function – that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union.” – Frank Lloyd Wright

Form and function are two important elements when it comes to building and designing a space. Often times, we think that function should come first. Functionality, after all, is referring to a building’s practicality and the ways that it serves the purpose of the space. Form, on the other hand, refers to its design and aesthetic elements.

As Frank Lloyd Wright stated, we at Vanman believe these two things should coexist without sacrificing one for the other. We don’t want one of these to simply be an afterthought. Even though the practicality of a space may seem like the more important of the two at first glance, form is what can truly help or hurt a space. Have you ever been inside of a building that’s completely practical for its purpose but leaves you with no lasting impression emotionally? Or worse, leaves you with a negative impression? 

Your building should leave a positive impression on those who enter its doors. It needs to not only work from a practical standpoint, but it should also reflect the feel of your business or ministry and the services you’re providing. It also needs to be uniquely yours so that it stands apart from the rest. At Vanman, this is something that’s important to us and something we prioritize with our projects. We recognize that everyone’s style and preference is unique, so we want to take the time to get to know you so that we can know how to best reflect your company in the design of your space. 

Let us help you create a space that serves both you and your customers without skimping on the aesthetics. Reach out to us today to learn more about the ways we can work together with you to transform your space into something you love!

Reach out to us on LinkedIn to learn more!

Code Issues and Other Things to Know Before Building

Meadow Spring Church, Chaska, MN

Code Issues and Other Things to Know Before Building

Are you renting a house with no railings on the staircase or working in an office that clearly had a mold problem? You may be in a building that’s not up to code. There are plenty of ways that a building could potentially violate safety codes, some may be more obvious than others. The last thing you want is for your building to be a hazard to those who use it. Below we outline how to keep you on track for an up to code building.

3 things to keep in mind when renovating or constructing your new building:

1. Handicap Accessibility

You need your space to be accessible to everyone. From automatic doors and elevators to handicapped bathroom stalls and seating areas, many factors go into making your building handicap accessible. You will also need to look at exterior elements too, for example providing ramps up to any sidewalks around your building.

2. Exiting

Although it may seem like a rare occurrence, there is the potential need to evacuate a building due to an emergency. It’s important to consider this as you plan the layout. A few things to take into account when planning include: rooms that occupy more than 50 people will require two exits, such as any room that is on a ground level or basement. Exits also cannot go through kitchens, storage rooms, or mechanical rooms.

3. Other Code Issues

There are a variety of other coding violations that can add to your cost if you’re not being careful to consider them. Some examples of these might include:

  • Hazardous material testing and removal
  • Stormwater management
  • Licensed operations on the property
  • Commercial kitchens
  • Energy code requirements
  • Fire sprinkler systems

When you work with Vanman Architects and Builders, we can assure you that we will help you through every step of the process ensuring everything about your space is up to code. In doing this we can assure that you will avoid any issues after the project is complete and feel confident when the space is being used. It is our goal for your space to be safe, accessible, and welcoming for all who will be coming through your doors!

Reach out to us on Linkedin to learn more!

5 Reasons Why Construction Projects Fail

It’s common knowledge that construction and remodeling projects often take a significant amount of time, money, and resources in order to complete. But why is it that so many have the tendency to fail? In this blog post, we will explore the common reasons behind project failures while at the same time offering up some of the necessary tips and tricks you need in order to make sure your project gets completed exactly to your liking. 


Underestimating a project’s scope and budget requirements are two of the most common reasons why construction projects end up getting delayed, amended or axed altogether. With changing market conditions, miscalculations, and specification errors in the mix, it can certainly be overwhelming trying to keep up with the dynamics of the planning and construction process. However, with the right project management strategies in place, you can make sure to always stay within your budgets and deadlines. 

But what is considered the “right” project management strategy?

Thorough and dedicated project management is key to the success of your construction project. Having a team of eyes constantly double and triple-checking for errors and cost overruns is one of the most needed and valued parts of your project’s timeline. Have a detailed checklist and project plan in place so that, before placing any orders, you are absolutely sure no prices have fluctuated and that nothing goes overlooked. By doing so, you will have plenty of time to catch cost raises and either inform the owners of these changes or adjust the pricing in order to stay within budget.


When starting a construction or remodeling project, it is essential that you do your due diligence at the preliminary stages of the project before diving in with a contractor. If not, you can run into something called “scope creep”, which refers to the process in which the workload increases beyond the original agreement. Some common causes for this to occur include:

Client requests that don’t reflect the amount of work that was originally agreed upon.

Poor communication at the infant stages of the construction or remodeling project. 

Unclear specifications or ambiguity within the written agreement shared between client and contractor.

Ultimately, the number one goal of any project is the client’s satisfaction, however, this can become a bit tricky if the scope of the project is not thoroughly defined and discussed between the two parties involved. Planning in a dynamic manner and getting accurate information upfront will allow for the process to run far more smoothly while providing clear objectives to both parties about what needs to be accomplished. Oftentimes, terminology and agreements between contractor and client can be misconstrued or difficult to understand, so making sure that everything is written in a way that can be understood by both parties is the quickest and most effective way to avoid scope creep in your construction or remodeling project. 


Delays are a common, yet costly, occurrence in many building projects. With government approvals, permit delays, and site regulations being able to slow down the timeline of your project, it’s no question why delays are often seen as the kryptonite to successful, on-time completions. 

But how can you go about avoiding them?

Depending on where you are placed on the map, it may be necessary for you to consider union requirements and area-specific building codes before beginning your construction or remodeling project. On top of this, making sure that the right licenses are held and that thorough site surveys and investigations take place beforehand is an essential part of the planning process and will save you time and expenses during the subsequent stages of your project.


Sure, some things simply can’t be avoided. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a plan in place for when things go awry. Unforeseen conditions such as natural disasters, structural or design issues, mold, asbestos, etc. are just a few of the problems that can run up costs and/or delay your construction or remodeling project. And because you can’t necessarily control or anticipate these situations entirely, it is essential that you have a plan in place beforehand so that both parties are on the same page when issues do arise. 

Some ways that can help you prepare for the unknown are by having proper insurance in place to minimize damage costs, and by hiring an experienced contractor who can predict and identify the common signs associated with these problems. You should work with your contractor to set up a pricing plan so that when disasters strike, you will have a safety net in place that accounts for unforeseen costs. 


Communication is everything when it comes to successfully completing a construction or remodeling project on time and within budget. It can truly make or break your project. Without a chain of command in place to make sure that each party is getting the right information at the right time on designs, plans, schedules, etc., more often than not, costly issues and delays in the project can present themselves.

That said, it is critical to the success of your construction or remodeling project to communicate any changes, problems, or requests that may come up during the planning and construction process. By establishing a chain of command, every player is held accountable for their duties, which in turn, keeps everyone on the same page and allows for clear and concise communication throughout the entire duration of the project. 


With a 98.8% completion rate on all of our bank, school, and church construction projects, we work to avoid the main issues that cause construction projects to stray from both the timeline and the budget.

Ultimately, doing your research and figuring out why construction projects fail in the first place is a great way to avoid project mishaps and failures. This means you’re already setting the groundwork for a successful construction project for your community, company or congregation.

If your next step is to find a full-service architecture firm you can trust, contact our team today! We’d love to see how we can meet the unique needs and goals of your project.

Church Fundraising 101

Beginning a church construction or remodeling project can be daunting.  For smaller congregations, it can feel almost impossible.  With time, money, and resources at stake, it’s certainly not uncommon to feel a little discouraged when considering a new project.

Where do you start? How do you pay for it? 

While even the thought of answering these questions may cause your blood pressure to rise, knowing where and how to take your first steps can make all the difference.

Like any architectural project, your church construction or remodeling project is probably going to cost a pretty penny.  Particularly for smaller congregations, this is one of the biggest hurdles to leap when thinking about starting a new project.  Fear not, however, because by the end of this blog post you’ll have everything you need to get a fundraising campaign up and running.

So, where to begin?


Getting your community involved is one of the best places to start as it allows them to have a sense of ownership and accountability for their worship space.  Ultimately, your story holds power.  Probably more power than you think!  It’s simply a matter of telling it to all the ears that are willing to listen.  

That said – if you haven’t already – getting acquainted with various social media platforms (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) can help expand your presence among the community you serve.

The more you share your story across different social channels, the more likely you are to develop a personal connection with all of those around you.  By doing so, you are able to show that your church is more than just a gathering place for worship, rather a source of hope and safety for all those who seek its shelter.  

Once you have established your story within your community and shown them what you’re all about, it’s then time to reach out to your loyal members and ask them (nicely) to support your upcoming church construction or remodeling project. 


Now that you’ve made yourself a name on your social media platforms, the next checkbox on your list should be to branch out to fundraising specialists.  Doing everything alone can be intimidating, which is why a fundraising specialist such as Walsh & Associates, Kairos Christian Resource Development, and J & J Fundraising can help you stay on track toward reaching your end goal.

Depending on which specialist you decide to work with, your fundraising group may help you organize events and campaigns to raise money and other kinds of donations for an organization. They may also even help with the social side of your fundraising campaign, designing promotional materials to help increase awareness for your organization’s work, goals, and financial needs.


There’s a reason why people still use traditional fundraising techniques.  Simply put, they work!  Benefit events are still one of the best ways to not only raise money for your church’s construction or remodeling project, but they also work toward bringing the community together.  Putting together a bake sale, community event, or really any sort of social function that mixes food, fun, and entertainment is an effective method for getting the support of your community.  Taking advantage of the holiday calendar by hosting themed parties or special services is also a great way to get more people excited about being a part of your congregation.

Think of it as an investment.  By engaging the community and showing them your dedication, more often than not, the word will spread – and in no time – new members will be lining up at your doors, curious to see what they’ve been missing.


Using social media to keep everyone up to date with your fundraising goals and milestones is a critical piece to keeping your community engaged and enthusiastic about your upcoming construction or remodeling project.  By showing the progress of your community’s contributions, you can generate buzz and excitement for the day your fundraising goals are achieved.  After each event, don’t be afraid to announce how much you earned, how many people attended, and how the event helped to bring your church’s construction or remodeling project one step closer to fruition.  Keep everyone in the loop by broadcasting upcoming events via social media platforms and/or newsletters.  Those that may have missed out on one event may be inspired to show their support during the next one!


If you still have any questions, or can’t quite get yourself through the door, then join us this upcoming March (3/14/2020) at our annual Building for Ministry Seminar where we partner with fundraisers and financiers in order to educate and clarify the necessary steps and processes that go into a church construction or remodeling project.  

For 22 years we have been teaming up with local businesses to deliver a fully comprehensive look into the church building process.  From design and construction to fundraising and finances, we have a team of presenters ready to tackle every inquiry!

Why Choose a Design-Build Firm?

Looking to start a new project but can’t decide whether to go with a traditional build contract or design-build firm?  In this blog, we will explore the differences between both and explain some of the advantages of going with a design-build firm over a traditional build contract.  

Communication is necessary for success. 

Architecture is not a “one and done” type of thing – it’s a fluid process – one that can require constant changes and amendments.  Whether they come from stagnant decision making during the design process or unforeseen complications during the build itself, revisions to a project are bound to happen and can be undoubtedly frustrating.

Even more frustrating is the communication piece.  With traditional build contracts, key players are constantly trying to get a hold of one another to address problems and propose solutions – this often results in a time-consuming game of “phone tag” that can end up delaying projects, or even worse, resulting in additional expenditures.  However, when you work with a design-build team, this is rarely an issue.  Everyone working on your project is on the same line of communication, which means that you get far more thorough answers in far less waiting time.

Nothing beats working together under one roof.

As the title of this section suggests, a team working together under one roof is unparalleled.  Being the most distinct advantage of a design-build firm, having every person who lays a hand on your project working cooperatively under the same roof yields the most effective and efficient delivery results.  

No more worrying about whether or not your architect and contractor are going to get along.  No more having to contact multiple parties in order to complete a simple task.  Design-build firms not only act as a one-stop shop for all your project’s needs, but they can also make the process happen a lot quicker while involving a lot fewer headaches. 

Save time… and your wallet.

With every player working in close proximity on your project, you end up saving a great deal of time on day-to-day setbacks.  For example, with a traditional build contract,  architectural plans and blueprints need to make their rounds between the design and build teams before finally getting approved.  This process can take up an excessive amount of time, which can result in project delays and unnecessary expenses.  However, at a design-build firm, this process can be done in a matter of seconds, sparing you (and your wallet) the hassle of keeping up with all the setbacks. 

On top of this, design-build is the best performing delivery system for both schedule and cost. Expediting both the bidding and scheduling processes before designs are completed not only allows for a very well controlled construction and delivery speed, but also helps to ensure that you stay within your budget due to the firm being able to control expenditures without outside interference from project managers and construction sites.

Ultimately, design-build firms continue to out-perform traditional build contracts in cost, schedule, growth measures, construction and delivery time.  If you aren’t totally convinced, give us a shout! We’d love to chat with you about your upcoming project and see how we can help turn your vision into a reality! 

Church Design and Construction: Getting The Community Involved

Before putting pen to paper on a new design and construction project for your church, it’s crucial that you make sure that your congregation is behind it.  Needless to say, without them, a church construction project would simply become nothing more than another building on the block.

Of course, selling the idea for new amendments to an already existing worship space can be difficult – even more so when proposing an entirely new facility.  That said, being able and prepared to adequately respond to your community’s concerns is an important step to every new project pitch. 

Ultimately, getting your congregation’s involvement and feedback from the beginning of the process is absolutely necessary for a seamless design and construction project. 

Here are 3 valuable tips that every church should consider before jumping into a new church design and construction project:

1. Explain the “why” before the “what”

What are the reasons behind the new design and construction project?  Is it needed? How will this affect the church services? 

Even though members of your congregation may not ask these questions directly, they’ll certainly all be curious. That said, making sure to explain the reasoning behind the need for the new project, and the benefits that these new renovations will provide for the Church is an essential piece to the “buy-in” process.  In addition, asking your congregation for input on things they would like to see and/or opportunities they see applicable to the new church construction project is a good way to gain your congregation’s interest.

If you are looking to grow your worship space, be prepared to showcase the potential increases in fellowship numbers and how this may affect your church services and community. Of course, not every single issue can be addressed, but others can be easily solved, so it’s important to have an open discussion with your community.

In the end, letting your congregation voice their opinions and give their two cents on proposed projects will allow them to take ownership of their worship space, which in effect, brings in more passion and support down the road.

2. Process, next steps, and community involvement

Once you’ve had a thorough discussion with your congregation about the preliminary plans and concerns of the new church design and construction project, it’s time to hire an experienced church architect or design-build firm.

Laying out the design and the steps of the building process from the beginning can help to ensure that your ministry’s goals, congregation’s vision, and facility’s needs are all met and accurately depicted before blueprints are drawn up.  After discussion and input from your community,  your fellowship will have a firm grasp as to what they should expect, how the new space should look, and what the project will do for the community. 

A full-service design-build firm can work with you to set ground rules right from the start. After all, peace of mind is key during the construction process as unexpected costs and delays can result in headaches and regret.

At Vanman Architects and Builders, we work side-by-side with you throughout the entire church design and construction process, which means that our team can help you propose new design plans to your congregation, help you plan ahead for construction, and work closely with you to develop a timeline that best suits your needs and wishes.

3. Nothing beats the support of your congregation

Support from the community is something every congregation needs in order to grow.  That said, making sure everyone feels involved can help expedite and strengthen the goal.

Here are a few tips and tricks our clients have utilized to boost support and excitement for their new church design and construction projects:

Gaining community involvement through social media is a great way to remain open and transparent about the progress of a current project.

Host dedications and church events that bring the community together can help generate a sense of being “all in this together”. 

Reiteration that both the congregation and the community have ownership of the worship space / multipurpose space will keep everyone on board and excited for the new renovations. 

Now that you have the backing of your community… what’s next? 

Well, now it’s time to rejoice.  With the right support and involvement from your community, your church will soon take on a newly refreshed symbol of hope, love, and fellowship.  This is something to celebrate – now all that’s left is for construction to commence and watch as you (and your community’s) vision comes to life.

For more information regarding our church design-build services, check out this page: https://www.vanmanab.com/church-design-build/