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Aspiring Developers Guide to Adaptive Reuse


Adaptive reuse is repurposing an existing building for a new use in commercial real estate. In practice, this is accomplished by renovating an existing structure for a new purpose rather than demolishing and rebuilding. While adaptive reuse occurs in various settings, it is more popular in urban locations because space is limited, and buildings are more likely to contain unique architectural details that should be conserved.

What distinguishes adaptive reuse from historic preservation?

While historic preservation and adaptive reuse may sound similar, it is critical to remember that they serve fundamentally different functions. While they both require the repair of a historic building, their eventual goals are opposed.

On the one hand, historic preservation seeks to return a historic structure to its original state. On the other hand, an adaptive reuse scheme aims to preserve the historic property’s architecture while renovating the interior to meet current needs.

Typically, you’ll find these two construction approaches utilized in various settings. Historic preservation projects are typically implemented when a certain site or monument has historical value. Meanwhile, you’re much more likely to come across adaptive reuse projects in bustling downtown districts that may or may not have any historical significance. Still, space is currently necessary for daily life.

What are the advantages of embarking on an adaptive reuse project?

There are numerous advantages to choosing building reuse over new construction from a developer’s standpoint. For your convenience, we’ve listed the top advantages below. Take these considerations into mind before starting your next project.

Savings on expenses

The first and most important advantage of renovating an old structure rather than building a new one is that it can positively impact your bottom line. According to a 2017 article in Trade and Industry Development, choosing adaptive reuse reduces construction costs by 16%. According to the article, it also cuts overall construction time by 18%, which can help to reduce labor costs even further.

Tax advantages

However,adaptive reuse architecture firms in Portland, OR, who choose to undertake an adaptive reuse project may be eligible for additional tax benefits and those saved during the construction phase. In particular, the Federal Historic Tax Credit (HTC) provides a tax credit of up to 20% for the certified rehabilitation of historic structures.

However, it is important to note that, due to changes to the tax code in 2017, the credit must be claimed at a rate of 4% per year for five years. Before these revisions, the 20 percent credit could be claimed entirely once the project was completed.

Sustainability in the environment

The final key advantage of employing the services of adaptive reuse building developer Portland OR is that it is far more environmentally friendly than demolishing a historic structure and redeveloping the property. In general, adaptive reuse consumes significantly fewer building materials than new construction. Aside from reducing the environmental impact of the materials’ production, there is less carbon footprint connected with transporting those resources. Furthermore, less heavy machinery will be required, and less energy will be utilized overall because there will be no demolition.

What factors influence the selection of buildings for adaptive reuse?

While no one tried-and-true approach for identifying whether a specific building is a viable candidate for adaptive reuse, adaptive reuse architecture design Toronto often follows a similar set of steps when embarking on one of these projects. These are their names:

Conducting a condition evaluation of the existing structure

The current condition will determine whether it is a good candidate for adaptive reuse. Buildings that are vacant or in bad disrepair may be more expensive to rehabilitate than demolish.

Conducting a cost-benefit analysis

A cost-benefit analysis evaluates the financial consequences of renovating rather than demolishing and constructing a new structure in its stead.

Evaluating the redesign’s feasibility

Finally, the developer would most likely collaborate with an architect and a contractor to establish how viable the redesign is based on their aims for the space.

If all three criteria are met, there is a good chance that the building is a good candidate for adaptive reuse.


Most large cities’ urban cores now have a high rate of adaptive reuse. However, as cultural knowledge of sustainability and environmental effect grows, the chances are that it will only become more prevalent. To that purpose, the preceding text should serve as a primer on the fundamentals of adaptive reuse for aspiring developers. With this information, you should explore reuse for your next building job.

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