Adaptive Reuse

November 07, 2022

South Coast Improvement is a leading construction company that is well heeled in the practice of adaptive reuse.

Our Adaptive Reuse Projects Include:

  • Conversion of a 19th century hospital into a boutique hotel
  • Conversion of an 18th century mill into luxury senior apartments
  • Converting an award-winning turn of the century office building into market rate apartments

We have also had great success in the conversion of abandoned skilled nursing facilities into senior living facilities. In fact, when reviewing our portfolio of projects, over 50% of our work can be considered adaptive reuse projects.

Adaptive reuse is a construction practice that has the following advantages:

  • Being more cost effective than building new
  • A faster pre-construction process
  • The ability to receive state and federal funds to offset construction costs

As our cities and towns get older, both private and public entities are looking for ways to encourage developers to repurpose the existing inventory of buildings rather than build new.

In today’s construction market, it is often more cost effective for the developer to purchase an existing structure and its land than it would be to develop a new site. The volatile costs of raw materials coupled with new green building practices are driving up the cost of new construction. Green building practices that are environmentally conscious are what is best for our country, however, they can make the project too cost prohibitive.

Changing the use of an existing structure can be far less cumbersome than going through the hurdles of zoning board reviews and city planners. Municipalities are motivated to revitalize abandoned structures within their communities. Adaptive reuse construction works within the existing foundation, core and shell, which greatly reduces the overall time period of construction.

State and federal funds allocated for affordable housing construction are examples of the government incentives for adaptive reuse. Historical tax credits are another way to offset construction costs. Securing these funds can be a lengthy process that typically takes up to a year.

Working within the existing structure is a challenge to adaptive reuse design. “Making it work” is a challenge to design teams and engineers. Understanding the condition of the existing utility systems and understanding the demands of the new space is the first task for the engineers. Distribution paths of MEP systems and coordination of existing conditions require extensive pre-construction work.

It is our opinion that the design-build methodology works best in this type of construction. The collaboration of the trade contractors and the design professionals working towards achieving the design intent during the pre-construction process is what works best for adaptive reuse. Often times it is the working practical knowledge of the trades that can assist design teams with the challenges they face while designing within an existing structure.

The competitive bid model in adaptive reuse construction, where the sole focus is on plans and specs, leaves the developer exposed to rising costs throughout the project. Without extensive investigatory front work, there will be multiple unforeseen conditions that are very difficult to capture in the planning and development phase.

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