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The Choice Between Demolition or Reuse

EXCAVATION TIPS

Essential Factors Guiding an Option for Demolition or Reuse.

To better understand the actual factors leading to demolition or reuse, we asked the architects to develop the essential aspects that could convince this ‘demolition or reuse’ conclusion. The elements of  identified can be primarily divided into the observing three types:

Demolition or Reuse

Financial Returns.

Unsurprisingly, predicted economic returns on investment factored particularly into the decision-making procedure for every architect. 

While each interviewee recognized the rising extent of the ESG plan on their assignments and that morally, financial metrics were declining inconsequentiality, the final decision-makers (typically investors and committee members) were unlikely to support any refurbishment works without being offered with a clear financial business case.


One interviewee explained that, even though their organization had adopted multiple ESG principles for its strategies and assignments, financial metrics would still weigh in at about 40% of the final decision.

Demolition or Reuse

Building Risk.

Limited knowledge about the structure or constituent materials could impede the possibility of reuse from the balance. The interviewees emphasized structural safety as a critical factor underpinning the potential obsolescence.

The complete surveys needed to consider the level of danger in reusing an older construction might not permanently be financially feasible or possible within a project’s time constraints. One designer notably recognized that unexpected security issues usually occurred once the refurbishment assignment was underway.

This declined the motivation to believe in reuse in the project provided the increased administration expenses.

Demolition or Reuse

Change Levers.

With return on investment still fundamentally underpinning conclusions, the challenge is to sufficiently account for and quantify more intangible elements to incorporate reuse to broader ESG goals better and display the value of existing acquisitions. Switching market forces, climate stability embodied carbon, and social influence, amongst other aspects, can seriously affect the conclusion to reuse or demolish, with the possibility to swing the pendulum towards reuse in many cases positively. Interviewees recognized two different types where change levers could emerge to encourage reuse:

Knowledge and supply chain gaps

The interviewees consistently called for more transparent methods to determine and quantify the advantages of reuse. Other levers pointed to address details and supply chain gaps have:

  • Enhanced demonstration mechanisms (e.g., case studies) to demonstrate how weather stability can be achieved through refurbishment to create the chance to financial investors sufficiently; additional case studies show the most promising method comes to refurbishment and data on the business topic for them.
  • Clarity over how to reuse/circularity can support net-zero carbon ambitions and other ESG goals and reporting frameworks, e.g., SBTs, CFDs, etc.
  • More information and data on materials within existing constructions are raised through tools like material keys. This would allow the initiative to comprehend better problems enveloping warranty, security, and compliance with construction rules when undertaking refurbishment and material reuse. The digitalization of such information was believed to be critical to providing reuse at the end of a construction’s life cycle;
  • Enhanced technologies to complete material reuse more functional and avoid over-design; and,
  • It has improved training, skills, and understanding of refurbishment and adaptive reuse strategies.

Difficulty in comprehending possible security and quality problems when reusing existing structures and materials was arguably recognized as the necessary barrier restricting refurbishment. Interviewees admitted that although there is no straightforward method to manage this for our current construction stock, we should learn from the knowledge and identify this as an option to decode such issues in our new facilities by utilizing novel methods such as material passports. An action by market directors and government to encourage innovative technologies, such as using material exchange platforms like Master in the UK, could assist make a substantial demand shift.

Demolition or Reuse

Policy, Laws, and Reporting

The earlier phases of an assignment are essential for implanting reuse into its design and ethos, with the viability of reuse evolving increasingly complex as a project progresses. One standard method to enable reuse put forward by our interviewees was a necessity to display in planning applications why a building and its materials cannot be retained before permitting demolition.

 Shifting starting assumptions to assess all facilities from the same perspective can incentivize creation where otherwise demolition might have been the position quo. 

The significance of encouragements was also emphasized, with one interviewee mentioning that this would be preferable to rule. There are few incentives in the planning method to encourage architects to retain constructions.

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