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Seaford Baptist Church

Seaford Baptist Church was founded in 1963 in a small rural area of York County, Virginia, located a short distance from the Chesapeake Bay. As the church grew, the congregation committed to their first construction project, building a 100-plus seat worship center completed in 1964. As this community grew, so did the church with several classroom and administrative additions. In 1979, as God continued to bless this small community, the congregation once again committed to a construction program. This new 275-seat worship center was a contemporary addition to the complex with a soaring glass entry, laminated beams, and exposed wood ceilings. This new worship center was located at the far end of the more recent classroom additions and on the opposite side from the original sanctuary.

Some 18 years later, as the work of Seaford Baptist Church continued throughout the community, the church once again realized their need for expansion. This time, the new Family Life Center and Administrative wing were planned to provide expanding services to the community and youth of York County. This addition, including a commercial kitchen and full court gym, provided the opportunity for community outreach. This continued outreach brought an expanding membership. Church attendance grew, forcing the church to move their two Sunday services to the Family Life Center.

Leadership Development
Over the years, Seaford concentrated on the development of a strong pastoral staff and a trustee body that provided sound and unified leadership. By 2002, the Sunday attendance had grown to between 600 and 700 patrons, and, once again, this church leadership was called to plan their next phase of growth.

Before going to the entire congregation, the trustees listened to select members and developed a plan to build a 1,200-seat worship center. Realizing the importance of congregational unity, the church approached ARCI architects to develop a preliminary image of the new facility. The early design incorporated the octagonal worship center with a bell tower standing 120 feet high. The tower relocated a portion of the steeple from the 1970s addition to continue the heritage of the church.

Membership Commitment
The Trustee body and church leadership worked within the congregation to share with the members the dream for the new Worship Center. The image was presented to the congregation as part of the early fundraising effort in 2002. At the call to commitment, more than half of the anticipated cost of construction was raised.

During the planning process, a program of needs and eventually a square footage program was developed to support the new center. An essential part of this program was a testing of the budgeting. Working together with the architect, the church established their budget for not only construction, but also the variety of expenses incurred that are associated with the construction and design process. The building budget was established at $3 million (not including fees, permits, studies, etc.). It was important to the leadership team that the budget be respected and maintained to reduce construction costs. The team understood this meant compromise in order to achieve their budgeted goals.

Contractor Selection
Frequently during these early stages, the owner and architect proceed into the contract documents trusting that their budgeting will be achieved at bidding. With the preliminary design in hand, and an established budget, this design team of the church and ARCI architects moved forward with the selection of a contractor. Three contractors with a high record of performance on similar projects were chosen to interview. It is important during this prescreening to select, for consideration, a contractor with a value system and communication style similar to that of the client. In this case, the key selection criteria were communication, proven performance in cost control, and an established process to control costs. The establishment of the billing rates, the cost for the general conditions and a requirement to have every trade bid to at least three specialty contractors were also part of this selection process. Henderson Contractors were chosen to build the Worship Center.

Immediately, the team prepared a detailed estimate, not only by the general contractor but also by specialty contractors, that contributed to critical cost areas (i.e., mechanical, foundation, masonry, structural, metal studs, roof framing, site improvements, etc.). Original estimates proved that the project was between $300,000 and $400,000 over budget. System estimates were then performed to evaluate various HVAC, structural, wall, and roof framing systems.

This same process was repeated at the end of Schematic Design, Design Development, and at 80% completion of Construction Documents. At this point, it was discovered that changing to roof trusses from TJI framing allowed the ceiling to be secured to the bottom of the trusses in the Worship Center, netting a savings of $90,000. In all, savings of $400,000 to $500,000 (2003 dollars) were achieved through the team process. The final budget was adjusted to $3.1 million to allow for some construction items not originally anticipated. Later, a comparison of Seafordís Worship Center against two like facilities proved the results. As compared to Seaford Baptistís costs, two other projects came in at 1.13 and 1.79 times the total cost of Seaford. A more interesting comparison is the cost per seat of worship. Here again, the costs per seat were 1.22 and 1.36 times the cost of Seaford.

Today, this 1,200-seat center serves not only Sunday services, but also the Christmas Pageant and Christian Concert Series, which draw 2,000 and 900 patrons a day, respectively). The new Worship Center is located in front of the 1972 sanctuary (converted to a youth center) and designed to incorporate architectural elements from the 1964 and later classroom additions. The flat arch entries and windows honor the elements of the original architecture. The massive Worship Center was designed with smaller forms to relate to the scale of the earlier structure.

Setting the Worship Center forward of the existing construction allowed it to become the focal point of the site and promoted the separation of the larger mass from the much smaller scale of the earlier buildings. The repetition of the architectural elements, the scaling of smaller forms and the forward location allowed this 25,000-square-foot addition to complement the previous work of this congregation.

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