Ripple Effect of Poor Planning

As I mentioned earlier, it's time to replace our projectors. Earlier this week, we demoed some new Sanyos. They looked pretty good, an at 3 times the brightness, really outshone the existing 2Ks. But here's the rub. It started with the demo. The widest lens they had available was a 1.2. We can't fill the screen with a 1.2 because we only have 9-10' of throw behind the screens (9x12s). This was fine for the demo, we got the idea. But then we got to pricing. And here is where bad planning will comes back to haunt us.

Turns out a .7 lens is about $2,000 more than a 1.2. If we had an additional 4-5' of throw, we could save $4,000! When designing and constructing the building, that additional footage would not have cost anything (based on the existing floorplan). But here we are 10 years later, and it's costing us big time.

As we were talking about this after the salesman left, the facilities manager pointed out the lights up in the ceiling. It's about 65' to the peak. We have pews in the sanctuary. The only way to get to the lights (recessed can type) is to bring in a lift. But before we can bring in a lift, we have to remove pews—not an easy process. Even with the huge articulated lift, there are still several lights that they can't get to because of the balcony. For those, a ladder must be used, held straight up by ropes. Thus to change the lights in the ceiling, it runs about four thousand dollars. Had space above the ceiling been designed in, it could be done for next to nothing. Sure the current set up looks great, but had the building committee been told it would cost $4,000 to change the light bulbs every year, would they have pushed for another solution?

When the building was built, light bars were mounted above the stage to provide back light. Great idea as I really like back light. However we don't have any back lights. Seems that no one thought to run power, dmx, empty conduits or anything else up there. Add to that the aforementioned lack of access in the ceiling and we have some really nice white light bars that will never be used.

Our church is not unique in this arena. I see it over and over again, as have many of you. In my previous church, the front edge of the stage got moved back 15' at the last minute. This had the effect of putting the main speakers directly over the first row of seats. Which meant that the mains were missing the first five rows. That meant we had to add front fills, which added a level of complexity in terms of timing and voicing that never really worked well. Plus they were ugly and gave us fits when the pastor decided he wanted to preach from the floor in front of the stage (that's right, standing directly in front of the front fills). Oh, and the mains could not be moved back because the HVAC guys ran the main trunk lines right behind the speakers, so there was no place to fly them from.

One of my professors in college was fond of the saying, "Think it through..." I am reminded of that often. If you're in the process of building a facility, think it through. The system you put in next week will not likely be the last one in there (whatever it is). How easy will it be to change/upgrade/expand? How hard is it to change the light bulbs? Can components be accessed?

If you are upgrading your facility, what can you do to make future upgrades easier? Pull some extra wire, add another conduit, label the cables(!). When you buy new gear, think about how long it can be used, and how it will fit into the next upgrade plan.

This is painful for me to watch. If there is no one in your church with the expertise to keep an eye on these types of details, pay someone who will. Not the architect, or designer, or installer, or contractor. You need another set of eyes to say, "Hey, did you think about this?" I realize that in the middle of a building campaign, money gets tight, but consider the ripple effect of bad planning. A few thousand dollars spent up front will more than pay for itself over the life of the building. Promise me you'll at least consider it!

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