Partnering With Engineering & Restoration Firms to Determine Restoration vs. Building New

Partnering With Engineering & Restoration Firms to Determine Restoration vs. Building New

How Engineering and Restoration Professionals Assist Commercial Property Owners to Determine Their Options Between Restoration and Building New


Considering the pros and cons of restoration vs. new build with engineering and restoration firms is something many commercial property owners must do to protect their investment. Each option has several variables to analyze in terms of cost, sustainability, and longevity.

Ultimately, making the decision will require input from restoration experts and engineers while making a detailed analysis based on the short- and long-term goals of ownership.

Assessing Your Commercial Building Investment

Regular inspections may uncover damage and potential issues in the commercial structure. There is a point where a deeper understanding of the extent of damage and repairs required is necessary. A contractor or inspector can conduct the initial inspection to determine the level of damage.

If the damage is aesthetic or surface level, it may not require an engineer. Replacing joint sealants and waterproofing are straightforward and can very often be conducted without engineering expertise. Anything about the structure will require a high-level expert, however. Damage to concrete members, post-tension cables, and other important structural elements are examples of things more engineering-focused.

The initial process for the determination of repairs needed involves three simple steps from the contractor and/or engineer:

  1. The history of the structure is researched to determine the building style and materials involved. Past repairs and maintenance also factor into history.
  2. A visual survey is conducted to make repair determinations. In many cases, conducting destructive test openings will also reveal issues beneath the surface.
  3. A list of repair items and materials is generated with pricing. The costs are presented to ownership.

Armed with an assessment from a trusted contractor like McGill Restoration, ownership can determine if an engineer is necessary, if they were not initially brought on by the ownership group. Then, the next steps are finding the right partner who understands the nature of the work and can provide expert engineering feedback to help determine the best value proposition in new construction vs. restoration.

Pros/Cons of Restoration vs. Building New

The determination is different for every structure and each property ownership group. Short-term owners will often favor short-term repairs over full restoration or replacement while long-term ownership will look at ROI over an extended time frame.

When choosing a restoration partner, the engineer can also work with ownership to select the best bid. Not all bids are created equal, and some will fit the cheapest option while others fit the “done right” and made-to-last option. The price points will vary but so will the outcomes. Qualified engineering firms and restoration firms can help to determine the best value for owners.

Some owners will choose short-term options while others will choose long-term restoration programs. McGill Restoration recently completed a long-term repair program for the City of Lincoln, NE—the Eagle Parking Garage.

Benefits of Commercial Structure Restoration

Restoration has some major benefits for long- and short-term decision-makers. From being more cost-effective to less downtime, there are serious benefits to consider. At McGill Restoration, we frequently work double shifts that rotate strategically through segments of a structure. This keeps it partially operational while completing the job on quick turnarounds, which is often mandatory in hospitals and other high-use garages like the Nebraska Medical Center project we completed in partnership with Walker Parking Consultants.

Core benefits for restoration include:

  • The structure can remain operational (or partially on many jobs).
  • Restoration is typically the faster turnaround solution.
  • Restoration is often the most cost-efficient option for many structures.
  • Serves aesthetic and structural repair needs.
  • From an environmental standpoint, restoration uses fewer resources and less energy.
  • Historical buildings are preserved through savvy restoration efforts.

New Construction Is a Major Investment

New construction can be fun and flashy, and in some cases, it is the most cost-effective long-term solution. However, new construction is often the most costly and the most time-consuming option. Frequent evaluations are best practice for municipalities and long-term ownership, and they are especially valuable when an older structure has reached a low point in its lifespan.

A few downsides to new construction include:

  • The building is out of service longer. No utilization equals lost revenue and more inconvenience to ownership.
  • Some facilities can’t close and will require alternative parking, shuttles, and transportation for employees and visitors.
  • Loss of historic and valued cultural landmarks in communities.
  • Higher overall cost and greater use of resources.
  • Some city codes do not allow for the same structure to be rebuilt entirely, for example, downtown parking garages, making restoration the only option.
  • Higher waste and environmental impact filling our landfills.

Power of Partnering with Quality Building Engineers and Restoration Experts

Quality engineers serve as advisors that can deliver reliable advice that isn’t coming solely from a contractor. Quality restoration experts are the go-to for the planning and execution of the work that needs to get done on time and within budget. While engineers and contractors are working closely together, having independent perspectives creates a partnership that benefits the structure and ownership group.

Great engineering and restoration contractor partnerships can present realistic short-term, medium-term, and long-term restoration plans to ownership groups so they can decide what is the best overall investment. Oftentimes, these plans offer restoration planning in strategic phases and outline the best times of year to get things done quickly and in the most cost-effective manner.

In the words of Carl Schneeman of Walker Consultants, “It translates into a plan that folks can have confidence in. When the partnerships are effective, we come in at the predetermined costs and expected budget of owners.”

These partnerships are crucial and having engineers and contractors who communicate and problem-solve together is a powerful combination. For example, the Clarkson Lot One rehab project was a technically complex project that Walker Consultants tackled with McGill Restoration.

Schneeman said the project was, “…successful because of the ability of McGill Restoration crews to be able to execute technical work. It required detailed and non-standard challenging repairs, but we worked together to engineer solutions and source equipment and crews capable of making repairs.”

At the end of the day, many structures can benefit from high-quality engineers and restoration contractors who are dedicated to meeting the goals and budgets of ownership. The overall costs and downtime are typically far less than new construction and it makes overall strategic sense to pursue avenues of restoration to keep existing structures in service for longer.

Is your commercial structure a candidate for engineered solutions and restoration specialist work? Get in touch with the team at McGill Restoration to explore restoration options today.

Tired of fielding complaints about your deteriorating structure but don’t know where to begin to fix it?

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