Rehabilitation or Knockdown Rebuild?

Knockdown Rebuild or repair a building from the point of view of its structure. Historical, economic and technical factors

Now more than ever before, the reuse and recovery of existing buildings is a central issue. Until recently, it might even pay to tear down a building that was still in good use and put up a new one, even if it was just reconstruction. But not now, apart from the general consideration of the value of the built heritage, not only due to historical aspects or the non-monetary value of what has been built, but also as a basic economic question: take advantage of what already exists.

This approach inevitably leads to the question, when faced with an already built building that is intended to be reused, if it is really worth repairing or if it would not be better to Knockdown Rebuild. Let’s say that the second solution is ruled out if you decide to reuse it. But then the same question has to be addressed for each part of the building, or for each system of the building.

Is it worth restoring the facades or do we redo them? Is it worth preserving the warforged and reinforcing them or do we Knockdown Rebuild? Is the foundation valid or do we underpin and reinforce it? If we decide one or the other, by what criteria do we choose which parts are repaired and which parts are demolished and rebuilt? Well, the issue is not simple and basically depends on three factors.

The first, the intrinsic value of what has been built. In other words, it is not the same to have a historical or artistic heritage building in your hands as it is to have a simple old building. This is greatly influenced by cultural perception, where in many cases the old is confused with primitive construction with what is simply old and of poor quality.

Conversely, we all know many cases of buildings of great value that have been treated as mere useless ruins. The second factor is the direct economic one. If repairing something costs a considerable amount of money compared to Knockdown Rebuild it, it is clear that you will go the second way. The third factor is the technical one, which consists in determining if what exists,

The first factor requires a clear agreement about how to value something as old and large enough to be preserved at all costs. For example, most of the housing constructions in the consolidated centers of cities, except in more or less representative neighborhoods, built between the end of the 19th century and the first third of the 20th, are of very low material quality, from a point of view of the cultural heritage, except for its facades and its volumes, the rest does not deserve to be conserved from a point of view of preservation of heritage.

And many times these facades or volumes do not have anything special or appreciable, but they are an expression of the time in which they were conceived and their public value lies therein. We must entrust ourselves to the criteria and the sense of each intervener before a constructed building. The general culture, as in almost everything, usually helps not to commit abuses.

The direct economic factor is vital. We say direct because the economic repercussion of use and maintenance during the useful life of the construction, which is the indirect cost, is rarely taken into account. In the logic of a promoter who sells, the cheapest solution usually prevails, unless it can make much of the higher cost of another solution.

If there is awareness of such a thing, the buyers or lessors of buildings should lower their prices to the promoter, to compensate themselves in advance for the extra maintenance cost of a low-performance construction. But it doesn’t happen like that. Apart from this buying and selling logic, what is objective data is the assessment of the cost between two solutions that meet the same needs.

For example, Reinforcing a floor can be a simple, low-cost operation or something that requires special techniques, skilled labor and unconventional industrial materials. In the second case, the cost is usually very high and it may be worth deciding to Knockdown Rebuild a new slab. In both cases, a good result is obtained, and so the decision in favor of the cheapest is an obvious reason.

Entering the third factor, the technician, we must see that it is very directly related to the previous ones. If an entity or person must buy a building to restore it -to whatever extent-, we would advise you, before buying it and as a frankly affordable cost, to order a report from a specialist to be able to initially assess the state of the property and a study. of the land.

The first will make it possible to gauge the extent to which the property is reusable at little additional cost. The second is essential. That a beam is in poor condition, that the insulation system is defective, that the facilities are obsolete, are nothing compared to the fact that the land is not competent or, as often happens, after many years of having the construction on top of it, it has lost its ability.

The cost of Knockdown Rebuild is such that the cost of a report is minimal. If the building has to be preserved, through the report, we will know if we are dealing with something small, medium or really expensive. You have to think that without a foundation or without a roof, a building is irrevocably doomed to ruin.