There are many moving parts when it comes to building and construction! It can be daunting. Especially when most organizations don’t embark on this journey but once every several years. Budget is, of course, key! It’s important for those involved in the planning process to be aware of these hidden construction costs so they can prepare themselves accordingly and stay within their desired budget.

Architecture and Engineering Design Fee

These hidden construction costs seem obvious and for that reason it is often overlooked! Most buildings constructed in the United States will require documents and drawings prepared by architects and engineers registered in the state you plan to build.

Typically, your organization will hire the architect. Some firms have in-house engineering services. Others will hire consultants to provide the necessary engineering design for your project.

When you negotiate the contract with the architect, their fee usually includes the cost for the engineering in the sum. While each architect has their own method of calculating the effort required for a project and the corresponding fee, a good rule of thumb is to plan for 6% to 8% of the total construction cost.

For example, if you’re looking at a building with a construction cost of $1,000,000, your organization should budget $60,000 to $80,000 in design fees. These hidden construction costs could be higher depending on the complexity of design requirements.

HOWEVER, if your organization decided to partner with TECH Team Advantage, the design fee would be one third to HALF of that cost! This is a HUGE benefit of choosing to work with our professional architects at TECH! We are able to do this because we don’t pay our staff salaries (they’re self-funded). As a result, we’re able to minimize overhead costs!

Site Boundary and Topographical Survey

Unless your facility needs include interior renovation only, you will need an updated topographical and boundary survey. This depicts the existing property lines, buildings, utilities, infrastructure, and site topography.

When chatting with new clients/ministries, the first question I always ask is whether or not they have an updated site survey. This tool is critical to the design process! Not having one can delay the start of design process. Costs will vary by region and complexity of the land. If a site is mostly flat, it will cost less than heavily wooded or steep slopes. Regardless, a good rule of thumb is $500 per acre.

Many surveyors will also charge less per acre for larger sites.

For your budgeting purposes, most ministries can expect to pay between $1,500 and $3,000 for the survey.

Geotechnical Investigation

The second question I ask revolves around a geotechnical investigation. Again, if your project is an interior renovation only, you will likely not need a geotechnical investigation. This is another critical tool the architects and engineers use. It determines the foundation type and if any mitigation measures need to be taken for the building slab and site paving to accommodate the soil type or water levels.

Costs will vary based on terrane, site access, soil type, number and depth of bores, along with other factors.

However, a good rule of thumb is to plan for $300 to $600 per bore.

Most ministries should be able to acquire the information needed for $1,500 to $5,000. Prior to ordering an investigation, it’s important to consult with your architect on where the bores are most beneficial.

Civil Engineering

Many design firms exclude civil engineering from their scope of work. The need for this service will be determined by the scope of the project. Unfortunately, there is not a good rule of thumb to determine costs, as much of the fee will be determined by the scope of work.

For planning purposes, your ministry should plan for this fee to be 0.5% to 2% of the cost of construction for the civil work.

Furnishings and Equipment

You have the new building! Now you need to make it habitable for people to use.

As you prepare your budget, it’s important to begin thinking about what furniture and equipment will be needed. You want to make sure you’re able to utilize the space as intended. Every project will have different needs. Your ministry should consider those needs from the outset.

Budgeting this item can be tricky. Providing a line item in your budget with an estimated lump sum will go a long way to ensuring you have resources at the end of the project to purchase these items.

Future Maintenance Costs

One thing that can be guaranteed is that no building will stay new forever. It will be used, sometimes abused, and it will undergo normal wear and tear. While planning your future facility/facilities, your team should consider how the building(s) will be used and where it seems wise to spend extra now to save maintenance and repair costs later.

The temptation with any building project is to complete it as inexpensively as possible. However, lower quality materials and equipment can create maintenance problems down the road that would come out of your operations budget! Planning to spend a little more now when you are raising funds for a new building may actually be better stewardship of your funds than simply spending as little as possible on a building project.

Hopefully with the guide above your organization can build a budget that accounts for all the costs of construction, and not just the building itself.


At TECH Team Advantage, we offer affordable architectural and engineering solutions! We are committed to providing like-minded churches and Christian organizations around the world with effective, efficient, and innovative facilities to help them meet their ministry needs and reach their ministry goals. Our team of seasoned professional architects, engineers, and designers understands the unique aspects of Christian ministries and the building environments needed in order to spread the Gospel more effectively.

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