Purchase of Land by Charlie Daniels

Purchasing Land
by Charlie Daniels

Charlie Daniels RhemaCharlie Daniels is the President and CEO of Churches by Daniels. He has over thirty years of construction experience. As a pastor’s son, Charlie Daniels embodies the heart of a pastor. He knows the daily pressures that pastors have to deal with, and has a heart to serve them. That is what Churches by Daniels is all about. Each employee has to have that same heart in order to work here. From the top to the bottom we care about pastors and believe it is our duty and call to build churches.

Churches by Daniels is a full service construction firm offering construction management, general contracting, and design-build services. Their home office is located in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, however they build churches nationwide. For more information on them visit them on the World Wide Web at www.churchesbydaniels.com or phone them at (918)872-6006.

In My Experience…

I purchased some property one time for a storage facility that I wanted to build. I had ridden by it with the realtor, and I even had a civil engineer come out and mark it. We had plans drawn up, closed on the property, and built the building. We ended up leasing the facility for about 2 years, and we did very well with that. However, the time came when we were ready to sell the building. At the time we went to sell it, my lawyer called me and said that we did not own the land that the building was sitting on. Obviously, I was in utter disbelief because after all, we had been there for two whole years. “What do you mean I don’t own the land?!” I asked. My lawyer proceeded to notify me that we were not even on the right street. Apparently we had built a building on a piece of property that we did not own. How could we have built on this piece of property, rented it for two years, and nobody know that the land was not legally ours? Well this situation ended up working out because the guy, who owned the property that I had built on, actually had property adjoining the one that I was supposed to have built on. So we were able to work out a deal and dodge a major crisis. That was a drastic case, but those types of things do happen.

Church Experience

There was one ministry I was working with who had just finished building their facility. We went and did some final checking, and it turns out that they had built right through a power easement. We had to go through a lot of hurdles to get that easement released. I’ve also seen situations where churches have built too close to property lines and things of that nature. So those are the types of things that you need to be aware of.

I was involved in one ministry and they were looking at purchasing a piece of land – it was a $2 million dollar purchase – and I told them that they needed to check the wetlands and the easements. They were very excited about the property, but when they checked the wetlands, they found that it ran across the property in strips that made the land totally unusable for what they wanted. In addition, the land had several easements on it that made it unusable. So they would have spent $2 million dollars had they not checked with an engineer before they purchased the property.

Buyer Beware!

When purchasing property, beware! Make sure that you get engineers involved. Get all the knowledge you can, and see if there is anything that you do not know about what you are trying to buy. I’ve looked at property where they were trying to sell it and the price was good, however, what I didn’t know was that the state was going to be building a highway through it and they were going to condemn the property. So you will run into all kinds of situations like that. BUYER BEWARE!!

Location! Location! Location?

For a long time it’s been said, “Location! Location! Location!” However, I have seen from time to time that that is not necessarily true. I have seen churches, particularly from a friend of mine, which bought a location from a downtown area where people were moving out. On a Sunday, there was easy access and the members could be there from anywhere in town in just a few minutes. Over the years, things have been moving back into that area. If they would have initially moved out into an area where there was a lot of growth, it would have cost them a great deal more money. The church was bought for pennies on the dollar. They had bought an existing building, refurbished it, and it worked out to be an excellent deal for them.

When you do move out to these new locations, you pay a premium on land a lot of times, whereas by staying inside of an area, you can benefit from the structure of a town such as the parking. Anyway, that’s not to say that location isn’t a key thing. A lot of times there is a certain place you need to be. That’s where prayer helps! You should always have in mind that buildings should be in keeping with your surroundings. You see churches who will buy a nice piece of land, with really nice surroundings, and then they will place a big, metal building on the lot. This just causes you to make a spectacle of yourself, and that is something you would not want to do. On the other hand, out in a rural area, metal buildings work really nice. Just make sure that whatever you build is in keeping with your surroundings.

What to Be Aware Of

There is a great deal of regulations that churches must be aware of before they consider purchasing a piece of land. The single most important thing to do before you buy a piece of land is to hire a civil engineer to help with you understand all of the city regulations. On these regulations, you need to check all the easements. A lot of times you can buy a piece of land but you later realize that you have big easements running right through the middle of it, which ruins what you can build on it. There are even things like parking regulations that have to be considered: What are your parking regulations? How many people can you get on that piece of property? Then there are zoning regulations: Is it zoned properly? Then you have flood zones and wetland studies that need to be done. You also will need to make sure that there are utilities that go to your land. If there are not, you may have to put in a septic system, water system, or even a fire suppression system. This is a lot of work and it will cost a lot of money, but all of these things need to be considered.

In addition to complying with all government regulations, some places will require you to have extensive studies done, for things such as trees or endangered animals. For example: in southern Florida you would have panther studies or turtle studies and in Oklahoma it could be a beetle study or an owl study. Engineers will be able to help you with all of this, and they also will be able to help you do things like soil tests. This is where they would test for any contaminations that have been on that soil, which if found, would make you responsible for cleaning it up. Civil engineers can also help you come up with a “best land use” plan. Another term we use is “site-balancing” which is a good term for you to know. Site-balancing is when we look at the site to make sure there is enough dirt on it so that you do not have to bring in fill, or if there is sufficient dirt you will not have to take off a lot of fill. Either one can cost you a good deal of money. You want the site to balance or be as close to balanced as possible. You also want as much sheet drainage as you can get. Sheet drainage means that the water runs across the top of the land, rather than going into a piping system under the ground, with storm sewers.

Final Comments

Let me say this in conclusion, anytime you are at the point of purchasing land, you should begin utilizing all the resources you can. Time is an extremely valuable asset, so utilize all of the time that the civil engineer is taking to run tests and do studies. Focus on raising as much money as possible and creating a worthwhile project. Also focus on developing a good budgeting plan. Put some contingency in your budgets and in doing so, you will take some of the stress off of yourself. If you are running behind on every budget, and you are running behind on the purchase of your land, your people will get tired. You want your church family to always be motivated and encouraged with any project you may do. So, make sure you handle your money wisely and also make sure that you have enough money left over to have a celebration! Let your people win. The Bible talks about your children, and it says that we should not frustrate the grace that is upon them. We should have the same mindset with our parishioners. When you ask them to give to a project, make sure that it is going to succeed!


This article is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is shared with the understanding that neither the author nor Tony Cooke Ministries is engaged in rendering legal, accounting, psychological, medical or other professional services. Laws and regulations are continually changing, and can vary according to location and time. No representation is made that the information herein is applicable for all locations and times. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought.

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