Agora Architecture


Remodeling A Building in the Central Business District

            So, you want to renovate a building in the Central Business District?  Firstly, congratulations on your new adventure. We want to help you experience building renovation with proper planning.

            Are you contemplating renovating a building you currently occupy, or one you intend to purchase or lease? The processes are, for the most part, the same. If you intend to occupy the building during the renovation, the situation can become more complicated. Therefore, for simplicity sake, let’s assume you are going to purchase an existing building that is unoccupied.

1.      Contact your Architect before purchasing the building

Our first recommendation is to contact an architect before buying a building. Your architect may find issues with a particular building that, ultimately, will cost more to renovate than another building possibility. The architect can also look for issues that a new owner or building inspector may miss. Your architect can look for pre-existing conditions as well as functionality issues that all existing buildings are at risk for. Each building you visit will have advantages and disadvantages, so the options must be evaluated.

2.      Visit with the applicable governing bodies about your potential building

Once you have a tentative choice, you need to visit with the governing bodies for contracting, construction, and renovations. We would suggest you take your architect with you to the meeting to help sort out limiting factors the chosen building may have. At that meeting you can review building codes, zoning restrictions, and restrictive covenants the property will need to adhere to. This meeting can be very informative. Also, if available, talking to the previous tenant is informative, if they are not the seller.

3.      Purchase the building and have your Architect complete a “Code Footprint”

You have now settled on the existing building you want to invest your dreams in, so, let’s proceed. You will be required by most governing bodies to have an architect provide information detailing your intentions for renovation. This information varies greatly depending on the complexity of the renovation and whether the building is being used in the same way that it was before you purchased it. The way the building is used triggers certain requirements with building codes. Quite often ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements also have to be addressed.

            Eventually, any changes to the building will have to be addressed in drawings which will be reviewed by the city before a building permit can be issued to the contractor doing the renovation. The drawings, or contract documents, can at times be as simple as a code footprint. They can also be as complex as a complete set of construction document that is put out for pricing by general contractors. A code footprint is a code analysis drawing showing and stating code compliance or non- compliance of a structure or building. It primarily addresses life safety issues, but covers other code issues as well. Most governing bodies will require a minimum of a code footprint before they will issue a certificate to occupy the building. The drawing gives them the information they need to analyze the code worthiness of a building.

              Once the city has reviewed the drawings, the governing body has issued a certificate to occupy, and all decencies have been rectified by the general contractor, you, the new owner, are ready to move in and grow your business. May your new location be prosperous and fulfilling.

Written by: Merrill K. Gordon and the Agora Architecture Team

**Stop by and see our Client, Main Street Cajun in Winfield - located at 609 Main Street to eat the best cajun food for miles! They worked really hard to transform a dilapidated storefront into a thing of beauty, and we think they did an excellent job. 


Main Street Cajun - 609 Main Street, Winfield, KS  |  Before and After

Main Street Cajun - 609 Main Street, Winfield, KS  |  Before and After