3 Ways to Tell if a Building Is a Good Candidate for Adaptive Reuse

Adaptive reuse can breathe new life into old or historic buildings, repurposing them for a function other than the one for which they were originally designed. But just because a building is old doesn’t mean it will necessarily be right for reuse. If you’re considering a property for commercial purposes, here are a few ways to determine if it’s a good candidate for this method.

How to Tell if a Building Is Right for Adaptive Reuse

1. Good Bones

In the architecture, design, and real estate industries, good bones refers to a solid building structure. While the exteriors and facades may not be in ideal shape, these buildings have structurally sound components underneath. In this case, the frame, foundation, flooring supports, and construction materials are still in strong condition, and the building largely only requires cosmetic improvements to be successfully adapted for reuse.

2. Historical Touches


When an older building is updated for reuse, it will usually contain some of the original historical features in the architecture or design. The goal is not necessarily to make the space unrecognizable from its initial intent, but to repurpose it for new use while acknowledging its historical value. 

An ideal building will retain aspects of its original charm so that these elements can be incorporated into the redesign. With adaptive reuse, you can preserve the past while ensuring the building meets present and future needs.

3. Building Code Compliance

As you consider a property, think about what it will take to bring the building up to code. Your architect and designers will be key here, as they have insights into local building and zoning laws and the work required to comply with those laws. You should invest in a building with built-in potential and space for upgrading stairs, elevators, fire exits, electrical and mechanical systems, and accessibility features.