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Company Finds Niche as Church Builder

Wed April 19, 2000 - Southeast Edition
Giles Lambertson

J.H. Batten Construction Co. didn’t set out to build churches as a specialty. It has just worked out that way.

The Walkertown, NC, firm has six church buildings under construction and the patriarch of the firm, Harold Batten, said the company indeed builds more churches than anything else.

That is, the company builds more churches than any other single category of building. Church projects account for only about half of the company’s $20 million a year volume of commercial work.

One of the church projects is in Sanford, NC, where Jonesboro United Methodist is adding an adjacent fellowship hall. The $1.25-million job got under way in early November and is to be finished in nine months.

Barring unexpected developments, that is. One such development came to light when the Batten crew began to excavate the site and came across buried debris. It turns out the location formerly was occupied by Jonesboro School, one of the early anchors of the Jonesboro community area of Sanford.

The extra work required to stabilize the site added a few weeks to the construction schedule. A record-breaking snow that swept the state in late January covered poured foundations and delayed the project a few more days.

When building resumed, however, the building began to take shape.

It sits on the west side of the principal house of worship, connected to it by a drive-through walkway. The pad for seven classrooms, a kitchen and a fellowship hall will consume 190 cubic meters (250 cu. yds.) of concrete.

The main hall of the new building will feature exposed laminated wood beams that taper from floor to the peak of the ceiling. The 1,650-centimeter (55 ft.) long beams are supplied by Unit Structures of Morrisville, NC. Brown and Sons of Stewarts Draft, VA, will bring in equipment to erect the beams.

Most equipment J.H. Batten has on the job is rented from the Fayetteville office of United Rental. Batten prefers to rent equipment at outlying sites and use its own inventory of machines on projects closer to home in the Triad, which is the Greensboro, Winston-Salem and High Point area of the state.

Outlying sites, incidentally, include commercial projects in Charlotte and farther away yet in Florida.

The Sanford church building incorporates a variety of building methods. Besides laminated beams, it also contains metal stud walls, some steel structure and wood trusses. Steel erection is done in-house.

A brick veneer exterior will tie the building to the brick-veneered main church structure.

Mullins-Sherman of Sanford was the architect for the project. However, J.H. Batten does “quite a bit of design-build work with customers, cutting corners where they want, making changes when they want,” said Harold Batten.

The 10-year-old company is owned by David Batten. The owner’s father, Harold, had his own construction firm for 16 years before joining his son’s new firm. A third generation of Battens, Harold’s grandson, J.H., also works with the company.

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