What is the lifespan of a Commercial building?

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What is the lifespan of a Commercial building?
What is the lifespan of a Commercial building?

With the modern cities turning into concrete jungles, it is inevitable to lose sight of the overpowering structures with glass facades spearing into the blue skies. From stunning pieces of architectural wonders in the densely populated towns to dainty workshops in the inner suburbs of a metropolis, the burgeoning commercial buildings have become a part of our lives. There are some that have stood the test of time and have been standing tall for over 100 years, while there are others which are still in their infancy.

Most of the times, onlookers tend to believe that buildings are permanent fixtures in the settings of a vicinity. However, like everything else, they too come with an expiry date and go through various stages of a lifecycle. From the early years ranging from 1-15, the building is constructed and used by the first owner with a limited maintenance budget which starts increasing over time. In the second stage of 16-30 years, the building is in need of complete overhauling to replace the deteriorating systems.

In the third stage of 31-49 years, more expensive asset renewal projects are undertaken. At 50 years, the build which is now too old comes back to the second stage of renovation to keep standing for another 10-15 years. All structures need regular upkeep and maintenance and renovation to keep their foundations strong. The lifespan of a commercial building on average ranges from 50 to 60 years and can go further depending on the preservation techniques employed by the owner and the way the building is being utilised.

Also, every structure is unique and its endurance depends on its build quality and maintenance management. For example, box retail stores have a very short lifespan of a few years as they are supposed to be taken apart when the new owner moves in. Most of the commercial buildings need an overhaul after 20 or more years to keep going strong. There are many external factors that affect the lifespan of a building such as the upgrades, usage, expansion plans and much more. Here are some of the points that you must be aware of in case you are planning to purchase a commercial property for sale in Australia.


1.   Maintenance

To make a building last up to 50 years or more, long-term maintenance plans should be in place which will protect the investor’s asset. This means that the owner should not wait for wear and tear to affect the building, instead take charge and get the renovation work done proactively after every few years. Continuous inspection of the structure in all aspects ranging from electrical and mechanical parts to garden grooming and wall paint helps to make accurate predictions about upcoming upgrades. The owner or the tenant needs to set a budget aside for the maintenance work so that it is not neglected. This helps in enhancing the longevity and prolonging the serviceability of the premises. Additionally, the value of the building goes up which eventually generates high returns on investment for the owner.


2.   External Environment

The surroundings and the location of the construction have a significant effect on the end product. If the property is located close to the ocean, then salt deterioration can adversely affect it. The consequences can be dangerous for older buildings than the relatively new ones. The mortar used in brickwork can get disintegrated into powder form and lead to downward movement of the bricks which in turn can cause the external walls to collapse. The salt air also causes rusting of the tiles on the walls which can lead to peeling off of the skin of the external surface of the walls. Also, delignification of the timber can become a sore to the eyes as it destroys the beauty of the product. The shopfront awning can also get rusted and lend a dilapidated look to the building. Additionally, pollution and climate hazards like storms, harsh sunlight, heavy rainfall and snow take a toll on the structure over the years.  


3.   Internal Factors

Moisture in the internal air can lead to the growth of mould and fungi that can weaken the foundations of the building. Extreme humidity in the closed environment can lead to corrosion and condensation that may cause roof leaks and cracks in the walls. Faulty plumbing can lead to seepage and moisture laden walls. Excessive heat in the building can also have its share of consequences such as swelling, distortion, cracking of materials and components. Sometimes, a faulty design of the structure at the time of construction can call for disasters such as inadequate room for expansion and contraction, poor jointing, neglecting weathering, the absence of proper drainage and more.


4.   Usage

The lifespan of the building is also dependent on the volume of occupancy and its time period. If all the floors are further divided into sections to be filled up by more and more businesses as tenants, it will cover every nook and corner of the edifice. Maximum utilisation and usage of resources can lead to quicker wear and tear and a shorter lifespan. In addition, if the building is in use 24/7, it will be more susceptible to damage than the one being used five days a week between the official schedule of 9 to 5. The office hour timetable gives some breathing space to the building and gap to save on the daily energy consumption. There are many other ways of saving energy for commercial buildings which must be undertaken to reduce operational costs that can be utilised for repair work.    


5.   Installations

There are a substantial number of installations in a building including mechanical and electrical such as the HVAC systems, elevators, fire fighting equipment, garbage disposal, sewage disposal, water pipes and a plethora of other machines. These systems embedded in the structure are not meant to last a lifetime. They survive to their full capacity of 5-7 years and then start giving problems like cracks in pipes, breakage of wires, and more. These installations need to be repaired and replaced after a few years to increase the life expectancy of the commercial property.    


Whether it is a skyscraper or a small office complex, every creation has a lifespan which does not go beyond 60 years in the case of modern commercial buildings. Besides paying attention to the design and outward appearance of the construction, the investor or the buyer of commercial property for sale in Australia must look into all the other aspects mentioned above to make it last longer.

Author Info Sophie Barrett

Sophie Barrett is an experienced real estate marketing professional with a specialisation in commercial property market. She has a Masters degree in marketing from the esteemed Melbourne Business School and has several property management certificates to her credit. Her shrewd marketing policies and business acumen have led to the most rewarding property deals in the major capital cities of Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. She is a popular name in the real estate market and has been serving the industry for almost two decades now. CommercialProperty2Sell is proud to partner with her for some astute discussions and advice on the booming sector.  

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