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Remodelling existing buildings for new purposes – Act fast in times of crisis

Since the beginning of 2020, people have become more aware of the impact that unforeseen events, such as forest fires, pandemics or earthquakes can have on a global scale. These unpredictable events make it clear that government bodies need to be able to provide accessible and effective facilities to provide shelter and other humanitarian needs, as fast as possible.

Llanelli stadium temporary hospital Source: Straitstimes

The current global situation should make developers and governments reflect on the flexibility of building projects and their intended uses. Bigger buildings, such as event halls, storage facilities, etc. should be considered as future response centres, as they have the most potential for quick adaptive reuse and the space to accommodate a lot of people. From today’s perspective, building a new sports stadium solely for entertainment purposes might seem to be wasteful, while making its potential emergency uses clear could transform it into an appealing project.

Quick building remodelling to fit a new purpose

Whatever action plan or guidelines governments choose in a crisis, their impact will create a ripple effect across all industries. During this global pandemic, the building sector is experiencing a lot of turmoil and increasing demand for certain facilities to be temporarily repurposed, whether for hospitals such as London’s new Nightingale Hospital or testing centres such as the ones set up in car parks at an IKEA in Wembley or Chessington World of Adventures. The task of finding existing buildings that can be remodelled in a short amount of time to fit a new purpose is challenging. Under normal circumstances, this task is difficult enough, but with this kind of added time pressure and the challenge of a chain of fragmented teams acting together, it quickly becomes a herculean task.

From government authorities, property owners, facility managers and contractors down to the builders having to act together in a fast and efficient manner, the project of repurposing buildings during this crisis will serve as a test to the rigid structures of the construction industry.

Keep everyone in the know

For quick results, you have to generate momentum. In order to have all the different pieces working together effectively, you’ll need a clear chain of command and transparent communication workflow.

  • Governmental bodies: The first step is to locate and assess the structures that can be remodelled to fit the intended purpose. However, the more difficult part may be to list the requirements and conditions as clearly as possible, making it clear to the property owners what changes will be necessary and what funding is available for the work. Any information going out from this stage will be crucial to everyone in the chain of command.
  • Property owners: Despite a number of government incentives, being ordered to remodel an existing building to fit a new purpose can still put a big economic strain on any building owner’s budget. Insufficient planning, poor execution and a lack of consideration of how to return the property to its original state can quickly drain the cash supply and might even risk the health and safety of others.
  • Architects & Engineers: Depending on the urgency of the situation, architects and engineers will have all kinds of challenges assigned to them to be solved as fast as possible. They will have to inspect and assess many aspects of the existing building before work can begin, such as its structural integrity, hygienic conditions, building logistics infrastructure and more. Information coming in and going out needs to be up to date and instantly distributable to contractors who will be carrying out their instructions.
  • Contractors & Subcontractors: As the final link in the chain, the executing companies and workers need to have access to the most current set of plans and instructions to make sure the set goals are realised in the intended manner, on time and within the budget.

 

READING TIP: Managing construction sites during a crisis– 5 things construction managers should do right now

For undertakings of this size, it is vital to have a project communication structure that is reliable and that efficiently connects all the different trades and professions.

It’s clear that a digitalized way of working is the most advantageous here. Combined with the benefits of a cloud-based platform, it allows for direct communication, instant progress updates and central storage for all project data.

RFIs, Inspections and Approvals on the go – Proactive delegating with PlanRadar

PlanRadar App Workflow

Having to accomplish a quick remodel of an existing building, project members need to be flexible in their working style. Why gather around the as-built drawings in person, when you can simultaneously work on the same plan across all your devices? You can avoid the hassle of scheduling a meeting with several people by making plan annotations and giving updates and instructions from your location, wherever you are.

Were a new set of drawings uploaded, or were the health & safety requirements just updated? Don’t worry, the push-notification system keeps everyone involved in the project in the know so that everybody, down to the builders and subcontractors, is up to speed.

Just received a notification from your colleague that all fire prevention measures have been installed? Quickly have a look at the PDF-report that has all the necessary information, including photos, documents, and comments before digitally signing and approving the works on the spot. There’s no need to visit the construction site every time and you can move straight on to your next important task.

READING TIP: Remote work in construction – Working from home done right!

 

With PlanRadar you can send also out RFIs in the form of tickets and distribute them ahead of time, then track their progress and be notified for specific events. This digital way of working can set you and your team up with a transparent workflow. In addition to your customizable dashboard, project-specific statistics will provide you with a great overview of how your project is doing. For example, via user metrics you can have a quick look at what your subcontractors are up to and track their progress throughout the project, making sure that you know that they’re making good progress and you’re going to meet your deadlines.

READING TIP: All functions of PlanRadar at a glance