Renovation refers to the structural and architectural restoration of the whole or part of an existing building to modernise it or to maintain it in its current standing. It is generally applicable to historic buildings which are damaged and require maintenance to remain structurally sound. The renovation process generally entails reinforcing the existing structure by introducing new structural elements or replacing them where possible, and in architectural restoration, replace or restore the design elements such as paint and plaster and bring it as close to the original as possible. Renovating buildings is a vastly different subject area from constructing new buildings, and although many of the same professionals are involved, renovation requires a different skillset and experience not possessed by those involved in the construction of new buildings. This article describes the various aspects of renovating buildings, and factors to be considered when renovating buildings.
As mentioned above, renovation is significantly different from new construction projects and requires different skillsets. Many construction organisations focus more on building new structures and maintaining or renovating existing structures due to the increased complexity and limitations in the latter. Even a project that was relatively simple to build can be a complex renovation project as the renovating team generally will not have access to complete information and the act of renovation itself poses restrictions on the design team, as they are not adopting an existing design instead of creating their own. Therefore, organisations with dedicated resources for renovation projects such as Capital Building Renovations should be consulted for renovation projects.
Renovating a building may have additional legal considerations attached, especially if the building is historical or has heritage value. This is also applicable if such a site is in the area surrounding the renovation project as the excavations and other construction work may disturb the surrounding areas, which may require additional approval. Historic buildings may also have hazardous materials and materials that are heavily regulated or illegal in the present day. This requires additional care in handling and disposing of these materials and also places the responsibility of the safety of the construction crew as well as the surrounding people on the renovating team.
Prior to renovating a building, all the relevant information about its history, significance, and construction specifications should be gathered. If the building was constructed in relatively recent times, the state or local government bodies may have archives detailing the required information but if the building predates such census, it will be necessary to conduct a preliminary survey on the building itself to determine this information. This can be time consuming and expensive but can yield useful information, especially those that can be omitted from official records.
Renovating buildings is a resurging art, as the construction industry saturates and the focus shifts from building new structures to maintaining and renovating existing structures. Renovation is important as it allows us to preserve our heritage and construction methodology which is a significant facet of many cultures.