The Reuse Alternative: What’s the Point?

Kennith Bogan

Embracing adaptive reuse presents some resourcefulness over ground-up construction that’s gaining demand. Construction Today’s Bill Wilhelm notes the practice employed in multi-family, retail, office and larger-scale entertainment venues. What exactly does this entail?

The Basics

Without cutting corners, adaptive reuse gives new life to an old site or building for a usage separate from its original intention. A popular asset class seeing success with this goal is hotels. The rate at which a property can go to market has a much quicker pace in a reuse scenario, which means a few things:
• “Heads in Beds Faster”: There is an opportunity for revenue streams to offset construction costs sooner, pointing towards a healthier balance sheet.
• Cost Savings: Traditional ground-up construction is on average a 20% cost increase from adaptive reuse. The initial investment is less, allowing operators to gain a comparable result for a reduced financial backing.
• Labor and Material Protection: In in his article, Wilhelm acknowledges that “Labor and material costs change regularly. Sometimes, it is eye-opening to look back over historical data from prior construction projects to see how much the costs on certain materials rise or fall, depending on the timing. Compressing the construction schedule through adaptive reuse mitigates the risks associated with market upturns or downturns that affect labor and material costs.”

The Challenges

No construction project is perfect. Adaptive reuse is certainly not an exception. In the case of a building requiring site improvements by township/city code, there is often a hefty capital requirement that puts an owner in a circumstance where it may make more sense to demo and rebuild from scratch. Every situation is different, however there are countless structures where this notion does make sense.
In non-conventional locations or municipalities of lower populations, there is a stronger inclination for ground-up construction. Adaptive reuse becomes a bit more prevalent within areas of demand for the asset class and a shortage of suitable properties in the vicinity.

Depending on the factors influencing a project, there’s a good likelihood that adaptive reuse has the potential to be an attractive option in saturated markets. As saavy construction project managers value engineer at every stage, many recognize adaptive reuse as not only an opportunity to save money, but also cut out valuable time from a schedule.

Sources referenced:
Construction Today Magazine, Volume 16, Issue 3, Page 8, “Giving New Life,” Bill Wilhelm, 2018

About the Author:

JH Greene is a commercial general contractor and construction manager that pursues flexible construction solutions wherever feasible. Since 1974, we’ve been known for exceeding client expectations. Learn more at

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