A simple formula for land size

How much land will your church need?

Once your church has decided to expand or relocate, how do you know how much land to purchase? Is one acre enough? Two? Seven? Land is expensive and you don’t want to buy more than you really need. As a quick rule-of-thumb, consider these four factors: Parking, Buildings, Landscaping and Future Growth. Use these guidelines and simply add up the numbers.

Area for parking (P)

The number of parking stalls you’ll need is directly related to how many seats are in your main assembly space. Most municipalities require one parking stall for every 3 or 4 seats in the auditorium, but realistically it will be more like one stall for every 1.5 to 2 seats in the auditorium. One acre of land can accommodate 100 to 110 cars. For example: a 600 seat auditorium at two seats per stall and 100 stalls per acre equals 3 acres of land, just for parking.

Building area (B)

You won’t know the exact area of your building until it’s completely designed, but at this stage you can use some rough guidelines. If you plan to build an auditorium and separate gymnasium allow for 40 square feet for every seat in the main assembly space. For a facility with only a multi-use auditorium use 30 square feet of space per person. In our 600 seat example with separate gym, you’ll need about 24,000 square feet for the building, approximately half an acre, assuming the building is all on one level.

Landscaping and setback area (L)

Most municipalities require your building to be set back from the edges of your property so you don’t build too close to streets and neighbours. The exact distance will depend on your particular piece of property, but a quick Rule of Thumb to use is 20% of the total land area. Most municipalities also have minimum landscape requirements which can also add up to around 20% of the site area. To continue our example, 3.5 acres plus 2 x 0.7 acres = 4.9 acres.

Plan for future growth (G)

Obviously your church is growing, but will it stop after you move into your new facility? If you don’t plan for it, you could end up moving again soon after your new facility is built. So take into account future growth when you purchase your land, using the same Rules of Thumb as above. Another strategy is to buy more land than you’ll need, as it may be easier to sell a portion of it later than to buy an adjacent property.

Add it up

Simply add up each of the four areas and you’ll have a pretty good idea of how much land you’ll need. If you’re looking at steeply sloped land or an irregularly shaped parcel you’ll need to adjust your numbers accordingly.

Area = P+B+L+G

For help applying these Rules of Thumb to a particular property call Kelly or David at Parker Seminoff Architects or leave a comment below.

Conversion factors

One Acre = 43,560 square feet = 4046 square meters = 0.4 hectares

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