Don't let this happen to you! HarrySmith@pexels
I live in a beautiful 1925 Craftsman home. Did I mention it was old? Oh, the joy of caring for things that fall apart with age (and no, I am not referring to myself). In the thirty-plus years we’ve been in our house the pipes and electrical wires have been replaced. We’ve done an addition, remodeled the kitchen, installed a new water heater, and the interior and exterior painting…well that seems to be never ending.
I suspect that’s the way with your church too, right? Just like Rosanne Rosannadanna says, “It’s always something.” And that reference alone definitely puts me in the antique bin.
Yes, it is “always something,” but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be prepared.
How do you keep on top of what needs to be replaced or updated on your church property?
A few weeks ago, at Church of the Resurrection’s Leadership Institute, I went to a workshop: “Financial Planning Long-Term Building Improvements and Capital Expenditures” led by Rachel Svaty, the CFO and Executive Director of Business Operations for Church of the Resurrection (COR). With the amount of property that is owned and managed by COR, Svaty has her work cut out for her.
However, she doesn’t wait for a pipe to burst or the roof to start leaking to take action. She has a plan in place to be prepared – and not surprised – when things go sideways in one of the COR buildings.
Here is Svaty’s four-part method for making sure long-term building improvements stay front and center:
1. Identify fixed assets.
Here are some examples of large capital expenditures: Roof, HVAC, plumbing/pipes, flooring/carpet, video, audio – you get the picture. Now determine what assets do you currently have? Can you quantify those along with dates? For example: Roof installed in 2012 (10,000sf), four security cameras installed in 2022 (two indoor/two outdoor), sanctuary carpet installed in 2019 (2,000sf), etc. This will give you an overall picture of what you have and when those things were last replaced or purchased.
2. Estimate Replacement Cost.
Svay suggests that you use current replacement cost estimates, knowing that costs will increase (or hopefully decrease).
3. Estimate the Replacement Timing
How long should your HVAC last? How about your roof? How about the asphalt in your parking lot?
4. Prioritize Your List
What need is most pressing? What cannot be ignored?
Put all of this in a document or Excel sheet that you and others can refer to, at minimum, on an annual basis.
This is a perfect project for your Trustees or whichever committee watches over your church’s physical structure. Every congregation should have a long-term building improvement plan because waiting until there’s an emergency is nerve wracking and…expensive.
If you put in place a plan for taking care of your building, you can also begin thinking about a capital campaign so that there are funds available when the time comes. People understand the need to replace or add things to make ministry vital and long-lasting. But in order for that to happen, you need to document what you currently have and how long it will last.
You love your house? Take care of it. It’s a valuable God-given asset not only for your congregation but for your community as well.