Renovations and Retrofits in Florida: What You Need to Know

Renovations and Retrofits in Florida: What you need to know

Commercial construction projects can be complex, time-consuming, and expensive. However, there are best practices that simplify the process, as well as save time and money.

As buildout, renovation, and retrofit experts for commercial environments, we want to share some information around the increase of renovations and retrofits we’ve seen taking place throughout Florida.

Whether your project is designed for retail, food and beverage, office, or mixed-use, this blog will cover what you need to know to take the next step.

The Difference Between Renovation and Retrofit

First, let’s discuss the difference between a renovation and a retrofit.

Renovation and retrofitting have similarities; for one, they both make changes to the existing building. Furthermore, these changes are to upgrade the building, increase its functionality, and add to its current value. In basic terms, the key difference is that renovation can pertain to interior changes that focus mostly on modernizing or updating the aesthetics.

In contrast, a retrofit provides something with a component that was not featured in the original manufacturing and deals largely with technology and systems. Although both can deal with more than cosmetics and involve layout changes, a retrofit will often require the team to address load-bearing walls, rewire electrical systems, fix plumbing, and other similar activities—to either bring the building up to code, fix what’s broken, or make the building systems more efficient.

According to a 2022 article from the American Institute of Architects, the number of renovation projects have increased and now rival the number of new builds. When surveyed about the goals of their recent projects, firms stated that 25% of their projects were for adaptive reuse. Another 25% focused on conversion and basic interior modernization.

The other half of responses were as follows:

  • Tenant fit-outs = 18%
  • Adding usable space = 10%
  • Upgrades to the shell or to the systems = 10%
  • Historic preservation = 3%

With nearly half construction projects devoted to renovations, where do retrofits rank in the current market?

From their research, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory offers these key findings:

  1. Systems retrofits represent around 20 percent of total projects.
  2. Systems retrofits show a greater occurrence in high energy saving projects.
  3. Lighting measures are the most prevalent in all types of retrofits, while there is a higher prevalence of HVAC measures in systems retrofits than in non-system retrofits.
  4. Several barriers prevent wider deployment of systems, including a lack of awareness of system retrofit opportunities, perceived higher costs, ease of system design, installation and operation, and in some cases policy barriers.

However, there’s plenty of need for retrofitting; studies show that commercial real estate buildings constitute 18% of all U.S. energy consumption and have potential for significant reductions through cost-effective energy retrofits.

With Construction Companies Shouldering the Load, More Businesses Retrofit Their Commercial Buildings

It’s apparent that the number of retrofits could increase if some or all of the stated barriers were removed. For example, stakeholders cite ease of design, installation, commissioning, and operation as deterrents. Thus, if the construction company were able to address these issues on behalf of the owner, and thereby reduce the complexities involved in the process, more retrofitting and deeper applications of retrofitting could occur.

Most companies focus their retrofit budget on upgrading their commercial building HVAC, even though this is the most expensive to install per square foot. The least expensive retrofit is lighting, but all of the following can help decrease energy costs, saving the company money in the long run and— perhaps most importantly—bringing their building into compliance with current codes.

  • Heating
  • Cooling
  • Ventilation
  • Lighting
  • Domestic hot water
  • Plug loads (e.g., office equipment)
  • Commercial refrigeration
  • Weather-resistant roofing
  • Outdoor air purging
  • Building envelope air tightening

There has been a long-term trend toward fire safety and protection in commercial buildings, as state and federal laws are enacted to address and enforce the issue. Retrofits are becoming increasingly common as more governments enact ordinances like sprinkler coverage, bigger floor area restrictions, and extended egress pathways.

Retrofits can be more expensive than renovations, and multiple sources suggest that decision makers expect a payback period between three and five years. This quick ROI is more likely to happen if you hire a company who saves you money upfront and throughout the process while still executing the work with quality materials and craftsmanship.

Renovations and Retrofits in Florida

Florida is a busy state with a dynamic commercial sector. Out of the nearly 40 new Wawa locations set to open across the county this year, 19 of them are in Florida. The Tampa market alone currently has around 4 million square feet in the construction pipeline.

But owners in Florida have the same concerns as owners throughout the country. Yes, they want their buildings safe and compliant. Yes, they want them to be attractive and functional for customers and clients. And, yes, they want to watch the budget’s bottom line so the company remains profitable.

Whether it’s retail stores, restaurants, offices, or mixed-use spaces, commercial renovations and retrofits have a vital role in maintaining and enhancing the building—and the brand. However, undertaking a successful commercial project requires careful planning, attention to detail, and a thorough understanding of the challenges of the Florida market.

While opportunities for brand expansion and renovations abound, commercial real estate advisor Chad Massaker claims that Florida’s regulatory requirements will continue to be a challenge. He explains, “Many cities have introduced new regulations and zoning restrictions to manage growth and maintain the quality of life for their residents. These regulations can add significant costs to commercial construction projects and may make it more difficult for developers to secure financing.”

This is why it’s so important that you hire a construction company that understands Florida’s building codes and regulations. Hurd Construction Management can navigate those requirements for you—saving you time and money.

Hurd Construction Management Removes the Barriers Holding Back Your Business

Why choose Hurd for your next commercial construction project? We offer complete project management, construction, and more:

  • Site Selection Support and Existing Conditions Analysis​
  • Pre-Construction Planning (Permitting, A&E Oversight, Scoping, and Budgeting)​
  • Early Procurement Planning With Proactive Vendor Collaboration and Coordination
  • Construction Management and General Contracting ​
  • Florida Statewide Program Management
  • Post-Construction, Facility Maintenance, and Repairs​

Download our PDF “Five Best Practices for Commercial Space Buildouts or Renovations”—it’s a free, practical guide full of information designed to help you make the best decisions for your next project.

If you need an experienced and reliable company to be your owner’s representative and project manager throughout the entire pre-planning to post-construction process for a commercial build, renovation, or retrofit, contact us today.