For instance, a recent experience we had while constructing a church sanctuary, taught me that I needed to re-think some things I have learned over the years regarding constructing buildings.
Structural steel was, and still is, a cost effective way to construct a large volume interior space. However, few church congregations will accept a painted steel structure as the finished ceiling of their church. This means the contractor must construct some kind of ceiling in addition to the roof structure. This is not an inexpensive task if the desired ceiling is to be a high cathedral ceiling constructed of drywall or plaster, for it requires the use of a lot of expensive scaffolding and it is very labor intensive.
Suppose you construct the building of wood structural members which are pre-finished instead? These types of church sanctuaries were once common in the US, until steel became relatively inexpensive in the latter half of the 20th Century. As a result, steel became almost a default building material for this type of structure, especially in the great plains where forests are pretty much non-existent. So what has changed?
Steel prices have gone up dramatically in the last 10 years with increased demand in the world market, primarily from China. Wood has gone up as well, but not as dramatically. Consider that with this type of wood structure, often called glue laminated structures, what you are using for the structure becomes the ceiling too.
To some people's eyes, including mine, the inside of a wood structure is much more warm and inviting than a drywall, plaster, or acoustic tile ceiling. So, when we were able to save St. Bernard's $100,000 and still give them a beautiful building, we not only found a solution to save them money it was also a very attractive solution. At least this is my opinion. You be the judge.
Director of Marketing