Why Retrofits Work


Something interesting happened in May. Billing for reconstruction projects exceeded new construction for the first time, according to the American Institute of Architect’s (AIA) May Architectural Billings Index. AIA has been tracking all things renovation, retrofit, restoration and reconstruction for 20 years. Typically, reconstruction numbers fall around 30%, not above 50%.


AIA believes this result is not just a blip on the radar and extends beyond businesses updating spaces because of the pandemic.


Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, says, “As far as our respondents are concerned, this rebalancing of new construction versus reconstruction is a much bigger trend.”


What drives a renovation could be that a building owner wants to update a space with a better design or more efficient mechanicals. A new tenant could have different requirements. Often, the building sets the tone for the retrofit and no longer functions as it should.


The cost of materials has everyone watching their budgets, wondering what can be accomplished with less. From a cost comparison standpoint, renovating a space might be chosen instead of new construction. Contractors who are turning to alternative materials because of supply chain delays should know that there are no delays with Flex-Ability Concepts. We offer same-day shipping, and prices have been raised minimally compared to others.


Renovations to Consider


Adam Hibbeler, equipment administrator at SAK Construction, O’Fallon, Mo., recently renovated his own kitchen in an 86-year-old house. He wanted to bring the Spanish-style curves seen throughout the house into the kitchen. He did this with a curved range hood made with Flex-C Arch by Flex-Ability Concepts.


While ideal for arches in doorways or windows, Flex-C Arch has many other possibilities. The installation is easy. Check it out here!


Flex-C Arch is available in 8-foot lengths with a 9-inch minimum radius. Custom widths are available. This range hood order was distributed by Negwer Materials Inc. in St. Louis. First State Bank in Russellville, Ark., renovated the Main Street Downtown branch to bring some life back into the space. HTW Architects + Engineers, Russellville, added a curved ceiling cloud feature to the renovation design as a bold focal point. Flex-Ability Concepts' Flex-C Arch was selected for its installation ease to create the curved and lighted cloud.


“The renovation was needed to make a more comfortable and more useful space and also to modernize the interior look of the building. The curve incorporates a bold modern look, which contrasts with the original exposed gray cast-in-place concrete floor/ceiling above,” says Ira Wimer, AIA, vice president of HTW Architects + Engineers.


Stellar Interiors Drywall and Acoustical in Conway, Ark., installed 16 pieces of 3 5/8-inch Flex-C Arch and 30 pieces of 2 1/2-inch Flex-C Arch to create the curved ceiling cloud. The 3 5/8-inch Flex-C Arch was used around the perimeter of the main cloud, and the 2 1/2-inch Flex-C Arch was used around the perimeter of the inset, a recessed lighted cove. L&W Supply, Little Rock, Ark., distributed the products.


HTW Architects + Engineers specified the use of a curved bottom track on a suspended wall to create the cloud. Malcolm Seiter, president of Stellar Interiors Drywall and Acoustical, says he selected Flex-C Arch because it was the easiest way to form the radius while decreasing labor costs.


Seiter says, “We use Flex-C Arch whenever we have a curved radius or archway opening in a metal stud wall. We like it because we just have to draw the curve on the floor, form the track to it and bend the tabs, and it will hold the curve for us. It saves a lot on labor compared to the old way we had to do it before we had this product. For that method, we had to draw the curve on a piece of sheetrock, take some regular metal track and cut the flanges every 6 inches or so depending on the tightness of the curve. We would then form it and screw it to the sheetrock. Using Flex-C Arch is a lot safer because you don't have to worry about cutting yourself on all the places that you cut the flanges on the regular track.”


Giving Me a Reason


The bank was updated to better serve its community, and the Hibbelers renovated their kitchen to meet their own needs. There simply are so many reasons to select reconstruction over new construction, and the sustainable benefits of reusing a space top the list.


The retrofit statistics from AIA and others will be interesting to watch during the next few months. So will your retrofit projects that hopefully use Flex-Ability Concepts’ products. Send your project details to mjuengel@flexabilityconcepts.com. We love hearing about them and promoting them for you in these blogs or our press releases!


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