Renovation vs New Construction – What Commercial Businesses Need to Consider

Renovation vs New Commercial Construction Alberta

As a commercial enterprise seeking to take advantage of the new economic growth in Central Alberta, you’re either ready to renovate for expansion or break ground on a new building. This is no easy decision, as while the latter requires more capital expenditure, it can also lead to significant financial gain in the long run. In order to help move your decision making process along, we have provided some key considerations that come into play.

6 Things Your Commercial Business Needs to Consider When Deciding Between Renovation and New Construction

1. Alberta’s Updated Building Codes

Building codes are constantly changing, and when you’re in an old building, it can be hard (and expensive) to keep up. This is certainly a reality in Alberta. Last month,  the province issued a release referencing planned updates to energy efficiency codes. The newest edition of the energy code, which is currently based on the 2011 National Energy Code for Buildings (NECB), will be updated to the 2015 national code edition, including the 2017 interim changes to the NECB. If you are operating in an older building or are thinking about taking over one, and plan on renovating, you need to take a good hard look at how much it’s going to cost you today and tomorrow to keep up with the updated (and updating) codes. It may be in your best interest to build anew.

2. Can You Afford to Wait for New Construction?

If you are currently running a business from within a brick and mortar, you may be able to perform a renovation and/or retrofitting without significantly disrupting business. For example, Apple Building Systems completed a complex project for Rocky Credit Union (in Rocky Mountain AB) which included adding an entire second floor to the existing building, while simultaneously remodeling the basement and main floors. All of this was accomplished as Rocky Credit Union continued to conduct its day to day business.

Those of you who are not prepared to take the financial hit of closing up shop while transitioning from one building into a newly constructed one, may have found the answer here.

3. Location, Location, Location

The location, location, location mantra is definitely not cliche when it comes to commercial business success. Businesses may consider a renovation as a means to increase customer/client traffic flow, but it’s time to be honest about why things may have slowed down. The location may not be what it used to be. It won’t matter if you expand square footage or update wall and floor finishing if sustainable economic growth has come to a screeching halt in one community.

Take note of where new building permits are being issued and keep your ear to the ground with respect to new residential developments and population migration trends and the like. You may find that while new construction may cost much more, it will be much more lucrative to build where your customers will be in the future.

4. Structural Integrity and History

This may be a crude analogy, but you must consider a building in the same manner that one does when buying a used car. For instance, CARFAX is a comprehensive vehicle history database that looks at items such as accident history, structural/frame damage, repair and maintenance records, and regulatory compliance. You can see where we’re going with this. An older building has history, and every flood, fire, break-in, pest infestation and inadequate repair may have taken its toll on the structural integrity of the property. Dig up all possible records regarding past incidents, upgrades, and renovations and consult with a commercial builder (Apple Building Systems for those in Central AB) to determine whether or not the structural integrity can be kept intact after a comprehensive renovation. This can be a deciding factor between a renovation and new construction.

5. Intended Use

If you’re taking over an older building, or plan on offering a new type of commercial service, the intended use may reclassify the occupancy of the building. In addition, the new intended use may not comply with existing property zone laws and building codes. There are also other variables to consider, such as the fact that current utilities may not serve your new and more robust needs. If new commercial intentions and aspirations make for a very costly renovation, new construction may be a more viable alternative.

6. Going Green

While directly related to Alberta’s energy efficiency codes addressed in item #1 above, the concept bears repeating here. If your commercial enterprise has aspirations of operating within a more energy efficient building, you will need to look at whether or not a renovation/retrofit will accomplish that goal to satisfaction. For the most part, a renovation most certainly can. New cladding installation and re-roofing can have a direct and positive impact on energy expenditure. It can help you not only accommodate new energy efficiency codes, it will reduce your monthly utility expenses in the process.

However, some modern commercial enterprises are seeking to approach NetZero status. In this case, new construction may make more sense, as a builder would consider insulated concrete forms, solar paneling, and other effective green building initiatives.

There is no correct answer here. The case for renovation or new construction is strong on both sides. But one thing can be stated with certainty – you should not have to make this decision alone. By consulting with a professional builder with vast experience in both commercial renovation and new construction, you will receive expert advice on which direction you should proceed in, while gaining a partner that will see your project through to successful fruition. If you’re setting up shop or expanding your commercial business interests in Central Alberta, that partnership will be found with Apple Building Systems. Contact us today.

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