Exploring Church Construction

St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church from the Eye of the Contractor

By: John Martin, Vice President of Operations and Senior Project Manager

Traditional Roman Catholic Churches are designed to showcase the history of the Church, create unparalleled acoustics and display the beauty of ecclesiastical architecture, all while maximizing financial resources and keeping the focus on God. Achieving each of these elements makes construction challenging and requires a skilled team of building professionals.

RW Allen received a first place Associated General Contractors of Georgia Build Georgia Award for our construction of St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church in Grovetown, GA. The first place award was based on five criteria: exceptional project safety performance, overcoming the challenge of a difficult project, innovation in construction techniques and materials, excellence in project management and scheduling, and dedication to client service and customer care.

A challenge we face in many church construction projects is a lack of funding. Often times the parish’s vision of their future church is not possible with the financial constraints they face. In the case of St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church, RW Allen was able to suggest alternative construction methods and materials to maximize the church’s resources while preserving the integrity of the design. Our team used Building Information Modeling (BIM) to examine alternate structural systems an various building envelopes to determine the most cost effective construction.

The bell tower that is shown in the pictures, along with the cross, were initially designed to be custom built from footing to tip. RW Allen took an innovative step and contacted Campbellsville Industries to develop a pre-fabricated tower and cross. Campbellsville was able to construct the same exact look in their manufacturing facility. They delivered it to the project an used a crane to set the whole structure in place. This process generated a substantial savings for St. Teresa.

Additionally, the original design called for a true limestone facade on the interior of the building. As a cost savings to the owner, RW Allen introduced a Venetian Plaster System that would mimic the limestone Ashlar pattern. To make the system more realistic, after installation the subcontractor went back and physically cut joints in the system to simulate true stone.

In selecting a contractor for this type of project, it is important to select a team that works seamlessly with the entire parish. We wanted St. Teresa to be engaged throughout the construction process. Activities included not only the building committee, but all the congregation. RW Allen conducted project tours, helped create a niche under the altar for a time capsule, held scripture signings for the walls and slab and created a living rosary. RW Allen went the extra mile to keep our owners involved and content on the entire journey.

“The highest honor I feel you can say about anyone is that you trust them with everything, and I did just that. I trusted them with everything; to coach and guide us through this project which resulted in something I was personally very proud of.” – Jerry Baine, Building Committee Chair, St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church.


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