Are you looking to open your own practice? One way to do it while cutting costs and protecting the environment is to repurpose an existing structure into a veterinary hospital.
This old bank has been converted to the Bridgeport Veterinary Hospital.
Old buildings are more likely to be considered inefficient or outdated than character-filled spaces with reimagined purpose—especially considering veterinary hospital standards. But things are not always how they appear, according to Daniel D. Chapel, AIA, NCARB, owner of Chapel Associates Architects Inc. in Little Rock, Arkansas. “Repurposing buildings holds more advantages than meet the eye,” Chapel said in a lecture today at the Fetch dvm360 virtual conference.
Consider your surroundings. Maybe you’re a visionary who wants to restore older buildings, perhaps the cost of building development sites is out of range, or you simply enjoy antique flair and want to work in an historical section of your area. Note that older buildings often outlive their initial purpose, whether it was formerly a restaurant, church, or a bank. The point to drive home, Chapel said, is that these buildings contain key features when it comes to repurposing them for your practice.
The adaptive reuse, or conversion process can be defined as taking an existing building and repurposing it as, for instance, an animal hospital. Chapel explained the benefits of adaptive reuse, including the fact that repurposing a historic building allows you to receive tax credits from the historic preservation program of your state. Another benefit: an established infrastructure. Reusing a building that already has pre-existing connections to municipal, transportation, and community services can cut costs compared with new construction on the same site.
When comparing costs per square foot, a remodeled or renovated building may actually cost less than a new building of equal size. If you are able to work mostly within an existing structure, the time of construction might be substantially less.
If you’re already in support of recycling and conserving materials to promote a more stabilized ecosystem, then converting an older building may have an even larger appeal for you. First, the existing infrastructure can be reused, lowering the costs of installing utilities like sewer, water and power.
This also plays into the idea of having a minimum impact on the environment. By utilizing a ready-made space, not only are your site costs lower, but you are not developing new building materials in untouched green or open space. “Everybody talks about going green and saving plastic bottles and so forth,” said Chapel. “Well, think how fantastic it is to save a whole building. Think of how much money, resources, and time went into making the building materials that you find.”
Before you make the decision to convert, and definitely before you purchase a site, consider in these factors: