How To Be a Great Client When Building

How To Be a Great Client When Building

You’ve interviewed architects and decided on the firm to design your new church building. How can you and your church leadership be a great client to the architect? The following are some words of wisdom from an experienced architect, giving an outline of ways to be a great team player with your architect, throughout the building process.


  • Pastor the process
  • Expect adversity
  • Be intentional about relationships
  • Cast spiritual vision
  • Know your DNA
    • Distinguish between fashion and ministry needs
    • Speak with one voice
      • Unite the staff and BC
      • Commit to the agreed upon communication process
  • Thoroughly discuss expectations

Main Points

  • Choose the project team well
    • The building committee – What are you looking for?
      • Aesthetic appreciation
      • Construction knowledge
      • Bean counters
      • Ministry knowledge
  • Architect – What are you looking for?
    • Experience and talent – How do I know they have it?
      • Visit local AIA for suggestions on firms
      • Interview proposed project team
        • PIC, PM, PA, ID
        • Knowledge of church/ministry dynamics
        • Depth of staff
      • Outstanding references
        • Run references and visit finished projects
        • Talk to contractors of recently completed projects
      • Cultural fit
        • Size of firm fits project
        • Heart and passion
        • Speak the same language
        • Appropriate technology culture
      • Busy, but not too busy
        • Schedule has some wiggle room
        • Attentive to our needs/ideas
  • Contractor – What are you looking for?
    • Delivery methods
      • Construction Manager at risk ([email protected])
      • Traditional design bid build by invitation
      • Design-build by invitation
      • Integrity
        • Respected by owners and subcontractors
      • Quality
        • Visit built projects and projects in progress
      • Best value
      • Experienced team
        • Project Manager
        • Superintendent
        • Estimators
      • Outstanding references
        • Run references and visit finished projects
          • Talk to owners of recently completed projects (not necessarily the pastor—people who were very involved in the process)
      • Cultural fit (cowboy vs. suit)
      • Accept wise counsel
        • Allow the team to serve you
        • Expect professionalism
        • The balancing act (size, quality and budget)
        • Manage change
          • Develop and communicate your priorities
            • Scope creep
            • Schedule creep
  • Contingency budgeting
    • Estimating during the process
    • Owner
    • Soft costs
    • Construction
    • Celebrate
      • Don’t gain a whole building and lose a thousand souls!
2016-10-12T11:00:55+00:00By |New Building|

About the Author:

John Jackson
John C. Jackson, AIA, RID is a Founding Principal at Jackson Galloway Associates, an architecture and interiors firm that specializes in serving churches. Their work ( often feels more like a ministry than a business, as they help pastors and congregations turn their unique character and calling into visible, tangible design solutions.