With buildings and commercial structures that have been vacant for some time, there is always the question of how much is too much. Should you restore the building or demolish it? Believe it or not, many building and business owners go through this decision process. What do you have to think about when you are deciding between demolition and restoration?
Permission to Demolish
Before you consider demolishing a building, you have to check if you can get a permit to demolish the building. Permit requirements differ by city, so you have to check the local regulations.
In most cases, it is not an issue. However, if a building is classified as historic, you may not be permitted to knock it down to build something new. You can always contest the historic classification, but it is hard to prove and can be costly.
Cost to Restore
Before you decide to demolish a building, you should get an estimate on what it would take to restore the building. Unless you need a structure that is completely different from what already exists, restoration may be more cost effective. In your estimate, make sure to include any improvements you would include in the new building.
If there is major structural damage, the cost to restore may be prohibitive. Replacing structural elements can require tearing down much of the existing building just to get to the underlying structure. If your estimate comes back with a significant amount of structural replacement, you may just want to demolish and start over.
Total Cost in Stages
If the cost to restore is prohibitive, there is one more way to look at cost. With building from scratch, you have to pay to demolish and then pay to build. If you choose to restore, you may be able to restore a building in stages. Restoring in stages also allows you to pay in stages. Spreading out the payments can be very beneficial if you don't have the funding up front for a full rebuild.
You can also demolish in stages. You can remove portions of the building a piece at a time and restore those pieces. Also, you may be able to use the building even while the restoration is occurring, allowing you to generate income while you are restoring the property.
If a building was constructed many years, or even decades, ago, you need to check the boundary regulations, or setback. Boundary regulations dictate how close you can build to the edge of a property. If you find that you need more space than you are permitted to use, then you may be better off restoring instead of demolishing.
Choosing to restore or demolish can be a difficult decision. There are many cost factors that can make one or the other more attractive. Up front funding, regulations, demolition permits, and how you intend to use the building are all factors that can influence your decision.