As important as it is to ensure the walls are water tight, it is equally as important to know the roof system is sturdy. Too many times, congregations will spend many tens of thousands of dollars on interior beautification, simply because they are easier projects for which to raise money than the non-glitzy roof repair.

It makes no sense to renovate a building, only to have the existing roof fail after a couple of months. Remember, if the roof fails, the congregation not only pays for the roof repair, but also the damage to walls, paint, carpeting and furnishings. The answer is simple: before beginning any work, make sure that all of the roofing systems – roof, flashing, gutters, and downspouts – are sound and performing well.

Many good adaptive re-use structures lend themselves easily to the addition of a second floor or balcony. This option requires first retaining the services of a qualified structural consultant. Although a contractor or a group of hard-working volunteers could construct this additional floor space in short order, it is a must that the congregation know before hand if the other structural systems in the building can support additional weight without reinforcement.

Remember the “live load” stress put on a structural system, such as a column by a group of one hundred members celebrating during a service, is very different from the “dead load” of a piece of equipment that may weigh the same as all one hundred members. A worship space needs to have as high a ceiling as possible. If the structure has a 9 foot ceiling in place, with no cavity above the ceiling, this building will probably not work as a PraiseBuilding. Look at the roof deck. The roof deck height is the distance between the floor and the underbelly of the roof (if one is looking at a flat-roofed structure).

Example A. The existing ceiling height is 9 feet, but if the ceiling tiles are removed, the distance to the roof deck is 16 feet. This structure will work well since there is plenty of open space that can be utilized to create a new, higher ceiling height.

Example B. The existing ceiling height is 10 feet, but if the ceiling tiles are removed, the distance to the roof deck is 11 feet. This structure will not work well without extreme modifications since there is little space above the ceiling to create a higher ceiling height.

Higher ceiling heights in PraiseBuildings are critical so that when elevated platforms are built for worship (Altars, Bimahs, or Pulpits), sufficient distance to the ceiling is maintained.

By Stephen Ferrandi, Director, KLNB Regious Properties

Stephen Ferrandi is the Director of KLNB Religious Properties, a real estate firm serving religious clients in Maryland, D.C., Pennsylvania, and Virginia. He is one of the top experts in land development in the region. Mr. Ferrandi frequently contributes real estate related articles to both print and online publications.