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Evaluating Property: How to Know if the Property You’re Looking at is the Perfect Place for your Mission to Grow

If you or your company/organization/church already owns property for expansion, this article will serve more as a checklist to highlight items that may need further research. If you are meeting in a space that needs revitalization, this article will help you develop a plan based on facilities you already have. You may need to do some retroactive investigation to make sure you can confidently make decisions and prioritize your needs. If you are planning to one day purchase or lease property for your building, you will want to use this as your go-to resource until you close a deal.

Typically, buildings who need the most help, but who can afford it the least, are in the very beginning phaseblog-5-01s of seeking a permanent place to call home. You might be meeting in someone’s home, or leasing something that for various reasons isn’t meeting your needs. You know you need to be working toward change, but you aren’t sure where to begin. All sensibilities aside, the possibilities of where people could meet are essentially endless. The question becomes whether the decision is financially prudent, provides the possibility for expansion (if not, can be quickly sold or benefit the company in another way), and, most importantly, sets the stage for your culture to thrive.

Thinking about the vision for where your group might live can feel overwhelming and can provoke two opposite responses:

  1. Paralysis by analysis
  2. Hasty action based on little or no reliable advice

Both of these approaches have a tendency to exhaust the leadership and the space. Indecision will result in your building reaching the point of bursting at the seams, while hasty action (which is often based on urgency to show the group their funds are being used correctly) usually results in poor decisions and disastrous consequences (typically financial in nature). A conservatively proactive approach is a much better strategy. Long before you are ready to hire any professionals or make a purchase, you have a lot of work to do to ensure that when the time comes, you can confidently strike while the iron is hot!

Have you ever thought, “Could someone just tell me if this property would work, how fast I could get it, and how much it would cost?” It’s no secret that dealing with leasing and purchasing property is complicated and can move quickly! If you could quickly determine if a scenario is even feasible, you could save money and time. This is where feasibility studies come in. They are the fastest and most cost effective way to weigh a customer’s options. For example, say we have a potential property we are considering, and we are wondering if it will work – can we get the parking spaces we need; can we seat all the people; can we have band practice; can we accommodate the food distribution ministry? And, importantly, does this property offer a reasonable price point, as compared to our other geographically acceptable options?

A feasibility study can also figure out how your current facility could be expanded to meet your congregation’s growing needs. Or, the study could compare your current location to a different one, with regard to space and price. A feasible study could look at leasing versus buying. 

Feasibility study – a concentrated effort to determine whether an idea is financially, strategically,blog-5-02 functionally, and aesthetically feasible. This study typically involved a design team working for a short time to address one or more possibilities (sometimes for land purchases and other opportunities). 

Such a study is the quickest tool to help you make decisions about your next move. A feasibility study does not go into great detail, but rather investigates the major considerations of a location, leaving the smaller items to study later.

Feasibility studies are the single best value product offered at PlanNorth because they offer the client a chance to compile all of the facts in a straightforward way, bringing clarity in preparation for good decision making.

If any questions come to my mind, please feel free to email us at info@plannorth.com

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Managing Your City’s Building Requirements: What the Heck are They Thinking?

City officials look at buildings a little differently than the public, and even a little differently than architects and engineers. While architects and engineers will reference codes to complete our overall design goals, the entirety of a city building official’s career is based on codes. Sometimes churches, nonprofits and small businesses expect to be granted at least some degree of leniency on items such as parking, fire sprinkler system requirements, detention, and other code-mandated items. The truth is that the city officials do not see your church as a loving group of people serving and sharing. They see it as a type of building, and that’s their job. While they may admire what you are doing personally, their professional responsibility is to zero in on what you are building and confirm that your design team has applied the correct codes.

What you are required to provide and do in a space is based on something called “Occupancy Type.” Occupancy type is basically a description of what you are planning to do in the building and involves various categories. Some examples include Mercantile, Business, Industrial, and Assembly. Church worship spaces are designated as Assembly. In simple terms, Assembly spaces are places where people gather in groups.  Offices are typically designated as “Business”.

So if you are moving into an old church and renovating, you are not changing the Occupancy blog-3-01Type of that building. If you are moving into an Office Building and turning it into a Church, you are changing the occupancy type from Business to Assembly. If you are moving into another type of Assembly space such as an Event Center, you will be closer in requirements, but there are several types of Assembly Spaces. Even though it’s the exact same actual building, the purpose of the building is what determines what the codes are going to require. Do not assume you can move in without building more parking, more restrooms, putting in detention, etc. This is something that the architect will check during their code search, or you can bring those questions up to the city prior to the land purchase if you do not have an architect helping you at that time.

City officials respect professionals who do their own code research and can explain their reasoning. Every once in a while you run into a problem and you have to pick your battles. Respect and professionalism, as well as compromise, are key on all sides.

If any questions come to my mind, please feel free to email us at info@plannorth.com

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