Church Construction Consulting – Norfolk, Suffolk, Hampton Roads

And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.”

– Matthew (ch. VII, v. 25)

Q. What should we build first-a sanctuary, education building, or family life center?

A. The answer depends on your ministry and the long term vision and mission of your church. However, experience has shown that building your sanctuary first is the most beneficial. New churches tend to experience tremendous attendance and a membership boom. A growing church means a greater base of support resulting in a larger budget and building fund for the next phases of the project.

Q. How many people should our new sanctuary seat? A. A good rule of thumb is twice the current numbers. Keep in mind the pace of growth your church has experienced and growth projections as a gauge for whether this number is too low or too high. You will also need to consider your budget. If you can not afford the required seating, choose a design that for cost effective expansion in the future.

Q. What are the advantages and disadvantages of a multipurpose facility? A. The role of the church faculty has grown over the years. Today’s ministries find that they are doing much more than Sunday worship and fellowships. Many churches today operate seven days a week 16 or more hours a day to not only serve their congregation but to meet the needs of the surrounding community.


Allows for minimum cost for maximum space
Fosters full utilization throughout the week for different programs and ministry needs
Offers relaxed and inviting atmosphere for the unchurched
Builds community relationships by serving as a location for events

Departs from traditional church design and atmosphere
Requires additional man power and facilities management to accommodate setup and tear down for different functions
Once you have weighed the advantages and disadvantages, you will also need to consider the following when designing a multipurose facility:

Space design must support the different functions the faculty will serve.
Sufficient storage to accommodate tables, chairs, and equipment needed for different programs and functions.
Proper planning for lighting, sound system, acoustical treatment, and electricity to properly serve the various functions your church will support.

Q. How do we calculate space requirements? A. Square footage is allocated by person. Before you begin to calculate space, you will need to determine how many people each program will serve when in session, and which programs can share space. Once you have these numbers, you can use the table below to calculate your space requirements:

AGE Square Feet Per Person
Preschool 30
Grades 1-5 22
Grades 6-8 20
Grades 9-12 18
Adults 10

Q. What type of future space options should we consider?

A. There are two design options I found that give churches the most cost effective opportunities for future expansion:

Balconies: Design your church with the ability to add balconies later on. You can gain up to 30 percent additional seating while keeping to a tight budget.
Expandable End Walls: Expandable end walls a structured so that you can easily build additions to the existing building.

Q. How much parking space will we need? A. First identify any city or county codes and requirements for church parking. Parking ratios are based on the number of seats in your sanctuary. For example, every 3 seats you have in your sanctuary, you may need one parking space. Usual seat-to- parking ratios used by churches range from 2:1 to 4:1.