the IONIC Masterplan… Now What?

Last week, we briefly shared some early steps in the process of the IONIC Masterplan and strategic planning for your church growth. How do you begin? The steps? Why the IONIC Masterplan is better than just a master plan. And so on. Here is the direct link if you missed it. the IONIC Masterplan Link

This week, we want to talk about what’s next. You have engaged IONIC to prepare your IONIC Masterplan and have come to an agreement that all of the pieces of the puzzle are exactly what the church needs… but… there is always a but!

First let me share that most people, especially people involved on a church development committee do not like to make decisions. Everyone likes to share opinions, plan, plot, tinker, discuss, debate and beat an idea to death over the littlest details… but it’s difficult to make the decision on the next step. Most of the time, a church comes to IONIC when they are in need of a design solution for their spatial problems. That’s what we do… DeZign Solutions. The key ingredient here is that they are already struggling with the spatial problems otherwise they wouldn’t have reached out for our help. They need the solution now!

So here is the big but… they don’t move forward once they have the road map in front of them. Why?

1.       Money

2.       Congregational approvals

Congregational approvals is mostly an excuse. Everyone knows that it is needed. Everyone knows that it is wanted. Everyone knows that it will enormously help with the ministry. Everyone knows… but… no one will make a decision. Most likely it always comes down to money.

Money is a good reason, too. I practice the good stewardship of praying about my needs before a big purchase. Many times I have already studied, diagnosed the need and come to agreement (with myself or others involved) that it is the right choice. I pray about it and turn it over to God. And then I listen… probably the next most important part of prayer.

I always share with our church clients a few simple steps for looking at their new ‘building adventure’. If it was the exact amount of money they expected, would there still be hesitation? Most of the time that isn’t the case. It’s more money than anticipated. Unfortunately, the cost of construction is expensive. And it isn’t going to get cheaper. It’s only going to get more expensive. So for that very reason, NOW is the perfect time!

So let’s take an example and break it down. Let say a church met over several months with our design team and they had a modest budget dream of $500,000 dollars for the construction of a new smaller addition. Sound familiar? So after several months of planning and drawing and configuring. A plan has been developed… everything they wanted… and it’s the cost is… you guessed it… $750,000. Now this wasn’t poor planning. It was discussed during the development that if we added that extra bathroom, that extra room, that new entry, etc., it would affect the costs. All agreed that it was the ultimate desire. How do we fix it?

1. Scale back the plan. We have an overall plan and can now prepare to develop the work in phases, if needed. Often, we can build the majority of what we absolutely need now. The church may not get EVERYTHING they want right now and by breaking it into phases might push that phase down the road many years or not ever at all. Be careful!

2. Seek additional pricing. Commonly, we will be asked to find another contractor to prepare an estimate on the master the IONIC Masterplan plan, until we find one that provides a price that is ACCEPTABLE. At this early stage of design documents it’s still a guessing game. Not the best long term solution.

3. Develop detailed plans. One of the best ways to determine the real cost of a construction project is allowing IONIC to begin developing further detailed documents that describe the steel, the mechanical, how the walls will be built, how the firewall will work and any critical details to help the selected contractor to sharpen their focus on the TRUE COST of the construction.

4. Wait. Yes, this is an option. Unfortunately, we see it too often. A church decides to wait until enough money, support and commitment can be stockpiled. Most of the time it includes PAIN. Leaders will decide to wait to do anything until it HURTS ENOUGH. Before pulling the trigger.

Let me share a breakout of how the cost of construction and waiting affects the project. Then you, as the leadership, can make the best decision for your church.

So let’s just say that your Project was planned for $500,000 and if the work came to that amount you would pull the trigger…..GREAT! We love when a plan comes together. But it didn’t. It’s $250,000 over. That’s a lot of money. I agree. Construction is a lot of money.

The breakdown that $250,000 into the total years of use you’ll have it. Now the church most likely will have it forever…..but we can use 25 years as a guide. Easy math.


$250,000 into 25 years = $10,000/year

$10,000 a year = $833/month

$833 a month would break down into $208 a week. Since churches typically receive tithes every Sunday.

That might be one new family added to the fellowship due to your new programs and ministry added because you had room to grow. Or maybe it’s five existing families giving an extra $52 a week to help offset the cost of the entire desired scope.

This example shows how the break down can allow it to happen now… under the current construction dollars.

What happens if we wait? Let’s exclude things that we have no control over like tariffs on steel or labor force issues or even a downturn in the economic system. None of us really want that!

We have seen historically that the increases in construction cost happen yearly based on material availability at 6% and labor costs at 2%. Again we will try to leave inflation out of it as well but 4% is a common number used. Let’s plan that the church has put the project on hold for 5 years.

This is what happens:


Year One: $250,000 becomes $270,000

Year Two: $270,000 becomes $291,600

Year Three: $291,600 becomes $314,928

Year Four: $314,928 becomes $340,122

Year Five: $340,122 becomes $367,331

Your project now costs you an additional $117,331!

NOT REALLY! Wait!!!!!

Remember you never pulled the trigger on the original $500,00 budget. The above numbers were just the additional costs for the project.

A FIVE YEAR DELAY of the construction project on $750,000 scope will increase to over $1,100,000 which is a $350,000 increase in your costs.

So what is the answer? It’s actually a little bit of everything

1.       Scale back a portion of the work to make it accommodate as much of the ministry goals as possible and not create a financial hardship on the church. IONIC can help you break this down allowing for the future expansion once needed or desired.

2.       Find a contractor that fits the goals and budget concerns. One that does work with churches and is willing to do open book pricing so the committee can see the direct results of their choices. IONIC has worked with many contractors that we can recommend.

3.       Pursue the detailed plans along with the general contractor the church decided to partner with. This eliminates a lot of guess work by the subcontractors that will be pricing their portion. IONIC can develop the plans

So, what’s next? Let’s talk. We can help DeZign a Solution for your future.