If your congregation is in need of additional space for your church services or outreach activities, a modular church may be your best option. Modular churches offer you incredible value, flexibility, and control over the building’s style.
No matter your need, you can find your solution in a standard or customized modular building. Continue reading to learn more about modular churches and how to pick the perfect one that will best serve your congregation.
What's In This Article
What Is a Modular Church Building?
Modular church buildings, like all modular buildings, consist of premade building units that are repeatable and can connect to one another. Unlike in traditional construction, modular buildings are made off-site and ahead of time. Once it is time to erect the building, the modular nature of these structures allows workers to put them into place quickly and easily.
What separates a modular church from other modular structures is that modular churches are specifically designed to suit the needs of a worshipping congregation. Such designs may include certain layouts, lighting arrangements, and acoustics that work together to create the ideal worshipping setting for churchgoers.
Modular churches also share the most if not all of the same incredible benefits that all modular buildings do. We’ll cover the specifics of those advantages later on. For now, let’s look at a few of the common ways that people refer to modular buildings.
Common Names You Might Hear these Buildings Referred to as:
What makes modular buildings confusing at first is that they can go by different names depending on who you are talking to. To avoid that confusion, you should know that modular buildings can also be called:
- Prefabricated or “prefab” buildings
- Pre-Engineered buildings
In some instances, there are slight differences in the meaning of the terms above. However, you can rest assured that each one refers to a building or a part of a building created prior to construction. With that terminology out of the way, we’ll move on to the major types of modular homes.
Types of Modular Churches
As is the case with nearly all types of buildings, there are multiple options when it comes to modular churches. In general, these buildings fall into one of two categories:
- Temporary modular churches
- Permanent modular churches
Each of those options will be suitable in many different situations. But in the sections below, we’ll look at a few of the most important details of these two modular church categories.
Temporary modular churches are not as long-lasting as their permanent counterparts. But they are an excellent option when you are on a tight budget and you need to add space quickly.
Lease and Co-op Options
You can choose from several options when acquiring a temporary modular church. Typically churches will choose to lease, lease-to-own, join a co-op, or buy a temporary building.
Every lease agreement will be a little different for a temporary modular church. In most cases, you’ll need to pay a recurring fee to keep your lease active, but a lease allows you flexibility.
A co-op can also help you save money. Churches often partner with local schools or organizations to lease a temporary building together.
Estimated Length of the Church’s Life
When you choose a temporary modular church, you can expect it to last for several years.
Permanent modular church buildings typically have more durable materials that allow them to last for several decades. This option is best if you are able to pay a bit more upfront for a church with a better appearance and lifespan.
Financing a permanent modular church is like financing any other addition you might make to your property. Often, you’ll be best off seeking a conventional construction loan.
Estimated Length of the Church’s Life
Unlike a temporary modular church, permanent modular churches last much longer. They can often survive in good condition for several decades.
Why Modular Church Buildings?
Now that you know the fundamentals of what a modular church is and the two main varieties that are available to you, it’s time to address why modular church buildings are worth getting in the first place.
The top reason to use a modular church is speed. The setup time for modular churches is much shorter than the time it takes to construct a traditional building. So if you are in need of more space for your congregation and you need it soon, the quick and easy construction process that comes with a modular church is what you need.
In many scenarios, it can take just 90 days to complete the construction of a modular building. Compare that to a traditional building, which can take several months or even years in some cases.
When you choose a modular building, most of the waiting you’ll need to do relates to the time it takes to make and ship your building. The more customization you need and the further away your provider is, the longer it will take to get your modular church. But even with those factors in play, it is still much faster to choose a modular building over a traditional one.
Compared to standard construction practices, modular buildings tend to offer a few environmental perks. For instance, modular buildings often cut down on construction material waste and can require less travel during the construction process. That reduced vehicular movement leads to fewer harmful emissions and an overall cleaner building sequence.
The process for constructing a traditional building is highly standardized but will vary greatly depending on the design and the site on which the building is built. Modular home construction, on the other hand, is far more uniform. The companies that make the best modular buildings are skilled at creating consistent, high-quality buildings every time.
As we have already alluded to, one of the top benefits of a modular home is flexibility. In many cases, you’ll have some say in where each module sits and how it attaches to the others. Modular buildings tend to give you plenty of design customization options as well so that you can know you’re getting precisely what you need.
Customization for modular churches will include different options for the interior features of your building and the outdoor appearance. You’ll get to select the materials, colors, and main components of your building, along with many other features. Overall, that increases the chances that you’ll get a modular church that is unique and meets your individual needs.
Modular buildings may not be as long-lasting as traditional buildings, but they often make up for that lack of longevity by being highly affordable. The main reason why modular construction is cheaper is that it is quicker, leading to shorter project completion times and significantly lower labor costs.
More Favorable Depreciation
This is one of the lesser-known advantages of modular buildings, but it is one worth being aware of. Modular buildings have a much more favorable depreciation than conventional buildings. For a quick comparison, while the conventional depreciation period for a building is 39 years, for a modular building, that period shrinks to seven years.
Pros and Cons
While the many reasons to get a modular church building are compelling, these buildings are not the best option for everyone. The fastest way to know if a modular church is right for you is to review the top pros and cons of using one.
Here’s a quick summary of the top pros for modular church buildings:
- Quick construction: Modular buildings are easy to build, making them the best option if you want a lot of space right away.
- Lower cost: Since modular buildings don’t take long to build, they also cost less to build due to the lower labor costs.
- Sustainable construction: Construction with modular homes often leads to fewer harmful emissions.
- Customization options: With many modular buildings, it is easy to arrange and customize each module.
Although there are plenty of reasons to purchase a modular church building, there are some cons against that choice as well. Here are the top ones:
- Shorter lifespan: Although some modular church buildings are permanent, these structures don’t typically outlive traditional buildings.
- Size restrictions: Most modular church buildings are relatively small compared to traditional churches.
How Much Does a Modular Church Cost?
If you have reached the conclusion that a modular church is the right choice for your congregation, it’s time to make some practical considerations. Most importantly, you’ll need to figure out how much it will cost to get the modular church you want.
Prices range anywhere from $50,000 on the lower end to well over $200,000. To estimate your costs, consider two main contributing factors.
As you would expect, size is one of the main determiners of a modular church’s overall cost. Often, you can find prices per square foot for modular buildings in your area. Naturally, as that square footage rises, so does the cost of building each module.
As you shop for modular church buildings, you’ll come across a few predetermined sizes. Many of these buildings will have lengths and widths that are around 60 to 80 feet.
Use those dimensions to determine the square footage and get an accurate estimate of the price. An average price for this size is between $80,000 and $90,000.
Quality of Materials
The next most important cost factor for modular churches is material quality. For cheaper, temporary modular churches, you can expect to find construction materials that are equally cheap. Materials that are stronger look better and last longer may cost significantly more.
Modular building materials generally cost between $5-$15 per square foot. The larger the building, the more reasonable the price per square foot.
Modular Church Options?
Modular churches come in many forms. You can either choose one that’s a standard size or customize your own space.
As you search through modular church options, you’ll soon realize that there are choices that come in many different sizes. Regarding width, these buildings typically range from 24′ to over 100′.
Lengths for modular churches are similar to widths in that they can also vary, but not often to the same degree. Modular church building lengths often fall between 60′ and 90′. Use the length and width of the church you’re considering to find out how much square footage you’ll be getting. Remember that you will usually have the option to attach multiple modular buildings to increase your usable area inside.
One of the most notable differences between a modular building and traditional construction methods is that modular buildings are much shorter. While a traditional building can have many stories, modular buildings typically have a single floor. The exterior height of a modular building typically reaches about 13′ total.
One of the most valuable aspects of modular construction is that prefabricated buildings are easy to make and ship repeatedly.
Part of the reason that modular buildings are so easy to ship is that they often come in simple shapes that are manageable for those responsible for shipping. Having a more uniform shape and size makes storing and moving a module a relatively simple task.
If modular churches came in a wide range of heights, it would be much more difficult to move them from the factory to your site. That’s why nearly all modular church buildings will consist of a single story. While you won’t get an impressively tall spire on a modular church, the lack of height that these buildings have is part of what makes them so convenient to create and use.
The best way to get the most out of your modular church building is to have it made based on a custom design. While custom designs will invariably cost more than one that is predetermined, that added cost may be worth the benefit.
Custom designs are especially helpful for those who have searched through some churches with premade configurations and found nothing that works well enough for them. If you’re in that situation, a custom design may be the only way to get a modular church that meets all the distinct needs of your congregation.
For example, some churches may need a larger stage area with a baptismal, choir section, and more. Some churches only need a few extra rooms, while others may need a space for multiple Sunday School classrooms, a nursery, a youth room, offices, and more.
When you use a custom design, your modular church provider will work with you to pick the specifics of several essential features of your new building. You’ll get greater control over the sizing and layouts of your rooms to ensure that they fit the way you intend to use them.
You’ll also have the chance to consider different options for elements like lighting and acoustics. Although those features don’t contribute to the structure of the building itself, they will go a long way in making it pleasant to spend time in your modular church.
Previously, we mentioned that most modular churches come in preset sizes, most of which are on the shorter side. However, there are some exceptions to that general rule when you opt for a custom modular church design. While you cannot expect to build a modular church that rivals tall buildings, you can get your new building to soar a bit higher than a single story.
Overall, custom design for modular churches may take a bit more time, money, and effort on your part, but the results are worth it. The best way to make the design process run as smoothly as possible is to find a team with the right expertise to guide you during each decision.
Although the interior of your church is where most of the activity will take place, the exterior is incredibly relevant as well. The way your church looks on the outside dictates how nicely it fits alongside the existing features of your church grounds.
The exterior appearance of a modular building is not usually one of its strongest selling points. In fact, it is common for people to hold the belief that the prefabricated nature of modular buildings ensures that they are destined to have an unattractive appearance. However, that is not always the case.
It’s true that a traditional form of construction will give you greater options for details and stylistic options for the outside of your church. But you might be surprised to find that many modular church buildings are highly attractive in their own right. At the very least, there is no reason that your modular church building needs to be an eyesore on your property.
Modular or “prefab” buildings typically have exteriors of cheap, sturdy steel. Most of us think of that bland steel exterior. However, most companies will give you the option to add siding of various materials, including wood, affordable masonry, stucco, and more.
You should take extra time in deciding the appearance you want your modular church to have. Varying the number and types of windows your building has and choosing different colors and materials will have a big impact on how approachable your modular church looks to visitors.
Some modular churches also include components such as vaulted ceilings and porticos, each of which can help make a modular church look a bit more visually pleasing. Again, keep in mind that custom designs will give you more flexibility here but will likely be more expensive.
Foundations are as important for modular buildings as they are for any other kind of building. A good foundation is vital for holding your building up and helping it last longer, even in the face of wear and tear.
Generally, modular homes need to sit on one of two foundation types.
To construct a modular home correctly, you’ll need to build either a full basement or a crawl space first. Each of those foundations should also have an engineered concrete slab to ensure long-term stability.
There are also multiple ways that a modular church can attach to its foundation. In some cases, builders may need to connect your modular building to the foundation via a permanent metal chassis, while others simply sit on top of their foundations.
Additional Factors to Consider
By now, we have covered a lot of the most vital information related to modular church buildings, and you should have a decent understanding of how to shop for one. However, there are a few additional evaluations you should make before you make your purchase.
What many fail to recognize is that the land on which a building sits can influence the design of that building as much as anything else.
If you have multiple properties where you could place your new modular church, you should evaluate each one carefully to find out which one will make for the best construction process and final product.
For those who know what site they will put their building on, you need to remain selective in choosing the precise location of your church. Think of how people will access your new modular building and consider functional aspects such as utility lines as well. Planning your site location in advance is one of the best ways that you can make sure that your modular church is easy to access.
Shipping is another serious consideration you need to make before you embark on your journey towards building a new modular church building. As you might guess, the further away your prefabricated building supplier is, the more it will cost to have your modules shipped to your site.
Try to find a provider that meets all your needs and is close to your building site. That way, you won’t need to worry about your shipping costs offsetting the overall savings you’re getting by choosing a modular church.
The degree of complexity your modular church has will also be something worth considering before you begin construction. A modular church that is more complex will usually cost more to build and take longer to construct.
Complex custom-designed modular churches give you great control over the look and use of your building, but they can be somewhat of a hassle to build. Simply put, the more details and small features your modular church includes, the more difficult you can expect the construction process to be.
On the other hand, a church with a simple design may not be as flashy in appearance or as accommodating inside, but it will be much easier to build. Such a church is also likely to cost less as well.
Complexities can also arise from the site itself. There are many scenarios in which the features of the landscape can make a construction process more difficult. If you are working with limited space or an otherwise difficult site, that will only make the project more challenging.
We recognize that modular churches are a new concept to many worshippers. As such, people often have a lot of questions about them. To help you broaden your understanding of what a modular church can be, we’ve included answers to some of those most common inquiries.
Do All Modular Churches Look Alike?
One common claim about modular buildings is that they often look quite similar. While many providers do offer customization options, they are generally limited compared to the design features a traditional building could have. Part of the reason for that lack of detail is to keep modular churches quick and easy to prefabricate, which keeps these churches affordable.
Do Modular Churches Look Temporary?
Whether a modular building looks temporary will mainly depend on its materials. For instance, modular buildings that are made of materials like wood plain unfinished wood will look temporary and likely are. Others that consist of stronger materials or those with a more refined finish are more capable of achieving a permanent look.
What Factors Should I Consider When Choosing a Modular Church Supplier?
The best modular church suppliers will pair expertise with fantastic customer service. Look for a supplier that is willing to understand the aspects of your project that makes it different than any other.
You’d also be wise to prioritize modular church suppliers with a strong reputation for quality and reliability. Once you’ve found the companies that meet those standards, finding a product that will work well for you should be no struggle at all.
How Is Modular Construction Different From Traditional Construction?
In modular construction, all major building parts, known as modules, are made ahead of time. In traditional construction, the building is assembled on-site by the construction team. Modular construction is often faster and more cost-effective because it is easier to complete.
What’s The Difference Between Modular Churches and Prefab Churches?
Most of the time, those who refer to modular churches and prefab churches are generally speaking about the same thing – a building or component of a building that is made in advance and off of a construction site. However, there is some slight distinction between these terms.
Mainly, prefabricated buildings are a bit more of a catch-all term referring to both buildings and building components. On the other hand, modular buildings often indicate a more complete unit that is far more ready to install without additional setup. A complete room or wing of a building would be an example of a modular building in this case.
How Long Does It Take to Construct a Modular Church?
The length of time it takes to complete the construction of a modular church will depend on several factors. As an example, if you are building a modular church from a custom design, the initial module prefabrication phase will take longer.
With that said, as long as you are using a modular church supplier that is near you, the process of installing your modular church on your church ground will be much faster than nearly any other option. While many traditional construction projects can take months or years, modular building construction is more likely to take several weeks.
Can a Modular Church Be Eco-Friendly or “Green”?
Choosing a modular church is an eco-friendly option compared to constructing a building on site. The top reason for this is that modular building construction creates much less waste than conventional construction. In some cases, modular construction can reduce construction waste by 90%.
That reduction means that fewer construction materials go to waste and that there are fewer construction byproducts that affect the environment surrounding the site. Overall, this leads to a modular building being one of the greenest approaches you can take.
Do Modular Church Buildings Come With Bathrooms?
Bathrooms are a common feature of modular church buildings. As is the case with just about any other type of room you might need, including a restroom in your modular church is easy to do.
Modular building suppliers are well aware that restrooms are an important part of any building. That is why they will give you plenty of options for the type of bathroom you want to include in your church. In many instances, you’ll get the chance to choose the size, shape, and details of the bathroom you include.
Why Do Organizations Buy Modular Churches?
The primary reason that organizations build modular churches is to provide enough space for their congregation to worship and carry out any other church activities. In some scenarios, a congregation may already have a usable church, and they only need an extra building to host church community events or outreach projects.
Other times, a congregation may have no church at all and not many resources to get one. Modular churches are the ideal solution in either case. But regardless of why you want a modular church, to get one, you’ll need to know who to contact for assistance.
Who Should I Contact If I’m Interested in a Modular Church?
After reading this modular church building buyer’s guide, you may be well convinced that buying a modular church is right for you. If that is how you feel, your next step should be to find a modular church supplier near you.
The best company for you to choose is one that specializes in modular church designs and is relatively close to where you’d like your church to be. Such a company will be ready to give you the modular church of your dreams in the most convenient possible way.