One of the toughest choices business people face after buying a new property is whether to renovate or rebuild that commercial building. There are a variety of factors that weigh into that choice. The following is a set of guidelines to help you make the decision wisely. First, let’s be clear how we define “renovation” versus “rebuilding” in this context:


To renovate is to restore the building to a state of good repair, and to make modifications.


To rebuild a property is to demolish what’s standing and construct something totally new.

What to Consider

What are you willing to pay for?

This is the most obvious question, and is usually has the greatest potential to limit your options. You can’t rebuild or renovate if you can’t pay for it. It’s not only a matter of the out-of-pocket costs, either, but also the financing that needs to be considered. There are different loans available for properties that are renovated vs. properties that are rebuilt.


Frankly, sometimes it’s just better to start over again. You need to be realistic about the condition, because it is cheaper to rebuild than to face a rebuild later if you know it will be pending at some point.

Neighborhood / Legal Factors

There are zoning laws, city planning, and a whole gamut of other restrictions that can apply to properties. You need to find out if you are even allowed to demolish the building. Whatever construction you do have in mind, working with a commercial contractor like Reliable will get the answers you need on these legal questions.

Another consideration for “neighborhood” that doesn’t occur to most is the equipment you’ll need. In dense urban environments and in far-flung rural/natural environments, sometimes it is not realistic to bring certain construction equipment to the building site.

Building Use

Do tenants need to stay in the building during the construction work? Can tenants vacate the building? If so, for how long is feasible? Factor these questions in accordingly.

Future Changes

Nobody knows the future with real certainty, but we can all try to exert some control over what will happen. A renovation at any point in the future can fluctuate in cost by wide margins based on material costs. A rebuild, on the other hand, is far easier to predict, because the costs for demolishing and then constructing a new building are relatively fixed.

Keep your ear to the ground for movement in the construction industry, too, or ask a commercial construction contractor like Reliable. Laws can be changed, and the last thing you want to do is buy a property you plan on rebuilding only for zoning laws to mark it as an historical location.

Area Space

How much space does the property have? How much space does the building already take up? Do you plan on expanding the building upwards or to cover more ground area? Much of this will be based on your business plans and projections.

Making your choice

When to Rebuild

If you decide to make a large expansion to the property, such as an increase to the size of the building by a factor of two or more, it’s going to be much cheaper to rebuild. If the property is worth much less money than other properties in the area, it is also a good investment to rebuild.

Properties with existing problems that will seriously hinder renovation should be rebuilt, too. Problems like pest infestations, faulty wiring, bad plumbing are all serious often cannot be fixed by renovation. In the case that these more serious problems can be fixed via renovating, it’s rarely worth the high price.

In other words, when it’s actually less work to start building from zero, it’s time to demolish and rebuild.

And for branding, when the building is stripped, is it obvious what the old business used to be? There are a spate of former Pizza Huts, for instance, that have been sold and renovated into new businesses. But from the unique shape of the roof, it’s clear what they used to be. It’s up to you to decide how much of the old business should show through in your building.

Rebuilding a commercial property only works, however, when there are no tenants, or the tenants can stay out of work for some time, or they have an alternative temporary location to do business.

For a detailed guide on rebuilding, and some pitfalls to avoid, start the conversation with Reliable Commercial today.

When to Renovate

If you have the space (in your budget and schedule), you can focus your efforts on renovating. Depending on the building’s age, certain elements will need to be upgraded regardless. There are often a lot of hidden costs that come with renovating for this reason. During renovation, it’s common that problems which were before unknown, such as bad electrical wiring, are found only after the finishes come up. Not only can finding problems uncover hidden costs, but it increases the time to finish your renovation as well. However, if the work you want to do remains superficial, then renovating could be the right decision.

When the building has a good foundation and little to no structural issues, renovating is the right choice in this case, too.

Local laws might only permit renovation in some cases. Check with the city council, zoning codes, and neighborhood rules, associations, and compliance agreements. Renovating a building might be the only choice you have.

Properties with little space and good foundations make for good renovating. The only way to expand those buildings is to build upwards. In this case, renovating is your best choice.

Here’s a great list of mistakes not to make when renovating.

Need Some help?

The experts at Reliable Commercial Construction will be happy to assist you in figuring out whether you need to add to an existing property, or start from scratch. On top of consultation to help you make your choice intelligently, we have the portfolio to prove how this consultation has benefited hundreds of clients before you. We guarantee quality and efficient work in commercial construction, industrial construction, commercial renovation, and more. Contact us now to discuss your commercial property and what you plan to do with it.