Whether you are starting a new business or are expanding, finding the right space is essential. Depending on your location, there are may be many older and abandoned properties with historical value, loads of potential, and in need of a little TLC. These days, when city dwellers across the country are urging to keep downtown business districts alive, an older building may be the perfect fit for your business; particularly if the price is right.
Whether you love the clean lines on a Classical Revival building or are head over heels about the masonry construction and arches of a Romanesque Revival building, any old building you choose to renovate may require some work. Rather than feeling overwhelmed by your work in progress, look at your purchase as an opportunity to make your business stand out.
Much of an old building’s charm is visible on the outside, but in order to capture the original look on the inside, it may require peeling and tearing out layer upon layer of outdated building materials (such as paneling, plaster, carpeting, and linoleum). However, you may also come across a building that looks as though it has never been touched by modern architecture. Either way, you will need to make sure that your building is a safe place for your business and that it won’t put you or your patrons in danger.
Inspection: Have the building inspected by a professional. He or she will closely examine every aspect of the building from the roof to the foundation to determine the building’s safety. This report will help you decide how much to invest in the remodel and how much assistance you may need from a designer/architect.
Beware of Red Flags: The price tag may be too good to pass up, but are there are some red flags to consider such as hazardous materials like asbestos. Many old buildings contain the carcinogen and should not be destroyed or removed without a professional.
Asbestos can be found in almost every type of building material prior to the late 1970’s. “Asbestos has been used in heating and domestic water systems, including pipes, boilers and tanks. It also has been used in vinyl and linoleum flooring, and drop-in ceiling tiles,” says Belluck & Fox
Once you’re given the green light to go ahead and start renovating, it may be hard to decide where you want to start. While money will most likely be the deciding factor, plan a design that focuses on energy conservation and safety without losing your business’s unique style.
Spend to Save: There are many features in the old building that you may want to hang on to such as tall ceilings, ornate light fixtures, and large store front windows. You can keep some of these charming features and add some updated, money saving designs. Consider saving light fixtures, but adding more efficient lighting. Keep the large windows, but make sure there is new weather stripping around the windows.
Additionally, get rid of features such as mail chutes, that may interrupt efficient heating and cooling. If you’re lucky, you may find some inexpensive replicas (flooring or lighting) that perfectly match some of your building’s vintage charm.