Does your apartment building meet today’s standards for earthquake safety and offer the types of interior spaces tenants want? If built before the mid-1970s, it could benefit from an upgrade of both.

Many building owners in these circumstances are making the most of the situation by renewing interior spaces as a part of their seismic retrofit projects.

The team at Optimum Seismic has performed thousands of retrofit, renovation, and adaptive reuse projects since 1984.  Among our projects are: conversion of a historic hotel in downtown San Luis Obispo into a mixed-use project of 48 apartments and retail; transforming the historic Mayfair Hotel in downtown Pomona into apartments and ground-floor retail; and the conversion of several Victorian homes into student housing for the University of Southern California.

In the vast majority of these projects, the need for a seismic retrofit presents the opportunity to reinvent the living space inside the building shell: opening interior spaces, making the most use of natural lighting, and enlarging bathroom, kitchen and closet spaces.  Sustainable and recycled materials, renewable energy, and energy and water efficient appliances can be used in these projects to appeal to today’s growing population of environmentally conscious millennial tenants.

Reduce Costs and Disruption

If your building has any structural design flaws that may cause it to fail under the intense shaking of a major earthquake, it’s wise to consider a seismic retrofit to protect your investment and avoid liability.

Seismic retrofits of apartment buildings can be done with minimal disruption to tenants, and this period presents the opportunity to incorporate other upgrades in order to minimize impacts from construction.

Doing multiple projects at once can also save money by eliminating redundancy and reducing the amount of time needed to manage the construction work being done.

Shared equipment and supplies, staffing and storage requirements can also be minimized for greater efficiency when projects are done simultaneously.

Reinvent the Living Space

Apartments built in the 1950s, ‘60s, and 70s tend to have an overall boxed-in functionality. Kitchens are typically cramped and set apart from the main living area. Hallways are narrow, bathrooms compacted, and natural light is limited.

Consider opening these areas to create more expansive spaces by removing partitions and replacing “dead space” with functionality.

This may include creating multipurpose areas to serve blended or multi-generational households, while optimizing private spaces as well.

Bring the Outside Indoors

Consider the exterior of the building shell and how light and landscaping can be incorporated into the interior design.

Attractive terraces, balconies and large windows can bring natural light indoors and expand the interior livings space to the outdoors.

Incorporate Sustainability

Some of our most sustainable buildings are older structures that are adapted and retrofitted to extend their usefulness long into the future.

This reduces the environmental impact of demolishing a building, disposing of the debris, and shipping in new products to construct a new structure.  It also helps to retain much of the historical character of a community, which is another very important aspect of sustainability.

An adaptive reuse project can harness these benefits and do even more by incorporating sustainable materials into the renovation. Consider using iron, wood, recycled aluminum and plastic into the design of your new interior.

These elements can create interesting accents that define living areas and reflect the simplicity and linear look of today’s design standards.

Energy and Water Efficiency

Your building may also need electrical, plumbing and HVAC upgrades.

If that’s the case, it’s best to get these improvements done at the same time.  You don’t want to make significant upgrades to your building and have to rip them up a few years later when aging utilities fail.  Consider making the most of this situation by incorporating the latest in efficiency into your design or add renewable energy to attract the growing number of tenants for whom this matters.

Think also about incorporating smart technology into your renovation. The ability to activate lights, air-conditioning and other features remotely is a big plus in today’s market.