The Constructor

Building Adaptation in Construction -Objectives, Importance and Opportunities

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What is meant by Building Adaptation?

Before moving on to building adaptation, it is essential to understand what is adaptation? Adaptation means the ability to fit. Building adaptation in construction can be defined as an intervention to adjust any work done on a building above the intention of maintenance that brings changes in the capacity, the function and the performance of the building.

Fig.1. Building Adaptation in Construction

Other words that are made or used similar to building adaptation are the building refurbishment, the rehabilitation of the building, restoration or renovation.

Building Adaptation Significance and Maintenance

A survey conducted on the construction industries in UK have revealed the importance of contribution of building adaptation and their maintenance. The main reason for the society to move towards building adaptation are the deficiencies in the performance of the building, sustainability of the buildings. The table below shows the value of newly constructed buildings and refurbished buildings in UK in the year 2004.

Table.1: Values of Different Building Sectors in UK, As per Goodier and Gibb, 2004

Range of Different Building Adaptation Options

The scope of adaptation works that can be carried out in the building is very large. This depends mainly on the extent and the purpose of the changes proposed to the building. The figure-1 below shows the different range of adaptation options that can be applied to the building. One end of the spectrum starts with the preservation and the other end will end with the complete reconstruction of the building. The intermediate interventions possible are the refurbishment, rehabilitation, remodeling, renovation, retrofitting and restoration.

Fig.2. Spectrum of Range of Adaptation Options

The nature and the extent of intervention differentiate each of the adaptation option from each other.

Different Scales of Building Adaptations

There are three different scales at which the extent of adaptation can be carried out. They are:
  1. Small scale adaptation
  2. Medium scale adaptation
  3. Large scale adaptation

Small Scale Adaptation

The degree of change in small scale adaptation is of low key. These involve the activities of improvement of the surfaces in minor areas, having fitting upgradation and extensions in the minor scale. Some of the examples under this category are the re-roofing, having new coverings for the floorings, re-painting or painting, replacement of door and windows or the fittings of the kitchen or toilet. Conversion of the loft or porch extension. Some minor structural works can also be included in this category. This include bringing new openings in the structure.

Medium Scale Adaptation

This type of adaptation brings a substantial change in the building structure. This type involves a conversion scheme. The structure includes upgradation of the surfaces and the elements in a major scale. Major scale retrofitting is conducted for different services of the building. The capacity of the building is enlarged. Many alterations in the structural side is made. For old buildings, the changes conducted is large. For example, conversion of office rooms to flats or vice versa, incorporation of new air conditioning system in the building, roof recovering with good thermal properties, over cladding, the walls, re-cladding the walls, flat roof undergoing over roofing, extension in lateral or vertical direction in major area, insertion or the removal of the walls and the floors.

Large Scale Adaptation

This scale of adaptation brings drastic change in the building. It has extensive remodeling works planned, which includes façade retention method (reconstructing new buildings behind the existing external facades or the walls), spatial and structural alterations in an extensive manner so that the usage is changed or the capacity is decreased or increased. For examples, the works done for complete restoration of a ruined multi -story building, façade retention ideas, internal and the external modification of the existing building. When it comes to adaptation for commercial purpose the different scales of adaptation are greatly influenced by the market and the lease considerations.

Adaptability in Building Adaptation

The adaptability can be defined as the ability of the building to absorb minor and major changes. This is a major attribute of adaptation. There are five criteria involved in adaptability. This includes:
  1. Convertibility
  2. Dismantlability
  3. Disaggregatability
  4. Expandability
  5. Flexibility
The convertibility property allows for having changes in use that is feasible economically, legally and technically. The property of dismantlability enables to have demolishment in a safe, efficient and speedy manner. The property that lets to reuse or reprocess the materials and the components dismantled is called as the disaggregatability. The property of expandability increases the volume or the capacity by have floor addition or have extension in either directions. The flexibility property will help in reconfiguring the layout and make a new one which is more efficient

Objective of Building Adaptation

The adaptation once conducted must let the user use the product continuously and efficiently for a long period of at least greater than 5 years. This can be achieved only if the adaptation work takes in the following objectives. The main objectives of building adaptation are:
  1. Compliance with the standard code
  2. Enhancement of the environment
  3. Spatial modifications
  4. Upgrading the structure and fabric

Compliance with the Code

It is very essential to bring the building that have undergone any scale of adaptation to conform with the contemporary building standards at any cost. The standards that must be followed will include the:
  1. Facilities that is provided for the disabled access
  2. Facilities for the fire safety
  3. Proper Sound Insulation and Noise prevention
  4. Stability criteria of the structure
  5. Thermal efficiency of the building

Environmental Enhancement

The features that must be incorporated when carrying out building adaptation to enhance the environmental features includes the following:
  1. The comfort conditions and the energy efficiency can be increased by installing new or upgraded services.
  2. Bring buildings that contributes to sustainability objective.
  3. For indoor climate, high performance standards have to be achieved.
  4. To improve the appearance of the building façade painting or repainting can be performed.
  5. The external environmental improvements can be achieved by having soft landscaping which is a part of the urban regeneration scheme.

Spatial Modifications

This adaptation work is mainly conducted on the plan arrangement of the building. The works includes:
  1. The size of the units can be adjusted. For example, the ceiling levels can be lowered.
  2. The building can be divided into smaller units. This can be vertical or horizontal division. Forming compartments within a building having small rooms or office spaces.
  3. Making self-contained units.
  4. Spaces can be combined to form large spaces.
  5. Provision for additional space arrangements.
  6. The existing space can be expanded so that it can serve certain purpose liking dining.
  7. Common areas and circulations can be provided.
  8. The accommodation can be increased and improved.
  9. Additional space for having new activities can be done. For example, the need for work area or computer room.
  10. Alterations can be done for elderly people or the disabled ones.
  11. The internal planning of the building can be reconfigured based on the convenience.
  12. The function of the spaces can be changed. For example, changing the lounge to kitchen.

Upgrading the structure and the Fabric

Some of the options that can be carried out in this objective are:
  1. To improve the weather resistance of the roof and the wall, it can be either over roofed or it can be subjected to overcladding respectively. This also enhances the aesthetics, the thermal performance of the building and the acoustic property of the structure. The whole building efficiency would increase.
  2. Improvement and general repairs can be carried out for damp proofing and preservation of timber.
  3. Remedial works can be carried out to conduct rectification of flood and storm damage issues.
  4. The load – bearing capacity can be improved by inserting a new column or beam as a part of strengthening.
  5. The structural elements that are defective or of sub - standards can be repaired. One such example is underpinning operations that is carried out for foundations.

Opportunities in Building Adaptation

The building adaptation is conducted in context that the structure is not static in a particular use throughout its service life. Adaptation process manage and control the change keeping in standard the functional and the physical attributes of the existing building. As new technologies, lifestyles are changing, the demand also keeps on changing. So, the building adaptation must be responding to the changes that is in demand. This makes the building adaptation to more prominent in industrialized countries. As per the Energy Research Group, 1999, any building that have poor performance in terms of comfort conditions, energy efficiency and environmental impact, must undergo adaptation. The changes in building can be influenced by various parameters which includes external and the internal factors. These are also called as the exogenous and the endogenous changes. The exogenous changes are mainly those changes that occur due to the external factors like varying climatic conditions or the market conditions. These factors severely affect the building redundancy. The endogenous changes are those internal factors that are associated with the building itself. These factors are generally put forward by the user. One of the example is the lack of maintenance bringing damage to the fabrics. So, buildings can be subjected to different use in a particular service life. The flats can be converted into office. This if needed can be converted back to flat as time demands.
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