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Pros and Cons of Roof Lifting vs New Construction

Commercial Real Estate Decisions: Purchase and Build or Renovation?

From 2015 to 2020, the commercial real estate remodeling sector experienced substantial growth due to a robust economy. Industry revenue grew at an annual rate of 4.4% to $35.8 billion, despite an 11.3% decline in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to IBISWorld. After surges in demand and prevalence for e-commerce and the emptying of office spaces around the country, the commercial renovation outlook is projected to grow over the next decade while new construction is to remain relatively flat.

When property owners are faced with dilemmas like aging properties, shrinking operational bandwidth, and quick real estate market changes, they ultimately are faced with a decision: secure and develop a new property or join the frenzied remodelers as mentioned above and renovate their existing space.

LIFTEX is dedicated to helping commercial real estate professionals navigate this decision with innovative solutions backed by decades of experience. Here, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of renovation and new construction, from developing an ideal new space to simply lifting the roof to add more storage capacity and boosting ROI. We’ll cover the ins and outs of the factors you’ll want to consider before making the decision to expand, whether it’s out – or up.

LIFTEX Commercial Roof Rising Before and After Projects

Purchasing Land and Building New Developments.


1. Total Customization: The most obvious perk to building a new commercial space is it allows for complete control over design and features. For instance, a large distribution center might desire class A type bay spacing, such as 50’x50’ or more, something that is uncommon among existing structures and is costly to modify. The loading dock needs an existing structure may also be deficient, potentially requiring underpinning techniques and site work to meet the center’s needs. Starting from scratch enables precise planning for these specific needs without the need for much compromise.

2. Energy Consumption: Although the up front costs are much higher, building envelopes do not need to incorporate existing conditions of the past, meaning the space typically functions better from a long term energy use standpoint, potentially reducing month to month overhead.

3. Less contingencies: A new building comes with fresh, new sets of plans. There typically are no issues like settlement, hidden conditions, or unknowns uncovered late in the game, and new materials are designed in conjunction to fit easily with one another.

4. Modern Amenities: A healthcare based organization looking to expand its facilities might prefer a new build to incorporate cutting-edge medical technology and energy-efficient systems. This would help reduce the amount of expensive retrofitting commonly found in healthcare spaces.

5. Brand Image: A new, state-of-the-art facility can significantly boost a company’s brand image. For big-box retailers, a modern, well-designed building can attract new customers while enhancing brand perception for customers new and old.


1. Higher Upfront Costs: Initial expenses for land purchase, permits, and construction are generally much higher for new builds compared to renovating an existing structure. These increased costs can be prohibitive, especially if the company is also financing new equipment and technology. When increased property taxes associated with the build are realized, the true cost of new construction becomes staggering.

2. Longer Time Frame: An expanding logistics firm might be hindered by the long timelines associated with new construction to the point they have a negative ROI for many years. New construction projects almost alwaystake longer to complete, delaying a business’s ability to operate and/or grow, often leading to loss of actual and potential revenue in the short term.

3. Location: Sometimes the place a business wants to be simply doesn’t have available land for new construction. This can be countered by demolishing an existing building and rebuilding, but this tactic adds demolition costs to the overall project, making an already expensive & lengthy endeavor that much longer and that much more costly.

4. Regulatory Hurdles: Securing zoning approvals and building permits are almost always complex and time-consuming as well as costly. New builds must meet any and every current requirement, for items such as parking for instance. Nothing is “grand-fathered” in, everything must be proved.

Revitalizing Existing Structures.


1. Lower Initial Costs: Renovating an existing structure is almost always a more cost-effective solution compared to new construction. By avoiding the high costs associated with land acquisition and foundational work, a business can allocate precious resources to other critical areas.

2. Shorter Time Frame: A commercial real estate firm looking to quickly capitalize on market demand for warehouse space might find it more lucrative to renovate an older building. This faster turnaround means they can start leasing space sooner and generate revenue quickly without arduous carrying costs

3. Sustainability: A commercial real estate investment group might also opt to revitalize an old building to earn sustainability tax credits as well. Reusing existing structures reduces the need for new materials and minimizes construction waste.

4. Community Improvement: By taking something old and making it new, the impact is felt throughout the community. It can mean others follow suit, leading to job growth and an upgraded aesthetic for the area as a whole.


1. Limited Customization: Converting an old manufacturing building into a warehouse may be restricted by the column spacing, which often isn’t modified during a renovation. This lack of flexibility could be a drawback, depending on their longer term needs.

2. Hidden Costs: A retail chain renovating an old department store might uncover hidden issues such as asbestos, outdated electrical systems, or structural weaknesses. These unexpected costs can quickly escalate – if not derail the project for a meaningful amount of time.

3. Regulatory Compliance: An industrial firm might struggle with bringing an old factory up to current safety, accessibility, and environmental standards. Ensuring compliance can be challenging and costly, sometimes requiring extensive modifications that extend far outside of the desired scope of renovations, depending on what they are and where the building is located.

The Case for Roof-Lifting.

When the choice comes to renovations, roof lifting checks the boxes for expenses and functionality. By creating more vertical space with minimal disruption and expenses – commercial real estate investors get faster results when compared to new construction or moving to new facilities.

While it’s often seen as a slam dunk for warehousing and manufacturing businesses that need additional room for equipment and storage, it also creates an opportunity to invigorate shopping centers, sports facilities, and more.

Additionally, roof lifting helps combat the increasing property taxes associated with larger building footprints resulting from a conventional addition. It does this without sacrificing functionality or advantageous locations, resulting in lower long-term real estate costs.

The Case for New Developments.

Building a property on new land offers advantages that can outweigh the ease and cost-efficiency of roof lifting. The most notable benefit is the ability to fully customize the building envelope to exact needs, meaning businesses can design their spaces with precision, like an office building with customized modern amenities and finishes throughout.

A new state-of-the-art facility can also enhance a company’s brand image, attracting new customers and boosting brand perception. New builds, however, will almost always come with higher upfront costs, longer timelines, and some regulatory hurdles, but the long-term benefits of a modern, customized space can sometimes justify these initial challenges.

Affordability Comparison.

Roof Lifting Existing Structures

Generally More Affordable: On average, renovating existing structures tends to be more affordable upfront.

Quicker ROI: The shorter time frame for renovations allows businesses to occupy and utilize the space sooner.

Building New Developments

Higher Initial Investment: While initial costs are higher, new developments can offer better long-term efficiency and lower maintenance costs.

Potentially Higher Long-Term Value: Custom-built facilities designed with the latest standards can be more valuable over time.

Let’s Start the Conversation.

LIFTEX specializes in state-of-the art roof lifting solutions like no one else. We invented the process over 50 years ago and have refined it ever since, delivering results for hundreds of satisfied clients around the United States. Our roof-lifting solutions maximize your existing space and enhance the value of your property. Contact us today to learn more about how roof-lifting can transform your commercial real estate and support your growth!


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