When Is the Best Time to Retrofit a Building?

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Like human bodies, buildings, from homes to skyscrapers, will eventually grow old and weary. At some point, they will need more than a facelift; they will demand a retrofit. The question is when.

What Is Retrofitting?

Before this post answers the question, let’s clear one of the common misconceptions about retrofitting. Usually, people confuse it with renovations, refurbishment, or restoration. They seem to use these terms interchangeably.

But they don’t carry the same meaning:

  • When you retrofit, you are likely adding new elements into the original design. The reason can vary, such as improving its integrity or durability or enhancing its energy efficiency.
  • A renovation or refurbishment happens when you redecorate, clean, or re-equip a space or building.
  • You are restoring a structure when you want to bring back its original state.

Despite these differences, they can still be interrelated. For example, renovation projects can involve retrofitting. During the restoration process, you might also need to retrofit the structure and renovate the interiors.

When Is the Best Time to Retrofit?

Retrofitting can be a time-consuming and pricey endeavor, so you need to plan it well. This way, you give yourself enough time to raise funds, hire contractors, and foresee the project. But when is a good time?

1. It Depends on the Assessment

Owners need to have their structures checked regularly to ensure they continue to follow the building codes. Further, they remain safe and sound.

But because building guidelines can differ between states, work with a local expert. For example, if you’re in Oregon, hire a building commissioning company.

What does a building commissioner do?

  • They review all the building designs from HVAC to electrical systems.
  • They ensure the installation process was correct.
  • They see to it that the building was built according to its purpose.

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Based on their assessment, they can recommend whether the building already needs retrofitting and suggests the essential changes you should carry out. They can work with other contractors in every stage of the project.

2. Check the Building Codes

Oregon introduced its state-wide building code in 1973. If your structure already existed before this year, it’s high time to get it retrofitted so that it complies with the provisions of the law.

Note, though, that states can also adopt other building codes. For example, the same state is now following 2018 international mechanical, fire, and residential codes. Moreover, every county or city can add more to the guidelines.

3. See if the Structure Is Still Sound

One of the reasons for retrofitting is to improve the integrity of the structure. It won’t crumble when there’s an earthquake or a strong hurricane.

According to the Cascadia Region Earthquake Workgroup, Oregon and Washington already recorded over 15,000 earthquakes since 1970 with a magnitude of 1 to 6. Meanwhile, the region feels at least 15 quakes annually.

If you notice cracks in the buildings before or after a quake, call experts to investigate it. They can determine whether these are superficial or structural.

Retrofitting is the best step to take if you want to preserve a building and extend its lifespan. To know if it’s time, get ideas from the experts.

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