Architects and Church Construction Cost

I had to laugh today as I was reading a Scout Merit Badge Review on the website. One of the merit badges which boy scouts can earn is for architecture. Under the comments section for this merit badge it says, and I quote, “…involves interviews. Be sure to ask the architects why they almost always under estimate the cost!” It’s not just me saying this folks, it seems others have the same opinion!

I can think of a couple reasons why the architect’s cost estimate for church construction is low. For one, they usually only deal in theory as they are not the ones actually building the building. They may consult a building cost resource (always out of date), base it on their last project, or underestimate the cost of some of their architectural “features”. However, they are not on the front line every week in construction of these facilities and may not really have a grasp of the actual costs. Architects also tend to over design buildings. One of the first things most builders will do with a plan is to “value engineer” it to provided the same functionality with a simpler or more cost effective design.

Another reason is that architects usually have no liability if their price estimate is wrong. If the church budget is $1M and the best builders estimate is $1.3, the architect usually has no liability and will cheerfully redesign the building – for a fee. A wise church will insure that in the negotiation phase that any cost for redesign to make the church meet the budget that was provided is born by the architect and not the church.