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VJB chief: High-rise renovations a tall order.

It's no small job to renovate a high-rise building. Believe me, I know. I've been sitting (comfortably!) in my workplace, watching as our various construction crews give the hotel we are working on a complete makeover.

In the competitive tri-state real estate market, developers often consider renovation projects in prime areas where development sites are rare. Also, in a market in transition, many owners consider renovating existing structures to make, them more competitive. If you have toyed with the idea of converting an industrial, warehouse, manufacturing or office building into an apartment building, you can appreciate the weight of such a decision. Many individuals think that because they are renovating a building that has an existing foundation and structure, the development costs should be considerably less than building a new building.

It is our experiences at VJB Construction Corporation, as you enter the pre-construction phase of the project, the developer will need to decide two things: Who will build the project and the projects feasibility.

By discussing project ideas with the professional team of the builder as well as the architects and engineers who have experience in apartment renovations will ensure the plans for the site are feasible prior to construction and hopefully reduce unforeseen costs during the construction phase.

When renovating a building, the developer has to determine what level of quality they can afford. At VJB Construction, we have an extensive checklist that we review with the developer and architect during the pre-construction phase. Some of the points reviewed include:

* Is the building going to be a cop-op, condo or rental? Once this decision is finalized, a strategy must be developed that allows the developer to purchase the components that are important to the occupants.

* Has the existing structure been extensively surveyed not only to see how the apartments will layout within the envelope but also the impact that the structure has on the mechanical trades? There are several different mechanical systems that can be used in an apartment house and a developer should analyze all the systems to see which one fits best with their particular building. What are the differences between first-cost versus operating costs? Is the building going to be pierced? The answers to these questions help determine which mechanical system should be used.

* Have tests been taken to determine if any deterioration of the structure has occurred?

* Has there been water infiltration to the facade? What kinds of windows are going to be used? Are they going to be retrofit or does the structure and facade need to be modified to accommodate new windows? Again, this will have an impact on the mechanical system.

* What are the survey results of the buildings structural arch on each floor? Depending on how level the floor is will impact installing wood flooring and carpeting. What type of existing structure exists, since it will affect the coring and cuffing of duct, shafts and pipe penetrations.

* Are the elevator shafts being moved or will the new elevators be installed in the existing locations? This will also have an impact on the structure.

While using this approach, VJB Construction has recently completed several conversion projects where cost-effective solutions were integrated into the architectural plans prior to construction; thereby, reducing building costs. In Hoboken, New Jersey, VJB Construction built the multi-phased residential development of the Lipton Tea Company warehouse to 525 luxury rental apartments. The project called for the adaptive reuse of two buildings. situated on 17-acres at the north end of Hoboken Cove.

At VJB Construction we believe if you do your homework prior to the start of construction, the results will be a cost-efficient as well as successful project. It's the components you don't see, but will be with you for years to come, that makes the difference.
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Article Details
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Author:Bagnoli, Vincent J.
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 10, 2002
Previous Article:Spring will bring rising rental rates.
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