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RESERVE STUDY FOR CHURCH / WORSHIP FACILITIES


A reserve study can be an extremely valuable tool for a non-profit organization like a worship facility. The use of the report for the long term budgeting related to building and site repair & replacement projects is the main advantage of having a comprehensive study completed. Non-profit organizations often have a good understanding of the ongoing maintenance and operating expenses annually, but the longer term expenses related to infrequent but very expensive projects is often overlooked. This can lead to a scramble for funds at the last minute, reliance on expensive loans or deferred maintenance issues as the organization puts off projects to save enough for large project expenditures.


A reserve study provides a solution to this problem as the report will include the necessary information to make informed decisions for the budget and the replacement schedule of expected components of the building and site. By utilizing the expertise of a reserve study professional your organization has taken a step towards a much smoother financial path regarding these expenses which are predictable to an expert in this field. Below is an explanation of some of the benefits to ordering and implementing a reserve study into your budgeting plan.


How Much Does A Reserve Study Cost for a Church / Worship Facility?   


The cost of completing a reserve study is based on the amount of time needed to create a comprehensive study for each specific building / property. Taken into consideration are the amount of time needed to complete the site inspection, how long will be needed to research and provide recommendations on the building and grounds components, interviews with facility and vendors and travel time (if appropriate). That being said most Church / Worship Facility Reserve Study costs are in the $2,000-$5,000 range. We provide free proposals for any specific property after we have done some preliminary research and can usually have this out within one business day. You can request a free proposal at the following link:   Request Free Worship / Church Reserve Study Proposal

Component List Developed


A component list is developed during a comprehensive visual site inspection. This component list will include building components, site components and components that are specific to the project (furniture, artwork, software, etc.). This list is extremely helpful to an organization which needs to understand what they have and how much it will cost to replace. Many systems have large expenses that are not readily apparent to someone not knowledgeable about useful life expectancies of building components and systems. A reserve study specialist has the expertise, experience and resources to develop a comprehensive component list that an organization can rely on.

Comprehensive site inspection conducted


  • Cost and useful life researched
  • Component list developed – Items that have predictable useful life expectancies

Replacement Schedule


A replacement schedule is provided in the reserve study based on the experience, research and historical data of the building. This replacement schedule provides annual projected expenses for 30 years into the future and is extremely helpful for any facility maintenance person to refer to and make plans accordingly.


  • Timeline of expected projects annually for 30 years
  • Timeline of projected future costs for projects

Reserve Contribution Recommendation


The reserve analyst will create funding plans to help guide an organization on a fiscally responsible and stable path. The recommendations are broken down in to annual and monthly amounts so an organization can see exactly how much they should be prepared to reserve to stay on track for paying for future projects. If an organization has no reserves or is considered poorly funded the reserve analyst will adjust their recommendations accordingly to show how they can direct their efforts and future reserves into a more appropriate direction.


  • Percent funded calculation (how healthy is the reserve account)
  • How much is adequate
  • Goals of the Client
  • Recommendations for a fiscally responsible path 

Fundraising Efforts


Many organizations have successfully utilized their reserve study for fundraising efforts. While ongoing costs have bills/invoices to show and compute into the budget the long term deterioration of building components is not so apparent. The very expense but infrequent projects like roofing, asphalt, windows, plumbing can easily “sneak” up on an organization which does not plan for them accordingly. Including these expenses in to the fundraising efforts by showing exactly what it is going to cost long term will help to generate additional funds. Since the reserve study breaks down the recommended reserve contributions into annual and monthly dollar amounts it can be easily transferred into funding efforts by showing the organization membership what the real ongoing costs are.


  • Show membership the real cost of running the establishment
  • Donors have a better understanding of how the money is spent
  • Share the results to facilitate donor contributions (barn raisings luncheon)
  • Independent party providing recommendation and projections

Maintain / Increase Aesthetic Appeal


Organizations with membership who support the ongoing existence of it often also have the burden of making sure the members are alright with how the facility looks. A building which appears outdated and has deferred maintenance issues like peeling paint or leaking roofs gives the membership the feeling that the money they are providing is being managed poorly. To maintain and increase membership the facilities of any organization which relies on its membership for money should in turn make sure that they are adequately budgeting or projects.


  • Maintaining and increasing appeal helps to maintain and increase congregation numbers
  • Appearances matter to the community – curb appeal, events, weddings, etc.
  • A place where people are comfortable in the environment – remodeled areas attract more visitors and get more use

Safety & Liability


The safety of the membership, their children and those visiting is of the utmost importance. This could be as small as trip hazards in the concrete walkways to as large as deck & railing replacement needs which when overlooked or deferred can cause safety hazards. Additionally insurance premiums can be lower for those buildings which are adequately maintained.


  • Trip hazards, safety and sanitation issues addressed
  • Kids, play equipment, roads, fencing, etc.
  • Insurance premiums are lower for those buildings keeping up on the projects

It's Cheaper & Easier to Plan Ahead


By far the cheapest option is to plan for large projects well in advance. An established reserve account will benefit from compounding interest on the reserve account which over a 30 year can have a significant impact. Large expense projects like roofing, asphalt and siding repair/replacement can often see savings of 10-20% when adequately budgeted for. Alternatively an organization that needs to come up with funds last minute will often have to rely on costly loans or plead with the membership to donate more both of which are not ideal and lean the membership wondering what past money has been used for.


  • Interest earned on reserve account balance
  • Numerous bids generally equals a lower overall project cost to thr Client
  • Plan for projects in advance – shut down only what is needed​​​​​​​

Economic Downturns Will Happen


Economic downturns can result in lower funds coming in for an extended period of time. A large expense or numerous components failing during these years can result in a shortfall of cash or reliance on very costly loans. By spreading out the cost to membership over time there is less of a likelihood that the Organization will need to raise a large amount of cash in any specific period of time; economic downturns can be weathered more adequately and with adequately planning there should be minimal risk for the need for a loan in time periods when Lenders are usually more restrictive on their lending terms and risk models.

Bids Verification


As projects come to fruition an organization can relying on the reserve study for verification of these bids. Since we take detailed measurements and quantities during the site inspection it will be very apparent which vendors did not do their due diligence when providing a bid. Very low or very high bids are sometimes the result of poor measurements or rough estimates that in the end often result in bids that are higher or lower than was first estimated by the vendor.


  • The measurements and quantities can be compared to bids obtained
  • Be an informed Buyer – More bids and a document to fall back on that is independent and backed by experience and research. Informed Buyers get more for their money
  • The reserve analyst is independent with only your best interest taken into account

Financing  


In recent years as Lenders have tightened their lending guidelines they are often requesting a reserve study to determine if an organization has a long term plan and to see how healthy the reserve funds are.  Lenders have risk models that they rely on to determine everything from interest rates to loan terms. As organizations expand to building or buy other buildings the long term costs will often be a factor in a Lenders decision making. A reserve study shows them that you have thought of this and implementing the reserve study recommendations shows that you are serious about the long term financial health of the organization.  


  • Lending institutions like to see you have a grasp on the real costs and have a plan to pay for them
  • The lower the perceived risk to the Lender, the better loan terms an organization can expect to obtain