Office-to-residential conversions are becoming increasingly popular and without question there is great potential for reusing redundant office accommodation as a way to plug the current housing gap.
When the Government announced new measures to make office–to-residential permitted development rights permanent (October 2015), property investors were quick to jump at the money-making opportunity and began transforming tired commercial buildings into prime urban real estate.
As a result, thousands of new homes are being created, while making the best use of existing buildings including some that are underused and neglected – and at the same time protecting the green belt.
SO HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT FINDING THE RIGHT PROPERTY?
Converting commercial buildings into residential developments can be an attractive prospect, but there are a few things to consider before launching into your own project. Firstly, find the right commercial property. Not every office is suitable for residential use.
Look for the usual attributes – a great location, access to all the desirable amenities including public transport, cafes, schools and arterial roads.
Select a partner such as CORE SPECIAL PROJECTS! It is a specialist area of project management and we have the right knowledge and experience in the sector and will provide support construction services that meet your brief.
THE CASE FOR OFFICE CONVERSIONS
Coinciding with an increase in residential values and a growing appetite for urban living, conversions have become viable and developers are increasingly responding to market demand.
However, inevitably there are considerable technical challenges in office-to-residential conversions – which are likely to add up to a significant per sq m cost. Typical post-war office blocks, with deep floor plates and solid concrete frames, are likely to require extensive modification to allow sufficient daylight and ventilation, as well as to incorporate more extensive drainage and service runs.
Offices with large windows and curtain walling may fall well below thermal requirements, as well as compromising tenants’ need for privacy, perhaps making a complete reclad the only option. Construction and design teams will also face issues related to sound transmission, fire protection and provision of outside space, depending on an existing building’s specific structure and location.
CORE SPECIAL PROJECTS works closely with clients from planning to completion, bringing together surveyors, architects and building inspectors when required to ensure our clients are quoted accordingly.
KEY COST DRIVERS
When considering the key cost drivers for a conversion scheme, it is worth considering the advantages when compared with a new-build alternative. For example, the time savings generated from having a reduced construction programme can have a significant impact.
The key cost drivers for a conversion scheme are likely to centre on the ability to use the existing structure and foundations and elements of the existing facade. If the structure is not particularly suitable for residential use, the cost and time implications of significantly altering an existing building may eliminate any perceived economic advantage over a new-build alternative.
Other key cost drivers worth considering are the services installations and the level of quality required from the finishes. In a conversion from office to residential space, it is likely that the central plant requirements will be reduced. This can provide opportunities to reconfigure space at ground floor/basement levels that can be used for other purposes, such as parking or residents’ facilities.
An early appreciation of the specific requirements of the target market will allow the overall design to be progressed with the ultimate purchaser/user in mind. As purchasers become more demanding in their requirements, any refurbishment project needs to be able to compete head-to-head with the attributes of a new-build scheme, otherwise the ultimate value of the development could be compromised.
In addition, schemes in key locations, which can accommodate well-designed space with high-quality external and internal finishes will be attractive not only to the requirements of funders, but also to investors.
THE FUN PART
Commercial properties, including offices, shops and warehouses, all have the potential to be transformed into contemporary living spaces. They may offer character and features that newer buildings can’t, making them attractive commercial investments. The cost of converting and renovating can vary hugely, so it pays to do the research and try to source information from comparable conversions.
Finding, converting and making money from a ‘commercial to residential’ project is not only possible, it’s exciting. It can bring out the character of a building and create something extraordinary.
So, make sure your refurbishment project goes to plan – and stays on budget – by using our expert construction project management service.
Our specialist construction project managers have years of experience. We will take full responsibility for ensuring your project is delivered on time and meets all necessary building regulations and quality standards.
CORE SPECIAL PROJECTS will also help you select and manage contractors – including architects, engineers and construction companies – ensure health and safety requirements are followed and providing you with the management information and reporting you need throughout.