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Church Construction
By: Doug Yancey

As a steel structure provider to worship facilities, here are some of the questions we frequently get asked by church leaders.

Q.  If our church uses a pre-engineered building (steel systems construction), is it going to look like a warehouse with a steeple on it?
A. No. System construction is adaptable to virtually any architectural design. Often, once completed, it is impossible to tell a pre-engineered structure from a conventional one. Just look at our web site, www.vp.com, to see examples of design flexibility, providing wide open internal spaces for sanctuaries and multi-purpose facilities.

Q. Are there size limitations to the structures?
A. Typically no project is too large or too small for systems construction. Manufacturing capabilities for the better suppliers range from 1200 square feet to 1 million square feet for factories. Large churches or multiple buildings for a worship campus are no problem.

Q. But, a metal building means metal walls. What if we want a more traditional looking structure?
A. A metal building really refers to the framing system, as opposed to "stick-and-brick." The structural skeleton is either a solid web (3-plate I-beam) or a truss frame (open web zig-zag look). The building exterior can be whatever you want! Brick, concrete block, stucco, glass curtain-wall, even stone and wood facades are in use on worship structures.

Q. Good stewardship also means cost-effective and energy-efficient. How can steel buildings meet these goals?
A. Steel is completely recyclable at the end of its use in a structure. Today's steel buildings usually contain 40-60% recycled content in framing and sheeting. Steel spans greater distances, so less material is used than wood framing methods. Plus there are a variety of products (including skylights, cool roofs and innovative insulation systems) that reduce energy demand and costs. 

Q. We have a small church.  Can my starter building be expanded as our congregation grows?
A. Yes. Pre-engineered steel framed systems can be designed for future additions on either end walls or side walls. Your builder and architect can make arrangements for future growth as part of the initial plan. 

In fact, a popular church design today starts with a multi-purpose facility surrounded by classrooms. The interior space can be used as both a sanctuary and a gymnasium, thanks to the strength of steel framing.

When planning a church construction project, research not only the contractor through websites and the Better Business Bureau, but also research the manufacturer. Are they regional or nationwide? Do they specialize in certain types of structures more than others?

Look for a contractor with experience in sanctuaries, recreational, and educational facilities who can assist you as your church campus grows.

Doug Yancey is advertising and sales promotion manager at Varco Pruden Buildings, located in Memphis, Tennessee. Varco Pruden provides steel structures used by a coast-to-coast network of authorized builders, many of whom enjoy building church and private school facilities, www.vp.com.

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