Have you ever wondered what the process is to build a Mormon Temple? First, Mormon temples are built using Church funds set aside for just that purpose and the Church pays for the costs without a mortgage or other financing. The church has had a long standing practice for over 100 years that they do not take loans or put mortgages on properties to build temples. In fact, the Church would not build a temple unless it could pay for the temple as it was built. Pretty amazing, right?!!!
The Church strives to provide opportunities for it's members across the globe to access it's temples. In fact, eighty-five percent of members of the church live within 200 miles of a temple, and temple sites are generally located in areas with enough members to warrant construction, or where great distances exist between temples. The Church announces new temples in General Conference and are made by the president of the Church.
Once a decision is made to build a temple in a certain area, the First Presidency prayerfully chooses the exact spot the temple will be built. This is a pattern that has been in place since the Church's beginnings. Just to give you an example, after entering the Salt Lake Valley in July of 1847, Brigham Young identified the block of land that the Salt Lake Temple was built on. Today members of the First Presidency spend several days visiting many possible sites for future temple locations. Those members of the First Presidency then return and make recommendations to the Church President of the spots where future temples will eventually be built.
After the site for a future temple is selected the Church then determines how large the building should be, based on the number of members in the area. Then a team of Church architects create potential exterior and interior designs. The purpose of each of the Church's 140 temples is the same in each location, but many aspects of each structure's inner and outer look and feel are uniquely tailored to the local people and area. Good architects want to create something unique, something that has its own personality, and Church leaders o allow the architects to do that with temples. Much can be done to make a temple unique, such as, decorative motifs, the kind of furniture, and the design. It could be anything from the modern look that you see in the Washington DC Temple, to something like the Gothic neoclassical look you find in the Salt Lake Temple. The design process can take up to two years, from architectural details, clear don to the colors and carpet swatches. The First Presidency is involved and provides all final approvals.
When selecting building materials, the Church settles for nothing but the best! The pattern used for the selection process is found in the description of Solomon's Temple in 1 Kings 7 in the Bible. They used the finest materials and the finest workmen to build the temple, and that is the pattern followed when the Church builds a temple. Not to be ostentatious, but to be beautiful in a wonderful tribute to God.
Because of the high standards for building temples, the Church sends our representatives across the world to search for the best contractors. The Church uses more that a dozen contractors, and the complexity of the temple design requires the very best that most workers have ever had to give on a project.
These Church representatives ensure that the construction companies are financially stable and able to meet Church regulations, which include; prohibitions against smoking, drinking, and loud music on the construction site, even though construction workers do not have to be Latter-day Saints. The church invites selected companies to the bidding process. Once a company is chosen, construction usually takes 24 to 48 months, depending on location.
For temple sites outside the United States, construction can take more time. In some countries, they may need to use more manual labor to do things that in the United States there might be equipment to do the work. Other circumstances besides just the temple site can slow down the process in some international areas, such as additional fees incurred by local governments.
Even though it can be challenging to find qualified contractors, the high bar is worth it for both the Church and the workers. Not only do temple construction projects supply jobs in local areas, they also provide what many construction workers consider the zenith of their careers. For example, a foreman of a concrete crew on one of the temple building sites here in the United States said, "I've never seen such a well-designed project, it will be here when mankind is gone."
High building standards are in place for two reason; first, Latter-day Saints believe their temples are among the holiest places on earth and tributes to God. Second, the Church build these temples to last hundreds of years.
Community leaders have referred to a temple building recently build in their community as "our temple". It is always a thrill to present a beautifully built structure and immaculately kept grounds, which are a source of pride for the local citizens. In fact, experience has shown that Mormon temples positively impact neighborhood property values, even in a bad economy. It just goes to show that a temple, normally becomes one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful, buildings in a community. It's only natural that, not just members of the Church, but all the members of the community generally are very pleased to have a temple in their area, and are happy to call these beautiful places, sacred places, even holy places, "OUR TEMPLE".