Church Construction Costs: Budget & Fee Breakdown

Inside a church entrance that has a vaulted ceiling, water fountain and flower display in the middle

As you create your church construction budget, you will need to consider multiple types of costs that will arise. From the site fees to the design fees, it is important to plan for every cost to keep your project on track.

Vanman will help you budget your project, using our own estimator’s quotes and fee schedules. This information is invaluable, as it can assure that your choices are going to work with your budget.

Fees to Consider in Your Church Construction Budget

Before diving headfirst into the fees for your project, it’s important to note church construction costs are going to vary whether you’re renovating an existing building, transforming a space into a place of worship or starting a ground-up development.

This is also going to affect your contingency fund. Whatever number your budget reaches after calculating the fees below, set aside an extra percentage for unforeseen changes and challenges that may arise.

  • New Construction: 2-4%
  • Building Addition: 5-7%
  • Renovation: 8-15%

Now let’s take a deeper look at the fees you should account for in your church construction budget.

Architectural and Engineering Fees

The first church construction costs to consider are architectural and engineering fees. Most architectural firms charge on a percentage of the construction cost. This means, as your project changes cost, your fee may change as well.

For example, a $1 million project would have a percentage of that set aside for the architectural fee (the fee is not in addition to the total project cost). Some architecture firms include engineering fees in their fees, but some will reimburse these fees to the owner. Ask your architect what engineering fees they foresee in your project and which are included in their fee and which will be reimbursable. Reimbursable fees are usually not considered a part of your project total cost.

City and Administrative Fees

In addition to basic fees such as tax and meter fees, when the project goes to the city for review, there will be additional fees that are not a part of your project cost. These can have many names: plan review fees, variance fees, and building permit fees. These vary city to city, and it would be a good idea to speak to the city about potential costs while developing your budget.

Most cities base the permit fees on a percentage of your project cost, but these would be in addition to your project cost. Additionally, watershed fees, sewer surcharges and water charges may apply.

Your architect should investigate these during the architectural process. These will all be in addition to your project cost.
The frame for the University Lutheran Chapel in Minneapolis being built in a neighborhood

Construction Fees

The cost of building a church building is more than the cost of the studs, nails, and paint. In your final construction contract, there may be a few line items that are unfamiliar. There will be labor costs, which would be the cost for the laborers on your site. This will be a part of every subcontractor’s bid. It is rare to find the costs separated into labor and materials by the subcontractors – they will instead show a single fee in their bid.

The general contractor will include a percentage cost in their fees (some, rarely, show a flat fee). This is the general contractor’s profit and will cover a site supervisor and cover all in-office costs. This will be your project manager, their administrative assistance, and other office costs.

Finally, there will be a line item for general conditions. This is for all site related, non-project specific costs. This will be the temporary electricity, phone lines, dumpster rental, erosion control, and sanitary procedures such as a portable toilet.

Fixtures, Furniture and Equipment Costs for Churches

Often referred to as FF&E, these costs are anything not specified in the plans and not a part of the construction process. It’s also industry standard to not include these costs in your project. Here’s what you can include in FF&E costs:

  • Seating (except for, on occasion, pews)
  • Table lamps and furniture
  • Televisions and projectors
  • Artwork

This is where most of the flexibility is in your church construction budget. If you’re short on budget, there’s lots of wiggle room within this section of your budget.

Taking these fees into account will give a clear picture of the total cost of your project to prevent any surprise costs later.

If you’re ready to establish your budget and start building your new worship space, contact our team of experienced architects to establish this important first step before putting a shovel in the ground.