I’m not an expert in architecture or carpentry. But there are some obvious things I’ve noticed through the years that can make a significant difference in church buildings and landscaping. Some can save a world of headache down through the years. This is primarily related to small churches, but most will apply to churches of all sizes. These comments are in no particular order.
1. Never have flat roof on a church building. Years ago SWBTS professor Dr. Gary Waller noted that they always seem to put the drain at the high point of that flat roof. So there is standing water on the roof just trying to find a way in.
2. Tie down the roof with hurricane clips, galvanized metal straps, or whatever will work in high winds. Build it extra strong and secure.
3. Use galvanized nails or outdoor/exterior screws in all areas that may receive rain or moisture. Regular interior nails and screws can rust out.
4. Always put the church parking lot at the front, or at least to the side of the buildings. A full parking lot that can easily be seen is free advertisement to the church. I had a preacher friend with nice, new facilities and plenty of room. But the parking lot was behind the church building. On a Sunday morning with a full church, people driving by thought the church was empty or abandoned.
5. Build up the church foundation at least six inches higher than needed. A little extra cost to prevent flooding will make a world of difference in years to come. A building on a concrete foundation cannot later be raised. So haul in extra dirt and build it high.
6. Never make the sidewalks the same level or even close to the same level as the inside of the church building. This forms a moat and encourages flooding and soggy ground.
7. When laying the sidewalks, every so often put drainage pipes (3 inch pvc pipes minimum) under the sidewalk. Especially put them in natural drainage areas. Or you can lower the sidewalk in certain areas to allow rain water to flow over it.
8. Do not bring the pavement right up to the foundation of the buildings. Leave at least 10 feet between pavement and the church building. Over 10 feet is even better. Leave room for a green space, shade or fruit trees, shrubs, some kind of landscaping. This can really improve the appearance of your buildings. Too many leave no space or just two or three feet between paved areas and the building; that is not nearly enough room and nothing of significance can be planted in such a confined area.
9. Some quick landscape notes: Keep string trimmers and mowers away from all trees and shrubs. Don’t let a trimmer ever touch the trees. Damage the bark and the tree is seriously damaged. Trimmers are murder on trees! Countless trees have been slowly killed this way. Plant trees in a well drained sunny location, plant them an inch or two higher than they were growing in the pot, water in well, and keep the ground around them covered in mulch. Water them often for the first month or two until they are established.
10. Do not use the cheapest, or the most expensive building materials. If at all possible, especially don’t use the cheapest.
-by David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, August 12, AD 2009.
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