Whether it’s refreshing décor, changing a building’s layout or repurposing a building, refurbishments are big business – but not without challenges.
In this blog, Dean Povey, commercial manager at national refurbishment specialist contractor Novus Property Solutions looks at just some of the common challenges posed by refurbishment projects.
Sustainability is a key driving force for many refurbishments – whether large or small. In many cases, existing buildings often use a greater amount of energy than comparative new buildings and a refurbishment is a good opportunity to improve the environmental impact of a building.
As a result, a key aspect of many refurbishments revolves around the building’s energy use and reducing this where possible. By installing better insulation, new heating and cooling systems or LED lighting as well as addressing its carbon omissions and air leakage and carrying out sound testing, it’s possible to reduce running costs and create a more sustainable, future-proof building.
Even a relatively small improvement in energy efficiency can equal a large cost saving year-on-year.
Incorporating upgraded energy-efficient facilities into an existing building more often than requires stripping everything back as far as possible. Careful planning and a full understanding of what the works entail from the start is essential.
Sometimes older M&E systems require modernising or replacing completely in order to make them compatible with new sustainable technologies. Checking detailed building plans, particularly in terms of where the existing services are located within the building will minimise the risk of coming across anything unexpected which would then delay the project.
Another challenge often encountered during refurbishments is the need to work around the existing floorplate and services to make the most of the available space in a cost-effective way.
When redesigning the interior of a building it’s important to consider the light, both from artificial and natural sources, so that the finished space doesn’t feel too dark or enclosed.
When it comes to working within historic or listed buildings it’s vital that materials used complement the heritage of the building and meet any specific planning requirements stipulated.
Where external works are being carried out, a fabric façade, which could be printed with an image of the building itself, is an effective way to hide any unsightly scaffolding and maintain the aesthetic appeal of the building during the refurbishment.
Older buildings may also throw up issues with access. On a recent major refurbishment project for a 10 storey hotel there were no existing internal lifts so Novus installed an external hoist and scaffold arrangement and took out one window on each floor to allow for access to all floors throughout the project.
On the same project, gaining access to some of the building’s external elevations proved so difficult that Novus employed the services of a specialist company, which used abseiling techniques to carry out the works without compromising the agreed schedule.
When it comes to refurbishments, there is also a greater likelihood of having to work within a live environment with contractors required to work sensitively around the building’s occupants, whether that’s hotel guests, schoolchildren, office workers or hospital patients to ensure that it continues to be business as usual.
By communicating regularly with the client, agreeing a programme of staged works in advance and working during off peak times, noise and disruption can be kept to an absolute minimum to ensure the refurbishment runs smoothly from start to finish.
Site safety and the safety of the general public must be paramount throughout any project, but especially for refurbishments in live environments where contact with the general public is much more likely.
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