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RE1102 Urban Land Use & Development

Lecture 9: Life Cycle of Buildings

Dr Grace Wong

Lecture 9: Life Cycle of Buildings

Objectives of Lecture 9:
To appreciate the phases of a buildings life cycle:

Predevelopment; Newly developed; Middle life; Old age; Total obsolescence.

To understand the types and effect of obsolescence on buildings; To highlight the various measures that could prolong the life of buildings.

Building Life Cycle Predevelopment Phase

The predevelopment phase is usually manifested in the form of vacant land: - without previous development; - with previous development demolished.
At the predevelopment phase: - The vacant land tends to be neglected. - The owner is likely to hold back expenditure. - The vacant land may be subject to trespassing and dumping.

Decisions relating to Predevelopment Phase

How to keep away trespassers and squatters away from the vacant land?
What type of maintenance is required for the vacant land? Can the vacant land be put to some temporary use to generate income until a permanent use is confirmed?

Building Life Cycle Newly Developed Phase

At the newly developed phase, the building is likely to be appealing in appearance, highly popular and have high demand and efficiency in performance. It would attract complementary uses within the same building or in the surroundings. There would be a gradual increase in revenue and hence its value would rise.
This phase is known as the growth or prime phase.

Decisions relating to Newly Developed Phase

When should the construction of the building be completed?
When should the sale/launch/opening be effected? What are the current market and consumer demand trends? Who are the prospective tenants or buyers? How to promote or market the new building?

Building Life Cycle Middle Life Phase

At the middle life phase, the value of the property and occupancy rates stabilize with a steady stream of income. Complementary land use linkages are likely to mature and become more settled with possible development of locational goodwill.
M&E installations may require replacement. Fabric for carpet, finishing for ceiling and walls may start to deteriorate.

Decisions relating to Middle Life Phase

Is the current preventive and corrective maintenance program able to keep the deterioration in check?
Are there needs for modifications, improvements and extensions to meet changes in consumer demand? Are vacancy rates on the increase?

Building Life Cycle Old Age Phase

At the old age phase, the building would exhibit obvious physical and economic signs of deterioration. M&E installations are likely to be outdated. There may be infiltration of lower classes of uses, hence decreasing the buildings value and status.
Fresh investment for improvement/refurbishment and maintenance/repair may not yield sufficient return. Maintenance efforts would be gradually reduced and the building would be in a state of neglect. 9

Decision relating to Old Age Phase

Should the building change its current use to a more profitable one?
Should the building be refurbished or retrofitted with modern and more efficient equipment and facilities? Should the building be demolished and redeveloped? Should the building be disposed of?

Building Life Cycle Total Obsolescence Phase

At the total obsolescence phase, the building has zero value or insignificant value.
The building provides zero or little utility to its user/owner as it is likely to have obsolete layout and facilities, and would be in a state of disrepair.

It is uneconomical to invest in repairs or improvements.

It may be classified as a dangerous building which is structurally unsound.

Decisions relating to Total Obsolescence Phase

Should the building be abandoned and left vacant until the time is suitable for redevelopment?
Should the building be demolished and redeveloped into a new development/structure?


Obsolescence in Buildings
The nature of obsolescence in buildings is characterized by a decline in utility, usefulness, occupancy rates, income and value as a result of changing circumstances.

Usually, the age of the building is not the main cause of obsolescence.
Building obsolescence is essentially caused by: - Economic changes; - Demographic changes; - Technological changes.

Physical Obsolescence
Physical obsolescence is characterized by the wear and tear of the physical fabric and structure. The rate of physical depreciation varies depending on the type of materials, quality of workmanship, climate, amount of maintenance, vandalism, etc. Building components such as the faade, finishes, structural frame, etc have different life spans. Physical obsolescence could be remedied by maintenance, retrofitting and refurbishment but sometimes it may not be economically beneficial to do so.


Functional Obsolescence
Functional obsolescence occurs when the building becomes less or not suitable for the use for which it was designed. This could be due to a high deficiency in the building design but normally functional obsolescence is brought about or aggravated by changes in taste and fashion. Functional obsolescence could be remedied by adaptation of the building in terms of physical structure and layout (e.g. air-conditioning) as well as a change of use.

Economic Obsolescence
Economic obsolescence is characterized by a loss in revenue and value of the building. It could be brought about by declining population, competition, changes in consumer tastes and preferences, technological advancement, etc. It may not be permanent and can be obliterated when positive changes occur and demand increases again. A change or conversion of use of the building may be a remedy for economic obsolescence.

Measures to Prolong a Buildings Life

Physical life depends on: - Building materials in terms of quality and durability; - Workmanship and proper construction methods; - Regular maintenance.

Functional life depends on: - Forward planning, e.g. expansion/extension; - Building design and layout should be flexible. Economic life depends on: - Management strategies and maintenance standards; - Homogeneity of uses with no disharmonious uses; - Tenant mix and selection.


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