July 30, 2012 by: Ben Heimsath

This is the final in the a three-part series on master planning with congregations.  

The success of the master plan can determine the outcome of a congregation's building program.  The time and effort spent in master planning raises important issues early.  Participants should help set the vision and establish realistic expectations for the building program to follow.

7.    Zoning and development codes.  What are the likely steps toMaster Planning with Congregations-Group Participation gain approval for the first-phase and future phases of construction?  Is rezoning, re-subdivision needed?  Are there difficult permit issues that may require a public approval process?  How long will these take?  What happens if the efforts aren't successful? 

A realistic strategy should deal with any variances or changes needed.  Though entitlement issues can be complex, the Master Plan should explain the issues so congregation members can understand the reasons for the variances and any contingencies in case the requests are denied.

8.    Phasing recommendations.  It is highly unlikely that everything can be done all at once.  Generally, the most pressing needs should be met in the earliest phases.  Also show how later phases will address other needs.  Be thoughtful about the size and cost of each phase.  Each one should be a realistic "bite-sized" project.  

The Phase One scope and budget may be a challenge, but it must be attainable.  Phase One may address a range of issues, even if only small improvements can be made in some areas.  For example, a phase-one classroom addition may include a larger room for multi-use functions until a later-phase fellowship hall can be built.  
UUMC birdseye cropped resized 600
Consider the needs of each ministry while construction is underway in each phase.  Will temporary facilities be needed?  If so, how might they be obtained?  

How will the budget or fundraising impact the phasing?  Some elements may be suggested as "extras" that might be included if fundraising goals are exceeded.

9.      Scheduling. Rather than promising too much too soon, congregation leaders should set a realistic schedule for implementation.  The building process takes time and preparation.  Though it may be possible to speed up or "fast track" some projects, generally the trade-off is greater cost and possibly less quality.  
Master Planning with Congregations Holy Trinity Episcopal
Don't short-change the pre-construction schedule.  This time is essential for the architects and engineers to do their work.  Consider the time needed for meetings, focus groups and presentations so that congregation members and their needs can be included.

If there are critical dates or deadlines, how will they be accommodated?  Has adequate time been given for obtaining approvals from the congregation or denominational boards or government agencies?  How about the time needed for fundraising and financing?  Make sure to explain how critical deadlines or actions can impact the start of construction or the completion of the project.

10.    Create a strong image & clear presentation. -- Everyone wants to know what it going to look like!  A good presentation should include a floor plan or site plan, with one or more 3-D renderings.

Make sure to explain that the Master Plan images can't be considered final drawings, there will be lots of input and refinements when the project goes through the later design phases. All issues should be explained in sufficient detail and any contingencies noted.  The Master Plan presentation should set the stage for accomplishing the work of implementing the program.
Master Plan St Francis by the Sea resized 600
The presentation for St. Francis by the Sea on the Outer Banks in North Carolina set a clear image and expectation, contributing to the success of the building program.

Master Planning: 10 Essentials

Design Process/ Building Committee/ Master Plan