Snapshot of a church remodel

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Kent Downey bolts a refinished pew into place in the First Methodist Church sanctuary.

Kent Downey bolts a refinished pew into place in the First Methodist Church sanctuary.

In order to ensure it could make the most of its remodel budget, the First Methodist Church board of trustees hired Second Opinion construction administrator Jim Smith to run the project.

So far, he has overseen key subcontractors, including Whitney Electric, Jean Sebben Associates, Western Services, Sperry and Mock Floor Covering and TECC Painting.

Like most church representatives, he had to help narrow a list of 30-plus projects to 11. The good news, he said, is that as the owner’s representative, he has kept each project on time and on budget — and each subcontractor gets paid within a few weeks of submitting an invoice, not always the case for companies hired by a general contractor.

“Best of all, we try to hire locally,” he said. “At least four of the companies are billing at least $150,000 as a result of our contracts.”

Western Services owners Tony Wells and Denise McMillon have supervised the repair and refinishing of the church’s sanctuary pews as well as the installation of new pew cushions and re-upholstered choir chairs.

“We’ve had to reinstall them, eight pews at a time,” Wells said. “And they had to be put back into place before each Sunday’s services.”

McMillon was impressed that Smith had insisted that all contractors be local small businesses.

“We’ve been in Colorado Springs for 50 years, it’s been a great gesture, to support local business,” she said, adding that designer Jean Sebben got each color swatch or paint color pre-approved by the church’s board before proceeding. “It was a six-month process, just for what we’re doing.”

Smith also has had to work with an unusual set of logistics that only a faith-community representative would understand.

“Our painters had to set up scaffolding and paint all the sanctuary walls and the 40-foot ceiling in phases,” he said. “Then before each Sunday they’d have to take it all down.  We’ve had six concerts during the work, but fortunately no funerals during the week we had all the scaffolding up in the middle of the sanctuary.”

Like many other churches, Smith said the First Methodist conducted a three-year campaign that raised about $3 million.

“Some of that went to repay debt service on the last construction they had done years ago,” he said, “but $1.7 million is paying for about three years’ worth of new projects.”