Consider renovation before knocking down a building

Additions and alterations (A&A) can save property owners at least 50 per cent in time and costs compared with replacing an existing building

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 November, 2016, 1:30pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 November, 2016, 11:30pm

Property owners looking to make home improvements should consider making minor renovations rather than knocking down an existing building and starting from scratch, according to a renowned local architect.

Chow Wai-lee, managing director of WDA Group, said this approach can lead to significant cost savings and enhanced benefits.

“Additions and alterations ( A&A) work is a good option when owners consider enhancing the existing property,” said Chow, who has almost three decades of local and international experience in the construction industry, with projects in Hong Kong, Macau, mainland China, and other countries.

A minimum of about 50 per cent savings in terms of time and costs can be expected as no existing structure has to be complete torn down, she said.

“But you will be surprised by the enhanced value after A&A works,” she said . “ A Grade C office building can be upgraded to a Grade B building after renovation.”

Generally, alteration and addition refers to work carried out on an existing building that does not affect the foundation work. Examples include constructing a new extension block, adding additional floors, combining two or more units into one by removing the partition walls and subdividing a unit into smaller units.

Other A&A projects might include installing cladding or curtain wall to the façade of an existing building or adding water tanks, structural frames for air-conditioning or other plant and machinery.

“A & A is also much more environmentally sustainable” said Chow.

“It takes into consideration nuisance elimination, considerably reducing dust, noise, traffic and rubbish creation compared to a total redevelopment. Significant improvement in acoustics, lighting, cooling, ventilation and the use of space of the building can be expected.”

Chow is the daughter of Chow Yei-ching, the chairman and managing director of Chevalier International Holdings, which has businesses from property and hotel management, engineering and construction, to food and beverage.

Chow said property owners all too often overlook the value of A&A works.

A&A work is just like a body check-up; as the physical environment and society change, so owners should conduct A&A works regularly to maintain the quality and value of the property.

“It can extend the life span of a building,” said Chow. “Architects are building doctors.”