There’s a lot to be said for the classic Main Streets of small and mid-sized towns. With stately old storefronts and beautiful buildings that seem to be going to waste, your business can set up shop in one of these undervalued assets for a low price. While these buildings, as they say, “have good bones,” you can still encounter some hazards as you repurpose an old space into a new one. Before you proceed, you may want to consider some of the dangers of renovating older office buildings or other commercial properties.
Asbestos Insulation Could Be Lurking
Humanity really thought it had a good thing going with the discovery of asbestos. Plentiful throughout North American mines, amazingly fire-resistant, and boasting unmatched durability, we called this uncanny insulation material the “miracle mineral.” The miracle gave way to horror when doctors confirmed the carcinogenic properties of asbestos. While specialists have performed asbestos remediation on many homes and structures over the years, the war on the once-miracle mineral is not over. Many buildings still bear vestigial asbestos insulation. Tearing them up could release asbestos’s microscopic and highly dangerous fibers.
You Could Release Lead Paint Dust
Asbestos wasn’t the only grievous mistake we made in building construction. Lead has found use as a fixative and anti-corrosive in paint for centuries. Even by the beginning of the 20th century, the world had caught on to the high neurotoxicity of lead compounds and began banning lead as an additive in paints. It was not until the 1970s, however, that the United States government began to take action against lead paint, lead pipes, and leaded gasoline. These older buildings could still have lead paint beneath fresher coats. Tearing walls down or otherwise modifying them could release toxic lead into the air.
Unexpected Electrical Surprises
When you’re moving into a building from the mid-20th century, you have to remind yourself that people lived in different times. Building regulations were not quite as stringent as they are today, and many former occupants took certain liberties with modifications and repairs involving their electricity—quick fixes the likes of which would make modern electricians howl with disbelief. You may come across amateur electrical work that necessitates professional intervention to get up to standard. Don’t forget to budget for that.
Hidden Water Damage
Water: the universal solvent. When we say “universal,” we mean it. Enough water and enough time can do damage to any edifice. One of the dangers of renovating older office buildings is that prior owners may have tried to cover up this damage only for you to discover it later. In the midst of renovations, you could discover huge amounts of mold and mildew that people tried to hide, but there’s no hiding free-floating mold spores from people’s lungs. There’s a lot to love about old buildings and their good bones, but proceed with caution.