When to Renovate, Remodel, or Rebuild Your Older Building


Older buildings have charm and character. But the passing years can take a toll. Exposure to the elements, along with wear and tear from tenant use, can affect your residential or commercial building’s curb appeal – and the rents you can command. Add in local code changes and improvements in energy efficiency, and your building might be behind the curve when it comes to both form and functionality. If that’s the case, you might be considering renovating, remodeling, or even rebuilding your property. Here’s what to know about each of these options.

Renovating: The Pros and Cons

Renovating is a cosmetic update of your building. Its goal is to restore your building back to a functional, aesthetically pleasing state – and in some cases, back to its original one.

The pros of renovating are:

  • Relatively minor and relatively quick
  • It doesn’t require architectural input
  • It doesn’t require extensive approvals and permitting processes
  • Often appropriate for historically significant buildings
  • Lower cost than remodeling or rebuilding

The cons of renovating are:

  • Might not bring building up to code – e.g., ADA compliance
  • Might not take advantage of the latest energy efficiency developments
  • Won’t deal with structural issues that will need to be addressed in future

Renovation can be a great choice if your residential, multi-family or commercial building is in good shape but needs some new life breathed back into it. Additionally, if your building is historically significant, this kind of low-impact approach increases the likelihood of approval from the relevant authorities.

Remodeling: The Pros and Cons

Remodeling takes renovation a step further and involves changing the structure or layout of your building. This might involve changing a single-family home into a multi-family home or remodeling commercial or retail building bathrooms or hallways to be ADA compliant.

The pros of remodeling are:

  • Can bring a building up to local fire or ADA codes
  • Can transform a building to suit modern-day usage
  • Grants and assistance might be available for historically significant or opportunity zone buildings
  • It can be affordable depending on the extent of the remodel

The cons of remodeling are:

  • The existing structure restricts the extent of the remodel
  • Older buildings can come with “surprises” that affect cost and timings
  • It might not be a possibility for structurally unsound buildings

If your older building needs a more extensive revamp – from removing interior walls to taking the building down to its shell – remodeling can be a great choice. But depending on the condition of your building, remodeling might not always be an option, and rebuilding might be necessary.

Rebuilding: The Pros and Cons

Rebuilding involves demolishing the existing structure and building something new in its place. You might choose to rebuild when the current building is structurally unsound, not appropriate for your intended use, or not keeping with the local environment. Rebuilding can sometimes be a more cost-effective option than extensive remodeling.

The pros of rebuilding are:

  • It gives you full control over the final outcome
  • It lets you take advantage of modern technology and materials
  • Allows you to change the size, format, and type of building
  • Can be the best option for a structurally unsound building

The cons of rebuilding are:

  • Typically, more expensive from start to finish
  • Typically requires permitting and approvals
  • Generally, takes longer than remodeling or renovating

If your building is structurally unsound or needs a ground-up remodel, rebuilding can be a great choice – and sometimes even the most cost-effective one.

Manders Can Help You Decide Whether to Renovate, Remodel, or Rebuild

If you have an older residential, multi-family, commercial or retail building in need of repair, talk to the experts at Manders. With a team of experienced craftspeople, we have everything it takes to ensure your project is a success.