Office to Residential Conversion

Written by Dempsey Construction Preconstruction Manager Peter Vasilieff.

Are you thinking about converting an office building to a residential one? Here’s what you need to look out for.

Optimal Building Width

  • The ideal shape for the existing building is rectangular. This shape facilitates the desired layout, with a corridor running the length of the building and apartments on both sides.
  • If the building is a large square, major reconstruction may be necessary to achieve a functional interior layout, leading to significant cost impacts on the project.

Structural Upgrades

  • Modifications, such as adding penetrations for various building systems, may trigger a seismic retrofit, resulting in substantial cost impacts.
  • X-raying is required for all new steel reinforcement into existing concrete. The amount of new steel reinforcement may dictate the time spent x-raying concrete for steel installation.
  • Here are some building modifications that could trigger a seismic retrofit:
    • Punched openings for new windows in exterior walls.
    • Punched openings for new MEPF distribution for apartment restrooms.
    • Removing portions of the building.
    • Construction of new mezzanines within the building.
    • Building new structures on the existing structure

Outside Air Requirements

  • Existing office buildings often lack operable windows.
  • Converting an office building to residential requires each apartment to have access to outside air. This can be achieved through 24-hour exhaust or modification of existing windows.

Building Occupancy

  • Stairwells may need to be added depending on the change in occupancy.
  • Generators and fire/domestic water pumps will be necessary.

MEPF Systems

  • Converting an office building to residential entails significantly redistributing mechanical, engineering, plumbing, and fire systems.
  • Often, these buildings do not have enough power and will require a power upgrade.
  • Sewer and water will most likely need to be upgraded.