Posted in practice on February 11, 2014 3:35 pm EST

Smart-Functioning Design

What the church facility manager knows that can help improve your end product











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TAGS: creativity, operations,


By Dean Johnson

The other day I was watching one of my favorite movies, “The Great Race,” and I couldn’t help comparing the character Max to the majority of church facility managers that I know. Max, played by the late Peter Falk, was the sidekick of the movie’s bad guy, Professor Fate. Don’t get me wrong, very few of us work for bad guys, but many of us are left out of the planning of a project. And when it blows up, crashes and burns or sinks, we are left with the powder burns, bandages and wet clothes. Like Professor Fate, the leadership is so focused on the end result, they overlook the one factor that could bring success—the sidekick.

This scenario plays out many times in the design of a church remodel or building project. It is a frequent comment from church facilities managers that if they would only have been involved on the front end, they could have saved time, resources, money and frustration. Here are some examples:

• Custodial closets were built without plumbing, which means no sinks and no floor drains.

• Stage lighting was installed without access. The church’s lift wouldn’t reach them.

• A copper roof was installed without lightning protection. It ended up being a change order.

• New doors were installed with hardware and keying that didn’t match existing doors.

• New doors were installed with access control, but they didn’t match up with existing security systems.

• A sauna was built over the nicest, most decorative room in the church; it leaks regularly.

• HVAC air handlers are located sporadically over the church. To gain access you must climb up a permanent vertical ladder and lift a heavy fireproof trap door.

• Lighting fixtures were chosen by aesthetics, not function. The required lamps cost 10 times as much as a normal lamp.

• A new multipurpose room was built, but there is no place to store tables and chairs when the room is used without them.

• A new building was built over existing landscaping. All irrigation piping and control wires are destroyed. All repairs are done after the fact, adding cost.

• Inline HVAC pumps are installed to the installer’s convenience. In order to service, one must climb through existing piping and stand on insulated pipes.

• In fairness, there are also success stories where the facility manager was involved from the start.

• Designers planned upfront for electronic access, cameras and automation before the project, avoiding the additional costs of adding these items later.

• Project designers installed several empty conduits underground during construction for future expansion.

• The church facility manager acted as the “go-to guy” on the project and helped the church save thousands of dollars.

• Designers involved the current security company in the design. Each item spec’d, as a result, meshed with existing doors, alarms, etc.

• Designers called for the installation of same-brand HVAC, saving on inventory, repair time and helping add continuity.

• The facility managers helped prevent church member frustration by being involved in the logistics of shutting things down or closing off access for a period of time.  continued >>